Imagine a workplace with motivated and engaged people who talk honestly about how they feel working for the company.
If you, like many others, are fed up with the merry-go-round of recruiting, sourcing and training new recruits, just for them to leave a short while later, there is a solution. A simple process that takes just 20 minutes and needs to be conducted only once or twice a year.
Enter the ‘stay interview’ — a vital and cost-efficient tool in any manager’s toolbox to keep employees happy, engaged and trusting in their employer.
What exactly is a stay interview?
A stay interview is a one-to-one informal conversation between a direct manager and each of their employees, on why they work for the company and ultimately why they stay. It consists of (but is not limited to) five key questions that help prompt the manager and employee to discuss essential issues. Held once or twice a year, for up to 30 minutes, stay interviews can help identify issues before they become a real problem.
How to conduct an effective stay interview
- Communicate your intention. Notify your teams in advance that you’ll be holding stay interviews and let them know when.
- Set a time limit and manage expectations. Schedule the timing for 30 minutes maximum, so staff are aware it’s not a long and tedious process.
- Make them meaningful. Don’t send the questions in advance, this will only reduce the conversation and won’t bring about the desired results of spontaneous and open discussions between employee and management.
- Long-term goals. Make sure the company and leadership are committed to holding these conversations for the long-term, and that this isn’t a fad de jour.
Key questions to ask in a stay interview
- When you travel to work each day, what things do you look forward to?
- What are you learning here?
- Why do you stay here?
- When was the last time you thought about leaving our team? What prompted it?
- What can I do to make your experience at work better for you?
As with any one-on-one discussion between a manager and their employees, there needs to be a follow up process. A short list of simple actions that both parties have committed to is appropriate. These items need to be actioned within 30 days, so the employee feels that their comments have been listened to. There needs to be a level of accountability from both sides to make these a success, raising the level of trust and engagement from the employee.
Practice makes perfect when mastering the art of conducting stay interviews. What at first might feel uncomfortable will soon feel more natural as time progresses. The question of “why are you here?” will be less existential and more practical in helping managers understand their people and what they want. Companies won’t need to ask, “Why are you leaving,” because the results will speak for themselves.
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