If you’re just learning about “stay” interviews, you may be imagining yourself in your office, facing a key member of your team who has just resigned, trying to convince that employee to “stay” with your organization.
However, you don’t need to wait until an employee is leaving to hold a stay interview, when there may be little you can do to change his or her mind.
You can use stay interviews to check in with high-performing employees long before they might decide to leave your company – a retention strategy that’s gaining popularity among top employers. The purpose of these interviews is to find out what is motivating them to stay with you (and what might entice them to work for someone else).
Like having sound recruiting and performance review processes, implementing a stay interview strategy can help you understand what it may take to address turnover among your best employees.
Stay interviews can be casual or informal, as long as you feel you’re gathering opinions that will help you create a more attractive work environment.
And with the right stay interview questions, you can even bypass most pay raise appeals, bringing out your employees’ less obvious and perhaps easier-to-meet expectations.
Example stay interview questions
Try these stay interview questions to find out what it takes to keep your best employees around.
- What kind of feedback would you like about your performance that you aren’t currently receiving?
- What opportunities for self-improvement would you like to have that go beyond your current role?
- What kinds of flexibility would be helpful to you in balancing your work and home life?
- What talents, interests or skills do you have that we haven’t made the most of?
- What have you felt good about accomplishing in your job and in your time here?
- If you could change one thing about your job, team or company, what would it be?
What not to ask
Stay interviews may not feel worthwhile if you ask yes-or-no and closed-ended questions. Avoid asking your employees:
- Are you happy working here?
- Do you make enough money?
And don’t feel obligated to interview all of your employees about why they stay. Start with the members of your staff who have been with you longest and who consistently do well on performance reviews.
Aim to conduct your stay interviews with these high-performing employees at least once per year, scheduling them separately from performance reviews so the goals of each remain distinct.
The best stay interview questions help your most valuable employees understand:
- You recognize and appreciate their loyalty
- You care about more than just their performance
- You’re open to making changes that would bring them more satisfaction
And help you discover:
- Warning signs that indicate a key player needs more support or direction
- Ways to keep the employees in which you’ve invested the most time and resources
- Low-cost changes that could reaffirm your employees’ commitment and engagement
Replacing your leading employees can be time-consuming and costly. Download our free e-book, How to Develop a Top-notch Workforce That Will Accelerate Your Business, to learn more about building an effective HR strategy that helps retain employees for the long term.