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How the Power of Stay Interviews Boosts Employee Retention (With Sample Questions)

Exit interviews are fairly common, but given the importance of retaining talent, especially during the ongoing Great Resignation, it’s essential to take action to prevent resignations before they occur—through stay interviews. 

Stay interviews not only help you proactively understand employee motivations for resignation, but they can also lead employees to potentially rethink their decision to leave.

Why Stay Interviews Are So Critical

Recent research suggests that simply having a conversation and asking the right questions can help to boost retention. A Gallup survey revealed that more than half of employees who left their employer said their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving. However, in the three months before they left, 51 percent said no one spoke with them about their job satisfaction or future with the organization. 

Just imagine if those conversations had taken place. By conducting stay interviews, managers could have understood their employees better and potentially taken action to prevent the resignations from happening at all. Consider the example of one company that credits stay interviews with a 10 percent increase in annual employee retention. As the company’s Chief People Officer recently told SHRM, “We have to ask each other how we can support the person, how they are genuinely feeling, and if there’s anything we can do, in our control, to make their situation better.”

Fortunately, stay interviews don’t have to be an HR-only activity. Yes, HR can play a role in training managers and ensuring the right conversations are happening. But direct supervisors should take the lead in conducting stay interviews as part of their regular one-on-one employee check-ins. Managers can conduct stay interviews at regular intervals and any time they sense an employee retention issue.

By trying to understand employee experiences, frustrations, and what can be done to keep them, managers can help employees feel valued and appreciated, which may encourage them to stay.

Top Stay Interview Questions to Advance Your Employee Retention Efforts

Amid the Great Resignation, employees are resigning at an unprecedented rate, often making it more stressful for employees who remain. Stay interviews can help shed light on employee concerns that might otherwise remain unspoken. 

By asking the following questions, you can better understand employee experiences and the changes that can keep them engaged and committed to stay:

What do you want to do more of in your current role? Less of?

Asking this question can help you understand if employees are feeling challenged (or overwhelmed). It can also help you gauge their current workload and the possible changes that can lead to greater fulfillment.

What can the company or I do to help you feel better connected to your work and your team?

Meaningful connections at work can deepen employees’ sense of belonging, which may encourage them to stay. Answers to this question can help you understand the connections employees find most meaningful.

Describe your top career aspirations. What can I do to help you reach them?

A recent Work Institute report found that the lack of career development was the top reason surveyed employees left their company. Ask this question to understand employee aspirations and how you can work together to support their career growth goals.

What kinds of experiences do you need to continue working here?

This question allows employees to discuss any aspect of their work experience they feel is in need of improvement.

What kind of future do you see for yourself here?

Asking this forward-thinking question can help you understand how (or even if) employees visualize a future career with your organization.

Are there any changes in the company culture that would make you more excited to stay?

This question gives employees a chance to discuss aspects of your company culture that contribute to their decision to stay or leave.

Has there been anything that has caused you to consider leaving lately?

It’s OK to be direct. This question can help you understand if employees are actively considering leaving.

If you’re considering a career change in the future, will you speak to me before you finalize your decision?

Once you’ve let employees know you want to talk to them before a potential resignation, you reduce the odds of being surprised. You may also be able to change their mind.

Stay interviews are a great way to proactively manage employee retention. By asking the right questions, you can understand why people are considering leaving your organization. You can also gain useful insights to help you create an employee experience that makes them want to stay.