HR Management & Compliance

Getting Back to Basics with Stay Interviews

As an HR professional, you have probably had your fair share of exit interviews. While they are designed to get valuable input from employees that are transitioning out of the company, the results can often be skewed. Employees are either afraid of future backlash and are overly positive, or have an ax to grind and take the opportunity to do so. The stay interview can be more accurate when used properly.

With a monthly voluntary quit rate at 2.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and a tightening labor market, many employers are finding that waiting to get input at the time of employee exit is too late. These employers are turning to another source of input designed to proactively provide an opportunity to address any issues before an employee seeks a job elsewhere: the stay interview.

Unlike exit interviews, which usually take place between HR staff members, rather than managers, stay interviews are generally conducted between employees and their direct supervisors or managers. They’re designed to help managers identify ways to ensure the work environment is meeting an employee’s needs. How many managers have been taken off guard by an employee’s resignation, only to think: “If only I’d known …”? Conducting stay interviews provides an opportunity to learn about issues within the organization that may be creating dissatisfaction and potential new opportunities that would serve to motivate employees, increasing their engagement and loyalty.

In an Entrepreneur article, “Forget ‘Exit Interviews.’ Here’s Why You Should Conduct Stay Interviews Instead,” Curtis Odom offers some tips for conducting these interviews:

  • Ask questions that are simple and informal.
  • Ask what motivates the employee to stay with the organization.
  • Ask what drives the employee to succeed.
  • Ask about elements of the culture that the employee does and does not find motivating
  • Ask, “If you were your own manager, how would you manage yourself?”
  • Ask what might be missing in the work environment and what you could do to make the employee’s experience more rewarding.

Organizations and managers may certainly not be able to meet all of an employee’s needs; that’s not what the stay interview is about. It’s simply an opportunity to gain insights before a decision to seek or accept another job—a proactive way to boost the odds that when seeking new opportunities, your best employees will choose you!

Lin Gresing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor for the L&D Daily Advisor.

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