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Many of my clients conduct exit interviews with those employees leaving in good standing. An exit interview can provide a business with important information on both positive and negative policies and/or practices.

The downside of an exit interview is that it is happening at a time in which the business is losing an employee.

Looking for ways to keep employees engaged and satisfied is much better than the stress and costs associated with replacing them. It costs over $30,000 to replace an employee earning $60,000. Costs include not only recruiting, but the costs associated with the inefficiencies in having others perform the work of the departed employee and, once hired, the costs involved in the usual learning curve of most new workers.

Although an exit interview is something I would recommend a company to continue to utilize, the stay interview is beginning to gain traction in the business world.

Stay Interview – What It Is

A stay interview is conducted by human resources or a manager, one-on-one, the goal being to find out from the employee what they value in their jobs and to get an idea of what would make them stay. It should also attempt to ascertain what might make the employee leave and to get some ideas on what the company could do to improve.

It is important for a business to be proactive in conducting stay interviews as they want to have one before an employee has already expressed a desire to leave, as it is much more difficult to retain an employee at that point.

Benefits of Stay Interviews

Stay interviews can help a company:

  • Develop a culture of trust and transparency.
  • Understand better what motivates top performers.
  • Possibly uncover systematic problems that put the company at risk.
  • Determine what needs to be improved upon to increase employee satisfaction.
  • To confirm the policies and practices that employees like.

Conducting a Stay Interview

The rollout of a successful stay interview program requires careful planning and should be part of a focused employee engagement strategy.

Some things a company should consider:

  • Pick a cross-section of employees and start with those the business believes are a flight risk.
  • The company should be mindful of the race, gender, age, etc. of those they choose or don’t choose to interview, as they don’t want to make it look as though they are engaging in discriminatory conduct
  • Although stay interviews are focused on keeping top talent, these interviews should be conducted with employees at all levels of performance.
  • Do not discuss performance-related things with the employee. These interviews are not intended to be centered on performance management.
  • Be transparent, letting the employee know it is a discussion to understand some things they like and perhaps dislike about the company.
  • Putting the employee at ease and convincing them that their feedback will not be looked at critically is essential in a successful stay interview campaign.
  • The stay interview is a time to let the employee know they are valued and that the company is always looking for ways to improve.

Additional Things of Note

  • Consider asking some stay interview questions to new hires, possibly during a 90-day review.
  • Certain employees not interviewed may feel that they are being singled out. A business should make it clear in a company-wide communication that they will be randomly choosing people over the next few weeks for a “company feedback” session. They should be sure to also state that, should any employee not be chosen but wants an opportunity to speak, they can reach out to human resources or any other person the company designates.
  • Ask the same questions to every person and take notes.
  • It is not recommended that a company send the stay interview questions to employees and ask them to write down their answers and then submit. A one-on-one session is the best way to connect with the employee and get some useful and candid feedback.

Marzano Human Resources Consulting works with businesses on the roll-out of stay-interview initiatives.  We provide training and suggested stay interview questions.

Company’s should consider reaching out to us for a no-cost initial consultation.


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