We’re all familiar with how organizations interview people prior to joining the company and again when they’re leaving the company. However, there is another kind of interview that organizations don’t tend to carry out all too often—stay interviews.

This type of interview is one that should be conducted periodically with key employees who you suspect may be considering moving on to pastures new. Also known as a retention interview, the stay interview is designed to help employers understand the best way to retain their best talent. Through stay interviews, employers can focus on the positives and find out what employers are enjoying about their roles and minimize employee complaints and problems before they head out the door.

The Power of Stay Interviews

With more talent than ever before entering the marketplace and competing for valuable job offers, there has been a shift in focus for organizations. Many that were once very employee-driven are now candidate-driven. And while this is great for talent acquisition, it does little to help employees feel valued.

The stay interview is a powerful retention method that employers can use to gauge what employees like and dislike about their current position. This, experts reckon, reduces employee turnover rates when they’re carried out at least once a year outside of regular employee performance review periods.

Benefits of Carrying Out Stay Interviews

If you’re not already carrying out stay interviews within your organization, these benefits will hopefully make you realize just how much value they hold:

Great for “Millennial” Workers

Soon, it is estimated that the millennial talent pool will make up over 50% of the workforce. However, their values are very different to the values of their predecessors. While the focus of the workforce was once money, power, and prestige for the “Gen X” and “Baby Boomers” that isn’t the case for Millennials.

Instead, Millennials’ values are far more aligned with meaningful work, culture, and giving back to their communities, and they recognize that organizations which carry out stay interviews are far more likely to align with these. Given that stellar Millennial candidates often receive multiple job offers, they can afford to be picky and settle only for the organization that matches up with their criteria.

They Show That You Care

Your employees want more than just a salary and a few benefits. They want to know that you value and appreciate them, and stay interviews demonstrate beyond doubt that you care about their wellbeing and satisfaction. Stay interviews also help you highlight turnover triggers and enable employers to respond to issues before they become problems that could be damaging to your organization, such as:

  • Developmental problems
  • A lack of opportunities to specialize or climb the ladder
  • Pay problems, such as a feeling of being underpaid
  • Problems with company culture, such as toxicity or inconsistencies
  • How do you like to be recognized?

This is why they’re so valuable. They allow you to highlight problems that would have otherwise gone unnoticed until it would have been too late, causing you to lose valuable talent to other organizations, often competitors.

They Build Trust

Stay interviews require managers and supervisors to ask questions, listen to what their employees have to say, consider what was said, and then follow up on any requests or problem areas. When done properly and not rushed, this process helps to build a robust connection that causes employees to not only stay with the organization for longer but actually approach you in the future with their concerns before they go looking for a new position.

In addition, stay interviews force supervisors to include retention within their remit—they are in the best position to influence their team members, and stay interviews reinforce this mentality.

They Inspire Action

Stay interviews are great because they help to inspire action from employers which translates to continuous improvement from employees.

Instead of getting comfortable with their retention figures and waiting for exit interviews to identify issues, stay interviews instead inspire employers to constantly strive to improve job satisfaction. They also prompt employers to act early on to rectify problems so as to avoid creating discontent among the workforce and pushing people out of the door through inaction.

Conducting Stay Interviews

Stay interviews can take any form of your choosing. Formal or informal. Candid or highly planned and structured. However, the focus should be on the person being interviewed, just as it is during a regular recruitment interview.

The goal of the interview is to carefully listen to your employees and learn about what it is that makes them want to stay. It is also designed to help highlight problems that may make employees want to leave. If you conduct enough stay interviews, you might find that many or most of your employees are citing the same reasons for wanting to stay—or alternatively, wanting to go.

As for what to say and ask, most supervisors and managers take a structured approach to conducting stay interviews. To kick off the interview, you might say something along the lines of:

  • “I would like to discuss with you the reasons why you have stayed with the organization and any problems that you may have, so that I can support you better as a manager and make this a great place to work for you”

As for questions, these should be open-ended, and you should have plenty on hand to ask. When you ask these questions, it’s very important to listen and reflect on what’s being said.

Examples of stay interview questions may include:

  • Which element of your work do you enjoy the most?
  • What do you most look forward to when coming to work?
  • What don’t you look forward to?
  • If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
  • Which of your skills or talents aren’t being used in your current role?
  • What motivates you or makes you less motivated?
  • What may tempt you to leave?

At the end of the interview, summarize what’s been said and tell the employee that you’re going to go away and reflect on everything. During this time, you should pay particular attention to any problems highlighted or reasons that the employee indicated would tempt them to leave, and work on creating a stay plan.

Remember that it’s a huge step to start asking your employees whether they’re happy and why they might consider leaving. Many employees will respond positively to the thought that the company or organization is considering their welfare and their future, and that their manager took the time to discuss this with them.