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Use Stay Interviews to Retain Top Talent

Managing A Team

As our economy accelerates full steam ahead, companies across Hawaii continue to grapple with filling vacancies from the pandemic. While recruitment is top of mind, retention shouldn’t take a back seat. Exit interviews can provide valuable insight on why employees are leaving, but employers can go a step further to improve retention by having a conversation called a “stay interview” before people even think of handing in their notice. 

The cost of turnover is high; intensified by competition for talent across our state. Instead of waiting until after an employee resigns to ask about their experience in an exit interview, employers can use a stay interview to gauge what high performers value in the workplace and uncover and address problems proactively. 

What is a stay interview?

A stay interview is a conversation between a manager and an employee with the goal of discovering what motivates the employee to stay with the company, identifying what could be better about the employee’s work experience, and how the employee envisions the next stage of their career within the organization. Effective stay interviews can not only improve employee retention but also build trust between employees and their managers. 

Benefits of stay interviews

A stay interview can yield substantial benefits for an employer if done correctly. First and foremost, these interviews aim to retain talent by allowing a manager or supervisor to gain an understanding of an employee’s needs and implementing reasonable changes to accommodate those needs. By identifying your employees’ pain points before they quit, employers can save on costs associated with recruitment, training new employees, and the loss of productivity when a new hire is learning the ropes. 

In addition, stay interviews help employers:

  • Build employee loyalty 
  • Create an open culture and encourage engagement 
  • Allow employees to communicate their experiences, ideas, and needs
  • Assess workforce wellbeing
  • Develop relevant training programs and benefits packages
What should I ask during an interview? 

During an interview, a manager might ask an employee how they’re doing, what their goals are, and what the company can do to make sure they’re flourishing in their role.

Questions may include:

  • What motivates you to show up for work each day? 
  • What specifically do you like about your work? What do you dislike? 
  • Does any part of your work make you anxious or frustrated? How so? 
  • Tell me about your work-life balance. How could it be improved? 
  • How could we improve our training and recognition programs and processes?
  • What would entice you to consider leaving? 
When should I conduct a stay interview?

Stay interviews should be conducted annually. However, they should not occur immediately after an employee starts, nor should they coincide with a performance review. 

Tips for successful execution 

If you’re planning to conduct stay interviews, ensure that you give employees ample time to prepare their thoughts. At least a week before the meeting, brief them on the purpose of the interview and what you hope to accomplish. Then, ask them to spend some time thinking about the questions so that they feel prepared for the meeting and can provide thoughtful answers. 

During an interview, managers should remember not to make any promises or become defensive. Instead, listen actively without distraction or judgment. 

Stay interviews are a powerful and free tool to retain your rockstar employees, improve dialogue, and provide a valuable look into company culture. For more tips related to talent strategy check out our recent blog, 4 Lessons for retaining employees (beyond pay). 

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