While many employers are facing the prospect of exit interviews as they offboard employees and engage outplacement services, there is one thing organisations can do long before an employee is leaving to increase their chances of staying. Say hello to the ‘stay interview’.
What is a stay interview?
Whether you prefer to call it the Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle, there is no doubt that employees are on the move and the job market only continues to get tighter. It’s never been more important for organisations to do everything they can to retain their employees.
Stay interviews, much like job interviews or exit interviews, are a chance to sit down with employees and hear their perspective.
A stay interview, however, is conducted in the midst of someone’s time with an organisation. It’s a chance to check in, to take the temperature of their career within the organisation and understand what’s motivating them to stay or if they’re thinking about leaving soon.
Stay interviews preempt all the problems that might arise, helping employers to look proactively at what motivates staff to stay. It’s a great tool to get some accurate insights from employees that may help you to avoid undergoing the offboarding process and stem the tide in this uncertain and tight market.
5 questions you can ask in a stay interview
To get the best information from a stay interview, it’s important to ask questions that give you a better understanding of an employee’s experiences, feelings and plans for the future. The following questions can help you to get this insight:
- What do you enjoy about coming to work each day?
- How do you feel about the impact of your work – are you proud of the work you do?
- Is there anything you want to do more of at work? Is there anything you would like to do less of?
- When you plan your future (12 months, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years), what do you see?
- If you had the ability to change anything about the way this organisation/your team operates, what would it be?
Ultimately, every organisation will want to ask a different set of questions to understand their employees better. What really matters is what you do with the information once you have it.
Stay interviews help employees feel valued
Too many organisations have the reputation of treating employees like human resources, rather than humans.
We can see the same effect in action with exit interviews. Sure, by the time an employee reaches an exit interview, they’re already lost to the organisation. But treat them well throughout that interview and the whole onboarding process and you may see them return as a boomerang employee in the future.
Any interview is an opportunity to treat employees well, show them you care and put their feedback into action, no matter how long they’ve been on the team.
Managers aren’t always the right people to conduct the stay interview
When everybody is very busy in the trenches, it’s not always possible to find the time, the skills or the leadership to focus on retention. Even if they find the time to arrange stay interviews, the manager isn’t always the right person to conduct them. In fact, in most cases it’s better if they don’t.
Stay interviews are designed to open up a conversation and vulnerability, honesty and openness are all important in this conversation. The goal of stay interviews is to gather accurate feedback and employees need to feel comfortable to give this feedback.
This is why an independent, third-party interviewer can be of enormous benefit in any stay interview.
With an external interviewer, employees can feel more comfortable to share their honest feedback, leading to better insights for your organisation so you can improve and, ultimately, retain your best and brightest. Many employees may also feel that a stay interview has more gravitas if your organisation has paid someone external to conduct it – it’s easier to distinguish from a typical meeting that a manager may put in their diary on a regular basis, giving it more weight and importance.
At the end of the day, the job market is tight, and it’s only becoming tighter. As employees seek out work that fulfils them and better suits their lifestyles, many organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to replace them in a timely manner. In many cases, organisations are finding it difficult to find the right person to fill roles and, if they do find this person, it can be difficult to find the time to train them and, of course, expensive, costing anywhere between 30-150% of an employee’s salary to replace them.
Putting the focus on stay interviews can help organisations to retain employees, avoiding the need for offboarding or to re-enter the hiring process sooner than necessary. In this climate, a stay interview is worth its weight in gold.