Stay Interviews: A Key to Employee Retention

As we have all begun navigating the “new normal,” organizations face a new crisis known as the great resignation. Typically, in a hot labor market, workers have the confidence to quit their jobs, knowing that they will be able to find new and better ones. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) JOLTS report, BLS has reported there were approximately 9.2 million job openings at the end of May 2021, resulting in a record-high job openings rate of 6.0 percent. Additionally, BLS reports that quit rates are rising in most industries as people leave their jobs to seek new opportunities and a better work-life balance. If you are worried that your best talent might join this great resignation, it’s time to deploy an underused staff retention technique: the stay interview.

The stay interview is a formal meeting between the employee and the employer in which you ask your employees why they choose to remain working for the organization. The interviews will help you identify retention risks and highlight what you are getting right as an employer. These aren’t the same as exit interviews. Exit interviews are used when the employee has resigned, and we want to find out why they’re leaving.

To conduct a stay interview, schedule time one-on-one time with the employee and ask them some questions that focus on topics that lead to retention issues. It can tell you things about employee engagement, compensation and benefits, team culture, professional development, career growth paths, areas for improvement in the organization, and most importantly, why they stay. You can ask the core questions to everyone, but don’t be afraid to navigate other areas with employees you deem appropriate.

Here are a few open-ended questions to consider asking:

  • What makes you happy at work each day?
  • What changes could the company make to improve your work experience?
  • What’s one thing you would like to change about your team?
  • What’s one thing you would like to change about your job?
  • What’s your long-term goal with the company?
  • Do you feel passionate about the company’s mission? If so, do you understand how your job is essential for that mission?
  • Finally, but most importantly, ask, “If you have thought of leaving your job, what has been the main reason?”

Once you’ve had your interviews and collected your information, compile the responses and analyze the answers. You’re going to get information about why one person might leave or stay. You’re also going to identify patterns and aspects of your culture in the organization that influence all your employees. You should be able to drive meaningful results from your stay interview data. Build a response plan and take action based on the findings. Contact Employers Council for help.