Tips for conducting a successful stay interview

May 16, 2022

For organizations experiencing issues with turnover or retention, stay interviews are on the rise. A stay interview is conducted to help managers and employers understand why employees choose to stay at the company and what might cause them to leave. This typically involves standard and structured questions asked in a casual or conversational way — to ensure employees feel comfortable and free to speak their minds.

Why are stay interviews important?
Stay interviews can serve as an invaluable tool for businesses when they're completed successfully. Recognizing what makes a company attractive, and what aspects need to be improved moving forward, is a key factor in improving productivity, reducing errors and ultimately driving better business outcomes.

One of the main reasons organizations are increasingly implementing stay interviews is to keep turnover rates low. In fact, a report from SHRM introduces an important example of how stay interviews can be successful at reducing turnover. The report states that a Florida hospital was able to reduce overall turnover by 37% and decreased turnover among nurses by 70% through the use of stay interviews. These conversations might be a more effective approach to solving organizational issues than exit interviews, giving you the information needed to make constructive decisions moving forward before losing top talent.

If your business is planning to utilize stay interviews to keep your workforce around long-term, here are best practices to ensure a stay interview is successful:

Ensure this is a one-on-one meeting with a manager
To guarantee the conversation is comfortable and conversational, it's most effective for a stay interview to be conducted by a manager — not HR. While HR is an invaluable resource for your company, your employees are likely going to be more open with their manager who understands the ins and outs of their daily roles.

Maintain transparency
Transparency is a critical component of successful stay interviews, as well as a positive company culture. According to statistics from Kudos, 46% of employees state that the lack of transparent communication from leadership has driven them to seek a new job. This process is most beneficial to employers and managers when they are also honest and sincere.

Make the interview about the employee
The objective of stay interviews is to discover how your employees feel about different aspects of the company. Eventually, this information can be leveraged to improve your processes, systems and initiatives, but for the duration of the interview, the focus should be entirely on the employee and their personal thoughts and feelings.

Be careful of the tone of the interview
Stay interviews should maintain a friendly feeling throughout the process — especially if you're looking for honest feedback from high-performing employees. It's best to avoid the professional tone you might use for an exit interview and employ something more casual.

Stay aware of the timing
Timing is always important in business, and stay interviews are no exception. If you wait until there's a potential issue, then it's too late. The objective of stay interviews isn't to get employees to change their minds when they're ready to leave, but to keep their mindset from reaching that point.

While high turnover continues throughout workplaces, implementing timely and carefully planned stay interviews can help your company keep your best employees around longer.