The competition for talent is intense and is only expected to become more so. Conversely, an organization’s good employees are also the most marketable. Therefore, organizations would do well to keep their finger on the pulse of their workers. Stay interviews can be an effective way to do that.
Stay interviews, in contrast to exit interviews, allow organizations to proactively assess the state of mind of their employees before these employees decide to leave. Organizations can explore: What is working for their employees? What is not working for them (what are the pebbles in their shoes)? What is most important to them? How is the organization doing against these important things? How do they feel about the organization? How can the organization make things better? Why do they stay with the organization? What would cause them to leave?
Key factors to conducting effective stay interviews include:
- A facilitator that is seen as being objective, neutral, and credible;
- Creating a “safe to say” environment where employees feel they can speak freely and with anonymity;
- Explaining that the objective is to learn about what employees are thinking and to explore where the organization can respond by making things better for employees;
- Calibrating expectations, i.e., explaining that some things can be changed, some things will be explored, and justification for why some things cannot be changed; and
- Follow-up by senior management on key learnings and resulting actions.
When employees see that management takes them seriously, values their input, and seeks to positively impact their work experience, they are more likely to see their organization in a positive light, perform well, and stay with the organization. Stay interviews can be a valuable tool to this end.