Stay Interviews

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

Most companies and HR professionals are familiar with the concept of an exit interview. These are used to gather feedback on why individuals are leaving and to use this information to fix issues with corporate culture, compensation, or other concerns that may result in the departure of additional staff.

In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a business person who hasn’t participated in an exit interview at some point in his or her career. But, it’s a better solution to get in front of the reasons for turnover in the first place by implementing stay interviews instead of, or in addition to, traditional exit interviews. More and more companies are realizing the usefulness of conducting stay interviews to influence employee retention and reduce turnover.

How Do They Work?

The stay interview is a valuable tool for companies struggling with retention or engagement issues and even for those that are not. It’s an opportunity to speak candidly with staff members to find out what they love about their job and the company, and why they stay there. It also presents an opportunity to learn about team and individual best practices as well as challenges and frustrations.

The data gleaned from the interviews can be used to develop programs and practices that influence employee engagement, retention, job satisfaction, and company culture. In many cases, just doing the interviews boosted the employees’ impressions of the company, as they were happy to be given the attention and opportunity to share feedback and be heard.

How Often Should They Be Conducted?

Stay interviews should be conducted once or twice a year and should include everyone from entry level to senior management. It may be beneficial for a company to bring in an objective, neutral third party to begin the process of the stay interview, since people are often more willing to be open and honest about their concerns with someone outside the organization, especially in a stay interview. In exit interviews, the person has nothing to lose by airing their issues, however, in a stay interview, an employee may be hesitant to “rock the boat”, especially since they aren’t leaving the ship.

Stay interviews should dig deeper than the usual questions asked in exit interviews, which tend to focus on severance, the office environment, and policies. Stay interviews focus on more significant engagement questions, which try to discover what motivates employees.

What Questions Should be Asked?

You want to find out what excites people about their roles and the company. Is this consistent with how they felt when they first started, and if not, what has changed? Was what was portrayed in the interview process an accurate picture of real life with the company? Are there any areas of their current job they dislike so much that they might be tempted to leave? What do they think they might find elsewhere that would be a better fit or more engaging for them?

Additional Support

The stay interview should be a tool to help with employee retention and as mentioned above, it might be useful if a neutral third party was used to conduct the interviews. Donnelly-Boland, and our HR professionals would be good choices to bring in as a neutral third party. If you wish to discuss this further, or have any other HR topics you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact me or any of our Human Resource professionals at Donnelly-Boland.

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