Stay Interviews

The popular saying is that people don’t quit jobs; they quit managers. According to the Harvard Business Review, once you have great managers, the common cause of people quitting is the work. Employees either feel unappreciated, that they were not able to use their strengths, or that they were not gaining skills or expertise to advance their career. With a shocking three million Americans quitting their jobs every month, employee retention should be at the top of every manager’s list of priorities. How can you know how employees are feeling before they leave your company for a competitor? The answer is the Stay Interview.

Stay Interviews are “an organized meeting between a manager and an existing employee to review the reasons the employee stays with the company and seeking out concerns that might influence the employee to leave.” ( Stay interviews are shown to increase employee satisfaction and retention. Great times to do a stay interview is during the annual employee evaluation and a few months after a new employee is hired.

Creating an open door policy has gone a long way to encourage employees to discuss their issues with their managers as soon as the issue arises. If an employee is offered a job by the competition with a 2% raise, and this is the only reason they are considering leaving the company, wouldn’t it be worth it to match that raise to keep a great employee? The alternative is facing up to 200% of the employee’s annual salary in finding and training a new replacement. Here is a nifty calculator to estimate how much losing an employee would cost your company.

Unhappy employees have led to a surge in LinkedIn recruiting. Recruiters reach out through LinkedIn messages, sometimes offering an interview immediately and sometimes building a relationship before offering the interview. Recruiters seek out the reasons the employees may not be happy where they are and jump on those issues, offering a resolution if they come over to their company. This means that right now, recruiters could be scouting your employees, luring them away, and leaving you with a hole to fill.

Obviously, you cannot ban your employees from talking to recruiters, and such a decision would likely cause more harm than do any good. The best way to combat these recruiters is by conducting stay interviews and using the information gathered to improve your company and the employee’s work experience.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a study amongst HR professionals and found the following questions were most recommended for stay interviews:

  1. When you are on your way to work, what is it you are most looking forward to?
  2. What have you learned working here?
  3. What would you like to learn working here?
  4. When have you considered leaving the company, and why?
  5. What made you decide to stay?
  6. What can I do to make your job better?
  7. Do you feel valued?

When conducting your stay interviews, be sure to listen more than you speak. This is their time to get their feelings off their chest, and you want to encourage them to open up as much as possible. Be sure take notes, especially if you notice employees keep using the same words, such as “unappreciated” or “overworked.” While some of the feedback may not be easy to hear, it is important to remain calm and encourage the discussion. After all feedback has been received, a plan can be put into place to improve the work environment for everyone.

One way to conduct a stay interview is to allow the employees to do so anonymously. A survey can be created, and employees can take them privately, without their identities being tracked. Some companies feel this allows candidates to be more open and honest, without fear of retaliation. Some employees feel this is too impersonal and may give off the vibe that management is not really invested.

Do stay interviews work? According to research done by Gallup, employees who feel their voices are being heard are 59% less likely to go looking for another job. Companies that conduct stay interviews see a drastic drop in the percentage of employees who use apps to look for a new job — only 13%, versus 46% of employees at companies who don’t conduct stay interviews. 

Stay interviews are a valuable tool for any company because they save money, lead to higher employee retention, and improve the work environment for all involved. These interviews should be a regular part of every company’s operating procedures.

Elise Holden, Client Services