How a Stay Interview Keeps People From Going

8 Feb

Man w clipboardIt’s typically HR policy to conduct probationary interviews after a new hire has been working for 30, 60, or 90 days, provide employees with a yearly review and conduct exit interviews as employees leave the company. One interview tool that HR managers don’t utilize enough in the workplace is the stay interview. This may be the most important type of interview employers can conduct in order to retain their best staff members.

What is a stay interview?
Unlike a job performance review, during which the employer gives the employee feedback, or exit interviews, where companies look to find answers as before a worker walks out the door, the stay interview is an opportunity for managers to ask their top talent: what can we do to make you stay? This one-on-one interview allows employees to discuss what is working for them and what changes need to be made to keep them happy and productive in the job.

Overcoming Trust Issues
It’s best if direct managers conduct stay interviews after proper training. These leaders have a working relationship with the employee, so they already know how that worker performs on a daily basis. As a result, they can more efficiently direct the questions asked during the interview. The biggest issue with stay interviews is trust between a worker and his or her manager. If there is a lack of trust, employees are likely to answer untruthfully, making the whole stay interview process pointless.

Managers need to be trained to phrase questions appropriately so employees don’t feel as if they are getting backed into a corner, or worry that their answer may affect their position. HR managers need to train leaders to ask questions that help drive understanding on employee feelings about the key areas of engagement. This includes company culture, communication, growth and recognition. Managers need to relay the message to employees during this specific interview that the purpose is to find out an employee’s feelings in general towards the workplace at that time.

Companies that wish to implement stay interviews into their HR practices should consider investing in trust-building initiatives and training. These tools show employees that the company is investing in maintaining a good working relationship with them.

The actual stay interview practice can create trust between the employee and employer if the organization clearly communicates the intent of the interviewee. Explaining the purpose of the interview and how the answers will better serve the development of the company can help alleviate employee anxieties about discussing what is working and where they see a need for improvement.

Developing Stay Interview Questions
Like we mentioned above, good interview questions should directly correlate with company culture, communication, growth and recognition. Focusing on employee understanding and feelings regarding these areas in the company are topics that will lead to good discussion. When framing a question, it’s best to stay away from blunt questions that could lead to generic answers and instead, phrase questions so the employee has to specifically identify a problem within the workplace and ways to fix it.

Some examples of bad stay interview questions might include:

  • Do you think communication is going well here? - this question give the employees the option to answer yes or no answer and doesn’t prompt them to go into details as to why something may or may not be working.
  • What could we do to make you stay? - Employees might respond with answers such as better pay, or more PTO time, which may not be financially possible on the business end. Answers to this question could also derail the stay interview, turning it into more of an employee performance review, which doesn’t give any insight about the company culture and day-today practices.

Some examples of good stay interview questions might include: 

  • If you quit today, what would you miss the most about the job? What would you least miss? This type of question asks the interviewee to identify at least one pro and con about the current work place, which may lead to further discussion about the need for positive changes.
  • How can we help you achieve your goals? An employer that invests in its employees’ career development helps keep staff happy and motivated, which breeds loyalty.
  • Are there issues in the workplace that may cause you to leave? This open-ended question sheds light on problems that may need to be addressed within a department or with a specific group of workers. It may also explain why the interviewee has seemed unhappy or distracted at work. Follow-up questions can help managers come up with a solution if the problem still exists, which can ultimately increase their chances of keeping employees from leaving.

During and after the stay interview, it’s important for the manager to be honest and admit that they may not be able to provide everything the interviewee wants, but that their feedback is valuable. Emphasize that as the manager, you can listen to them, hear their concerns, validate their feelings, and assure them that you will do what you can to explore options to solve any issues within the workplace. It’s important that you follow through with issues and concerns discussed during the stay interview and keep the said employee up to date with any progress being made.

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