How (and Why) to Conduct a Stay Interview

Retaining top talent is more important than ever in this job environment. With unemployment at historic lows and job openings elevated, workers do truly have the upper hand. In fact, according to data from CNBC, there are roughly two open job postings for every one unemployed worker. How can you go about making sure your best employees stay engaged, happy, and committed to your small business? The answer may lie in a simple task… the Stay Interview.

What is a Stay Interview?

Also coined a “retention interview,” the Stay Interview is sort of an exit interview turned backward. The interview is truly a proactive conversation that a manager holds with their best employees, to get a gauge on their feelings toward their current role. These employees aren’t necessarily looking to leave your company–but they are a key partner to helping you better understand what they like about the job, what changes you could consider making, and how best to keep them engaged and on-board. Questions such as, “Are there any areas of opportunity you see for the business?” or “What are some things you’d like to do more of (or less of) here?” Stay Interviews can also serve to help you assess an employees’ flight risk, or risk resigning.

Who Should Conduct the Interview, and Why?

While an exit interview is generally hosted by a member of the Human Resources (HR) department, a Stay Interview is initiated and conducted by your employee’s direct manager. Exit interviews also aim to gather information from departing employees on whether there are issues at the company that could potentially drive others out. The difference with a Stay Interview is that the manager is working to gather information on how to improve a specific individual’s experience. It’s important for the manager to hear this feedback firsthand so they can take any appropriate actions.

You want to make sure your business is an engaging, fun, fulfilling place for your employees. Conducting Stay Interviews with top talent on a somewhat regular basis will help you determine what needs to change, what needs to stay the same, and what needs to stop entirely. They are an ideal way to build trust and loyalty with your employees, since you’re showing them how invested you are in their happiness. They also help you identify problems and solutions to improve your employees’ experience.

How Should the Interview be Conducted?

After you’ve identified those you want to have a Stay Interview with, start scheduling them. Gather your list of questions by either coming up with some on your own, working with an HR partner, or doing a simple internet search. Some common questions might touch on work-life balance, the employee’s career goals, how valued they feel at work, and if they would change anything.

Even though you may be prepared with a list of multiple questions, the most important thing you can do during this interview is listen–this is not your conversation, and your employee should know they are leading the charge here. The second-most important thing you can do is take action. Whoever you’re speaking to is expecting something to come out of the discussion; if things don’t change after they’ve been elevated, you could lose that employee’s trust and loyalty.

We know how critical it is to have a team of top talent standing behind your business goals. That’s why we’ve put together a group of seasoned experts to help you navigate the process of securing a small business loan. We’ll be with you every step of the way, ready to help answer your questions whenever the need arises. Learn more about our team and why we’re proud to say we’ve helped thousands of small businesses like yours succeed.