Asking 'What Makes You Stay?'How Stay Interviews Can Improve Employee Retention And Productivity

Author:Ms C. Crystal Enekwa
Profession:Fisher Phillips LLP
 
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Hiring interviews and exit interviews are a very common, if not completely unavoidable, part of any employer's business operations. What is less known and less talked about, however, are stay interviews—even though they could be the most important interviews your organization could ever have. This begs the question: what is a stay interview?

A stay interview is simply asking your employees: “What makes you stay?” Their answers almost always prove a useful tool in employee management.

What It Means To Ask Why Employees Stay

In essence, a stay interview is a conversation between a manager and a direct report employee which explores those things that foster the employee's decision to stay with an employer. A stay interview can also cover more discrete issues like why an employee stays within a particular department, on a project, or with a particular manager or supervisor.

Typically formal, these interviews are intended to promote open and honest dialogue with the employee in order to identify what the employer is currently doing right and uncover issues that could cause an employee to decide to leave. As a whole, stay interviews work to improve an employer's organizational structure, develop more effective policies and procedures, and promote increased employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

Unlike a hiring interview where the goal is to figure out whether a candidate is a good fit for your company, or an exit interview where the goal is to learn the root cause for an employee's decision to leave, a stay interview is intended to explore what it takes to keep an employee. The stay interview focuses on current employees that, as far as the employer knows, have not yet developed a reason to leave.

Many employers rely solely on exit interviews to fix employee turnover issues, but the information gained is often learned far too late to make a difference when it comes to the particular employee that has chosen to leave. In truth, it is very seldom that an employee who has made the decision to leave will give their employer a chance to change their mind. The stay interview occurs before an employee can get to this point and, if done properly, reduces the probability that the employee will get to the point of wanting to leave.

Why Ask “Why”?

One of the most compelling reasons for incorporating stay interviews is the positive impact that they can have on employee retention. There are high sunk costs associated with recruiting and hiring...

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