Stay interviews: Ask before they’re gone

Dear A Advisor,

We have great staff retention, but sometimes our employees choose to continue their career paths elsewhere. We conduct exit interviews so we can understand their reasons for leaving; however, we’d like to be more proactive. What can we do to understand employee concerns before they resign?

Thanks for your help!

Sad to See Them Go

Hey there, SSTG,

Consider the positive impact of conducting stay interviews that will allow employees to voice concerns well before they resign. Some professionals avoid the stay interview all together because they are hesitant to give employees an opportunity to complain. Stay interviews, however, allow the employee to reflect on the positive aspects of their time with the company, and provide constructive feedback about how the company can be improved.

The stay interview between your company and the employee is the cornerstone of retention. The insight gained from the stay interview could avoid the need for an exit interview, which in turn lowers turnover.

Here’s how to optimize your stay interview:

  1. Structure your questions around best practices.

Concrete questions will get concrete answers. Specific questions will elicit constructive feedback on what has and has not worked for this employee. The interview should be a fact-finding exercise.

  1. Preserve confidentiality.

Many employees don’t speak up while they are still with a company because they feel that voicing their concerns may be detrimental to their working life. Making the stay interview a safe, confidential space will allow the employee to open up without repercussions.

  1. Make your employee feel valued.

Use the stay interview as an opportunity to preserve a positive relationship going forward. Give the employee the opportunity to reflect on what works.  Ask them what else the company can do to keep them for the long haul. Let them know that they are valuable assets to the company. When they feel valued, they will continue to be ambassadors for your company.

  1. Timeliness is critical.

Along with frequent employee check-ins, make sure to conduct stay interviews at least twice per year. This way, your organization is proactive and collects key insight prior to the resignation letter.

Most importantly, seize this opportunity to gather valuable information for your company and create a positive experience for your employee.


The A Advisor

What tips do you have for effective stay interviews?

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