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In today’s dynamic work environment, where the cost of losing a valuable employee can significantly impact an organization’s performance and morale, understanding what keeps employees engaged and committed is crucial. One of the most effective tools for achieving this understanding is the stay interview.

Unlike exit interviews, stay interviews are conducted with current employees, focusing on what motivates them to continue working for the organization and what might cause them to leave. To ensure these interviews yield the valuable insights needed to improve employee engagement, crafting the right questions is key. Here’s how to design stay interview questions that will provide the critical information you need.

  1. Start with Open-Ended Questions
    Open-ended questions encourage employees to share comprehensive and insightful responses, providing a depth of information that close-ended questions simply cannot. Begin with queries that allow employees to express their feelings and thoughts candidly, such as “What do you enjoy most about working here?” or “Can you share an experience here that made you feel valued?”
  2. Focus on the Positive
    While it’s critical to understand potential reasons for leaving, stay interview questions should primarily center on the positive aspects that contribute to employee satisfaction and loyalty. Ask questions like “What makes you look forward to coming to work each day?” This not only sets a positive tone for the interview but also helps identify the strengths and unique aspects of your workplace culture that can be leveraged to enhance overall engagement.
  3. Inquire About Growth and Development Opportunities
    Employees often cite professional growth and development opportunities as key factors in their decision to stay with an organization. Questions such as “Do you feel you’re able to reach your full potential here?” or “What skills would you like to develop or improve?” can uncover whether employees see a future for themselves within the company and what the organization can do to support their career ambitions.
  4. Dig Into the Manager-Employee Relationship
    The relationship between an employee and their direct manager is a critical factor in employee engagement. To gain insights into this dynamic, consider questions like “How would you describe your relationship with your manager?” or “In what ways does your manager support your success?” These questions can reveal how managerial styles and practices affect employee satisfaction and retention.
  5. Explore Work-Life Balance
    Work-life balance is a key component of job satisfaction and employee retention. Questions aimed at understanding how employees manage their personal and professional lives can be eye-opening. Try asking “How well do you feel your work-life balance is supported here?” or “What could we do to improve your ability to manage work and personal commitments?”
  6. Ask for Suggestions
    Directly engaging employees in the process of improving the workplace not only yields practical ideas but also makes them feel valued and heard. A question such as “What changes would make you more satisfied with your job?” invites employees to be part of the solution, fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual respect.
  7. Ensure Questions are Tailored and Relevant
    While a core set of questions can be applied universally, tailoring questions to address specific roles, departments, or levels of experience can provide deeper insights. Consider the unique aspects of each employee’s situation and craft questions that reflect those nuances.

Crafting Your Stay Interview Strategy
Interviewing every employee may not be realistic, so identifying a cross-section of people who you feel will be a good barometer of overall employee sentiment is critical.

The key to effective stay interviews lies not only in asking the right questions, but also in how you use the insights gained. Ensure that there’s a clear process for analyzing responses, identifying common themes, and implementing actionable changes based on the feedback.

Additionally, communicating back to employees what you’ve learned and how you plan to address their needs and concerns is essential for closing the feedback loop and building trust.

By thoughtfully crafting your stay interview questions and diligently acting on the insights they provide, you can significantly improve employee engagement, reduce turnover, and build a stronger, more resilient organization.

Marzano Human Resources Consulting works with businesses on creating an employee engagement strategy, which includes the implementation of the stay interview.

Consider reaching out to us for a no-cost initial consultation.

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