By: Helios on May 31st, 2023

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Stay Interviews Can Be The Key To Employee Retention

Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices | Employee Relations

Vacancies are currently at a record high, with over 10 million open positions in the United States. As a result, hiring managers are finding it harder than ever to recruit top talent for their teams.

It also means that existing employees have lots of options if they feel ready for a new challenge. Retaining your current employees is now harder than ever—but there are things you can do to help reduce staff turnover. And one of the easiest things you can do is conduct stay interviews. 

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What is a stay interview?

A stay interview is a formal meeting where the employer asks employees why they choose to remain with the company. Stay interviews help identify retention risks and highlight what you’re getting right as an employer.

Stay interviews are the counterpart of the exit interviews that companies perform when someone has resigned. The purpose of an exit interview is to find out why someone is leaving. Stay interviews are about making sure that people don’t leave at all.

Questions to ask when you conduct stay interviews

When you conduct stay interviews, you’ll generally ask questions that focus on topics that can lead to retention issues. Each stay interview question can tell you about things like:

  • Employee engagement
  • Salary and rewards
  • Company culture
  • Professional development and career paths
  • Goals and strategy
  • Stress, workload, and work-life balance

Most stay interviews will include questions like:

  • Tell me about your typical day at work.
  • What makes you happy at work each day?
  • What’s the biggest source of frustration at your job?
  • Do you feel a personal connection with your colleagues?
  • What’s your long-term goal within this company?
  • How do your working patterns impact your personal life?
  • What’s one thing you’d change about your team?
  • Do you feel passionate about the company’s mission? If so, do you understand how your job is essential for that mission?

You can create questions that are specific to one team, or add questions that speak to the employee’s personal circumstances.

However, it’s a good idea to ask some general questions about the employee experience. The answers to these questions will help you pinpoint some of the push factors that could pose a retention risk.

How to improve retention with effective stay interviews

Conducting a stay interview is easy. What happens next is the tricky part. Once you’ve spoken to your team, it’s time to take that data and create a meaningful action plan to improve employee retention.

Compile and analyze answers

There are two types of data that you can glean from a stay interview:

  • Individual retention factors: Reasons that one specific person might leave (or stay.)
  • Group retention factors: Aspects of your culture and organization that influence all employees, or employees within a certain profile.

HR professionals should have the skills to derive meaningful insights from your stay interview data. You can also cross-reference with data from other sources, such as an engagement survey. If you don’t have those skills in-house, consider speaking to an HR consultant with retention expertise.

Identify the main push factors

Certain themes will jump out when you look at all of the answers together. You might find that there are issues with compensation, culture, or workloads. Employees could express dissatisfaction with their development opportunities or skepticism about your company’s mission.

These are all push factors: things that make people want to leave. Employees are also subject to pull factors, such as opportunities elsewhere or a desire for a different approach to the work-life balance. When an employee starts to feel strong push and pull factors, it’s only a matter of time before they walk away.

Related Reading: The Complete Guide to Employee Retention

Identify your main attractors

Equally, there are plenty of reasons that people choose to stay with you. It might be your benefits offering, or the team camaraderie, or just that they love their work. The stay interview data will help you identify your core strengths as an employer.

Understanding your strengths will play a big role in improving your employee retention rates. It can also help with recruitment. For example, if your current team says they love flexible working, then you’ll know to highlight flexible working as a benefit when speaking to candidates.

Build a response plan

After gathering the data, the next step is to build a response plan based on your stay interview findings. This plan will need to consider four main tasks:

  • Fixing problems: Solutions that tackle the main push factors, such as performing a compensation benchmarking exercise, investing in training and development, or allowing people to work from home.
  • Developing strengths: Ideas for building on the things you’re getting right. For example, if employees like your mentoring scheme, then you can look at ways to extend that scheme to everyone.
  • Total rewards and employee recognition: During the stay interviews, certain names will keep coming up. These are the individuals who contribute to a terrific working environment. It’s a good idea to formally recognize these people, either through a bonus or a formal commendation.
  • Individual concerns: Some people will have raised specific concerns about their own job during the interview. Work with local managers to develop unique action plans that help to retain these individuals, especially if they’re high-performing employees.

If you have a lot of action points, it’s good to focus on a select few goals that you can achieve in the short term so you can build some momentum. You can check in on employee progress during regular performance reviews. 

Offer feedback to the team

Publishing the results of your analysis can have a powerful effect on employee morale, especially if it’s backed up by a meaningful action plan. Speak to the team about:

  • What you’ve learned from employee feedback
  • What you see as your main strengths
  • What you see as the biggest problems
  • What kind of positive change you plan to implement
  • What kind of follow-up to expect

When employees see that you genuinely care about them, they’re more likely to feel secure and valued. And that’s the key to a successful employee retention strategy.

How to retain your best employees

Building a great team is a challenge—keeping that team together is an even bigger challenge. Stay interviews are an essential element of any human resources team's retention strategy.

To build your strategy further, take a look at some of Helios HR's other resources, including: 

Don't risk losing your best people. Book a no-obligation call with an HR consultant and start building a rock-solid retention strategy.

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