Many organizations are struggling to keep talent from leaving, yet few organizations take the time to talk to their employees to learn what factors make them want to stay. When new employees onboard, they go through a new hire check-in and when employees leave, they’ll get an exit interview. But what about the time in between? A stay interview uncovers what motivates current employees to stay in their job and what might trigger them to leave. When you know what keeps people attached to their work, you can implement more intentional and proactive practices to keep them in the long run.
Stay interviews are a great way to make employees feel seen, heard, and valued. They focus on how employees feel about the work they do every day and what you can do to make sure they are thriving. Whether it is through a survey or a one-on-one conversation, here are 5 stay interview questions you should be asking your people:
1) What do you look forward to at work?
This is a simple place to start the stay interview questions. By focusing on the positives first, this should (hopefully) be an easy question for them to answer and can uncover the nuance of things that bring them joy at work. Starting here can help them warm up for the rest of the questions that may dig a bit deeper.
2) Do you like the type of work that you do? Why or why not?
This question can be asked in different ways depending on the format of the stay interview. If being done in a survey format, you could make this an open-ended question so they can expand on their answer or ask them to select their level of agreement with the statement “I like the type of work that I do”. The key is to understand the ‘why’ behind their answer and identify what factors play into this feeling.
3) Do you feel valued as an employee?
Oftentimes people really enjoy the type of work they do, but don’t necessarily feel valued or appreciated by their managers or coworkers. Part of staying at an organization for the long haul is feeling respect from those around you. This is an important question to ask to get a deeper understanding of all the aspects that may be playing a role in their satisfaction with the workplace.
4) What would you change about the company and the culture if you could?
Asking this question gives the respondent a chance to provide direct suggestions for improvement that could then be considered when making future decisions. They will likely have useful perspectives and ideas that could create meaningful change for them and those around them.
5) What are some deal breakers for you that would make you consider leaving this job?
Exploring deal breakers early is key to retention. If you are on the same page as your people, you’ll know what should be avoided when making tough decisions around things like budget cuts, in-person vs remote work, and changes in management. Retention and engagement can be a balancing act of embracing what employees do like and avoiding what they don’t.
If you really want to get well-rounded data on how your people are feeling, ask them to rank workplace factors by how much they motivate them to stay. For example, you could give them a list of the following factors and ask them to rank them in order of importance or rate each one on a scale of impact.
- Work/life Balance
- Learning & Development Opportunities
- Schedule & Flexibility
Best Practices for Conducting Stay Interviews
An important part of a successful stay interview is making sure that your employees feel comfortable sharing their feedback. If you are conducting stay interviews face-to-face, make sure that they are done by someone trustworthy and who can stay unbiased. If managers do not have the capacity or right skill set to conduct them, have an HR representative be the interviewer. Whether you are doing automated surveys or interviews, assure your employees that their information will be kept confidential and there will not be any repercussions for sharing their honest feedback.
What Happens After the Stay Interview?
Conducting stay interviews will not be effective if you don’t act on the feedback you get. Once feedback is gathered, the next phase of the process is crucial. Managers should schedule a one-on-one discussion to further understand, learn, and address concerns mentioned in the feedback. Managers should create a retention plan that addresses the insights provided, check in often with employees, and monitor progress by continuing to ask stay interview questions. This process provides an opportunity to build and strengthen the relationship between the manager and employee and drive the positive changes they both seek in the workplace.