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The Hidden Secret to Retaining Employees: An Antidote to the Great Resignation

You’ve probably conducted dozens of exit interviews, learning a lot about how you can improve everything from job descriptions to your company’s culture and communication. But those interviews don’t help you retain a valuable employee who’s already out the door.

As the “Great Resignation” continues to grow, finding out what’s working (and not working) within your company can be key to “hiring the right candidate fit” and employee retention. That’s where stay interviews can be important.


What Is a Stay Interview?

A stay interview is, in many ways, the exact opposite of an exit interview, though it can lead to the same kind of valuable information. It’s an interview that you conduct with an employee to understand why they’re not leaving and what can improve their happiness score. While they’ve always been available to employers, stay interviews are becoming more popular as companies try to improve employee retention.

Through a stay interview, you can learn what areas for improvement exist within your organization, why employees are motivated to stick with your company, and how employees would like to advance within the organization. They fuel employee engagement and morale, which in turn encourage retention.

Stay interviews are often fairly casual, conducted as an informal conversation between a direct supervisor or HR professional and an employee. Typically, the manager asks the employee about their satisfaction and attitude toward the company, their career goals, and how the company can make the employee happy to stay.


Why Should You Conduct Stay Interviews?

Employee retention is one of the key reasons to conduct stay interviews. When your employees feel that you’re listening to them, you build trust with them and show that you care about them. You also open or increase lines of communication between management and your employees, so you can understand how workers are feeling.

Through stay interviews, you can gather valuable information about why employees choose to stay at your company (what’s working) as well as why some employees might be about to leave (what’s not working). Based on the information you collect and analyze, you can start to make positive changes in the workplace to meet employees’ needs so they want to stay put. Changes that employees often seek often include stronger work relationships or mentorships, a desire for better work-life balance, hybrid or flexible work policies, and need for greater training.


Questions to Include in Your Stay Interviews

Every stay interview will be different, based on the needs and culture of your company and the specific employees you interview. The key to every stay interview is listening. You’re not trying to check questions off a form, but to explore the positives that employees find in your company, plus the areas for improvement.


Areas to explore in your stay interviews may include:

  • What challenges employees face in their jobs, including work-life balance issues
  • Areas in which employees would like to grow
  • What employees love about their job responsibilities, including why they’re excited to come to work and why they stay with their job
  • What they would do differently if they could make changes to the workplace or step into a management role
  • What they like about the company’s culture, and what improvements they’d like to see
  • How they envision their future with the company, including short-term and long-term goals
  • How they feel about their working relationship with their colleagues and management
  • What additional support management can provide

When employee retention is on your mind as you contemplate how the Great Resignation may affect you, conducting stay interviews can be a helpful solution. Incorporate these stay interviews into your overall employee retention strategy to keep your company growing and on the right path.

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

President & CEO of Barbachano International (BIP)

Barbachano International is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas with a focus on diversity and multicultural target markets.  Outplacement and Executive Coaching services are provided by our sister allied company Challenger Gray & Christmas. BIP has been recognized by Forbes as Americas’ Best Executive Search Firms and currently ranks #27 and #3 on the West Coast.  


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