Employment engagement requires two-way communication from things like feedback loops, evaluations, open-door policies, and effective meetings. Stay interviews can be a powerful addition to that mix, but it’s a process that very few companies use, and that’s unfortunate.
We interview people coming in, we interview them going out, but we neglect to interview them in the middle. When you interview a prospective employee, that employee is looking for something they don’t currently have and are hoping your company will provide it. When you interview them going out, they’re leaving for something they don’t have (and something you didn’t provide).
How to do a stay interview
In a stay interview, you’re asking an employee why they stay and what they like about the company before there’s any sign that they might leave. The responses, in most cases, fall into categories that are pretty similar to those you might use in an exit interview: whether you provide a safe work environment, the right compensation and benefits, and a supportive culture and sufficient work-life balance.
In most cases, an online survey with open-ended questions is the best approach for a stay interview. It allows anonymity for the employees to answer with both positive and negative responses and allows you to easily analyze the data for trends.
Here are some basic questions you can ask in a stay interview survey:
- What keeps you here?
- What do you appreciate about the company?
- What do you like or not like about your job?
- What do you like or not like about our company culture?
- If you left tomorrow, what would be the primary reason?
Keep it short and simple with four or five questions at most. Ultimately, how you approach stay interviews needs to fit your company’s culture. In some cases, a face-to-face conversation might be preferred, but be sure employees meet with someone who isn’t their direct supervisor or the owner of the company.
Analyzing and acting on the feedback
While a stay interview focuses on identifying the positives, some negative feedback will naturally occur as well. Will you be able to solve every issue that comes up? Of course not, but stay interviews still give you data to work from in terms of maintaining the positive aspects of the company and improving those that need improvement.
In consulting with many companies through the years, I’ve seen leadership make decisions in a vacuum without asking employees. One time it was a complete overhaul of healthcare benefits that resulted in a new plan that didn’t cover the closest hospital (or any of its affiliated physicians), which meant nearly every employee had to find a new doctor. Had they asked their employees in a stay interview what they valued about benefits, proximity of healthcare likely would have been a common theme, and that particular situation could have been avoided.
If multiple employees say career advancement would be their primary reason for leaving, it’s time to evaluate what you can do to provide more career advancement within the company. If they list healthcare benefits, compensation, or culture as their reason for leaving, it’s time to evaluate those things and make some changes.
Stay interviews are a powerful source of information to help a company recruit and retain employees, so what are you waiting for?
If you need help developing a process for conducting and analyzing stay interviews, call us today to discuss your needs.