What Every Manager Needs to Know About Stay Interviews


To quote Benjamin Franklin: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Why not put a plan into action now to help boost office morale and reduce employee turnover – before it's a concern? Here's all you need to know about a tool that can help: stay interviews.

When it comes to your personal health, taking steps to prevent an illness is usually easier – and more affordable – than treating it. The same holds true for your company’s wellbeing. Putting in the effort to conduct annual stay interviews can be more cost effective than losing a valuable employee or the cost of a bad hire. However, many companies fail to conduct stay interviews.

What is a Stay Interview?

Like an exit interview, a stay interview is a discussion between an employer and employee about job satisfaction. Exit interviews take place when an employee is leaving, while stay interviews are held regularly with current employees. If an exit interview is a way of finding a remedy for high employee turnover, think of a stay interview as prevention – keeping a monitor on your staff’s pulse and taking steps to ensure their blood pressure doesn’t spike.

When Should I Schedule Them?

While it may be tempting to merge stay interviews with performance evaluations, the goals are different. It’s best to hold them separately. Performance evaluations focus on what the employee has done for the company. Stay interviews are more about what the company can do for the employee.

It’s a good idea to avoid scheduling stay interviews during particularly stressful times, such as tax season or weeks before an intense deadline. Additionally, be sure to clearly explain the purpose of the stay interview before the actual meeting. Let your staff know you want their honest opinions about the workplace.

What Kind of Questions Should I Ask?

Avoid yes-or-no questions. “Are you happy here?” won’t offer any insight if the answer is “no.” Instead, ask employees for specifics. Which tasks do they find most rewarding, and which do they find dull? Do they possess skills they aren’t using, or is any of their work too demanding? What are their goals in their position and beyond? While this is an opportunity for employees to be forthright, steer them away from pointing fingers and laying blame on other workers, and instead keep them focused on the work environment and their specific role within the company.

What Comes Next?

If you don’t follow through and take action after your stay interviews, employees will think these discussions were a waste of time. Organize the answers you received from your staff and think of them as responses to a survey. Start by looking for patterns. What was the most popular perk among employees? What did most workers wish they could change about the company culture? Once you identify negative – or positive – trends, you can begin to brainstorm ways to improve your workplace. Be sure to let your staff know the steps you’re taking to boost job satisfaction and reduce employee turnover.

Employee appreciation should be a year-round endeavor. Have you considered using stay interviews to decrease employee turnover? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Tags: Management