Many organizations conduct exit interviews as a way to gather valuable information about why employees leave. This information can help retain top performers in the future. But ideally you'd want to uncover that information before your star performers decide to walk out the door. Enter the stay interview.
Use stay interviews to find out what makes your top performers tick
As Dr. John Sullivan writes in this recent ERE.net article, stay interviews are a great way to learn what's important to each employee. The factors that influence a person's decision to leave - or stay - aren't the same from one person to the next. Ultimately, you want to get a handle on what motivates your employees to put their best foot forward every day.
By zeroing in on these things you can create a fulfilling work environment that makes employees want to jump out of bed and come to the office every morning. Not only will this help increase employee engagement and productivity, it will also help keep employees committed to your organization for the long term.
Make stay interview conversations a regular part of one-on-one meetings
Stay interviews can be both formal and informal. It's a good idea to build stay interviews into your regular processes - for example, hold stay interviews annually with your top performers. However there are great opportunities to have more informal conversations about your employees' happiness on the job during regular one-on-one meetings with managers.
This tactic removes the pressure of a formal stay interview because it's more of a conversation than it is an "interview". As a result, employees may feel more comfortable talking about their level of satisfaction on the job.
Questions to ask during formal or informal stay interviews
Here is a sampling of stay interview questions to ask employees to gauge their level of engagement with your organization:
- What elements of your job are you enjoying the most lately?
- Do you feel like your work makes a difference in the company and that others in the organization recognize and value your work?
- Are there skills and talents you have that you feel aren't being fully utilized in your current role?
- Ideally, how would you like to see your career progress in the organization over the next two years?
- Are there new skills you'd like to learn or acquire in the months and years ahead?
- What are the kinds of things in your job that get you down weigh heavily on you after you leave the office?
- If you could completely change your job description, what would it say?
Having stay interview conversations can be a great way to build trust and open communication between managers and employees. Doing so shows employees that their manager cares if they are unhappy or feeling less-than-challenged. It can also go a long way in building a positive employee-manager relationship.
Encourage employees to speak up
You should also encourage employees to not wait for managers to ask these kinds of questions. Employees should feel comfortable coming to their manager (and to HR!) with questions, concerns or comments they have about their career progression. If people leave because they didn't feel like they could talk to their manager (or you) about what they needed in order to stay, that's a lost opportunity.
Ultimately, my message is this: the exit interview is too late; hold regular stay conversations with your employees to help keep them engaged and committed to your organization.
Your turn: Do you hold regular stay interviews? How has this engagement tactic helped you retain top talent?