The Benefits of Stay Interviews for Employee Retention

The labor market is in a challenging stage for companies that want to hire new employees. The U.S. has added jobs steadily since the beginning of the pandemic — including 678,000 in February — but employers are still having trouble finding the right workers for the job. Not to mention, 44% of workers say they’re looking for a new job this year.

What does that mean for HR teams? They’re renewing their focus on employee retention to keep valuable top talent at their organization. The Great Resignation might be sticking around, but your HR team can try new strategies to keep it at bay.

We’ve talked about strategies for retaining top talent previously on the ClearCompany blog, and today we’re looking at another: stay interviews. Find out what stay interviews are and how they can help you retain your employees.

More Employee Retention Resources

What is a Stay Interview?

You’ve heard of exit interviews, where companies ask departing employees why they are leaving their position. A stay interview is the opposite. Stay interviews are conversations between managers and employees to discover what keeps employees at the organization, what could be improved, what they like about their role, and how they see their future at the company.

Stay interviews shouldn’t be too formal — informal conversations are the best way to approach them, according to Ricklyn Woods, HR consultant and University of Phoenix career advisor. Employees should be able to feel comfortable providing feedback, including feedback about improvements that could be made. Managers must also be willing to accept feedback from their employees about their own performance.

Stay interviews give your organization the opportunity to address any concerns employees have long before they consider leaving the company. They offer companies clear insight into what’s working for employees and what they need to stay motivated. Stay interviews also give employees a chance to have their voices heard at work — which they say makes them feel empowered to do their best.

Retain Employees with Stay Interviews

Imagine that a handful of top employees share the same complaints about having few professional development opportunities. Their manager conducts stay interviews and hears the same sentiment echoed by several employees: the chance to grow their skills could entice them to take a new job. The manager can then make a strong case to leadership about how professional development programs would retain more employees. Once the program is implemented, the company will have employees with some brand-new skills and increased confidence in their value to the organization.

In this and many other ways, stay interviews benefit both employees and employers. They contribute to a company culture where employee feedback is valued and impactful. They allow managers and human resources teams to identify what contributes to — and detracts from — higher employee morale and engagement. In a talent market where hiring isn’t getting any easier, stay interviews can help you keep the employees you have.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of conducting stay interviews.

Builds Trust with Employees

Trust is the foundation of positive company culture and strong, productive teams, but only 48% of employees say they trust their organization. Stay interviews can help build trust with your employees. Honest, transparent, two-way communication shows employees that their feelings and needs matter to your company.

Find Out What Keeps Employees Motivated

Stay interviews help your company understand what makes an “enthusiastic stayer.” Enthusiastic stayers are employees who not only plan to stay with their companies but are also happy in their current positions. Ask stay interview questions to find out if employees see a future for themselves at your organization. Those that do are more likely to be enthusiastic stayers who can tell you more about what keeps them so engaged.

Boosts Employee Engagement

Employee engagement, good communication, and high retention are closely tied. Engaged employees are more productive and satisfied with their jobs and up to five times less likely to quit. Regular communication with your employees helps them stay connected to their work and to the company’s mission. A regular feedback loop can even decrease turnover by nearly 15 percent.

Stay interviews are the perfect conversation to add to that feedback loop. They’re a purposeful, but casual, discussion about what makes employees want to continue coming to work each day. These conversations are so important because they can dissuade employees from quitting. Considering the fact that 52% of employees who quit their jobs said that their manager could have done something to retain them, it’s clear that employees are open to having stay conversations if they’re given the chance.

This article was originally published on the ClearCompany blog by Melanie Baravik.

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Meredith Wholley

As a Digital Marketing and Events Manager for ClearCompany, Meredith coordinates best-practice content and brand-awareness events with HR practitioners.