HR Management & Compliance

Don’t Wait Until the Exit Interview

With employees remaining at an organization for approximately 4.6 years, you are going to be forking out a lot because of turnover costs. Waiting for an employee to leave to see whether he or she had concerns with the organization is too late. Try the stay interview instead.

By Erin Pappo, Client Services Director, Camden Consulting Group

Most companies and HR professionals are familiar with the concept of an exit interview, which is used to gather feedback on why individuals are leaving and hopefully 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 traditional exit interviews. More and more companies are realizing the usefulness of conducting stay interviews to influence employee retention and reduce turnover.

Learn What Your Company Is Doing Right

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.

When and How to Conduct Stay Interviews

Stay interviews should be conducted once or twice a year and should include everyone from entry level to senior management. It is ideal 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.

An outside firm will typically talk to a representative from the entire company or a specific target area of the key high-performers. Before starting the process, it is imperative that there is good communication from inside about what is happening, why you are doing it, and what will come next.  Questions should be direct, open, and designed to invite sincere feedback.

Ask the Right Questions in Order to Make the Right Changes

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.

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?   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?

10 Questions to Ask in the Stay Interview

  1. The last time you went home and said, “I had a great day, I love my job,” what had happened that day?
  2. The last time you went home and said, “That’s it, I can’t take it anymore,” what had happened that day?
  3. If you switched careers, what would you miss the most?
  4. What do you like most about your team?
  5. What demotivates you most about working on your team?
  6. What is really different at this company that makes you proud to be an employee?
  7. What demotivates you most about working for the company?
  8. What did you love in your last position or company that you’re not doing now?
  9. Is your manager effective?  (If so, what does he or she do that you value most?  If not, what could he or she be doing more of, less of, or differently?)
  10. If you could afford to retire tomorrow, what would you miss most about your job?

Tomorrow, we will present more about stay interviews.