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​Stay Interviews: What, who, why and how?

  • Publish Date: Posted over 2 years ago
  • Author:by MERJE

Why the stay interview is vital for alleviating post-pandemic career uncertainty

The pandemic brought with it turbulent times, but lockdown restrictions and a remote way of living afforded people with a vital opportunity to reflect upon and re-evaluate their priorities.

This inevitably led to many people reassessing their careers, casting a critical eye on any imperfections within their current role and seeking to pursue an alternative, more rewarding pathway.

There was also the added stress of not knowing whether jobs were safe following the initial uncertainty around furlough schemes and then the drastic company restructures which followed, as certain sectors crumbled under the pressure of the health crisis.

In fact, a Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% of workers were considering quitting or changing professions this year, and a study from HR software company Personio of workers in the UK and Ireland showed 38% of those surveyed planned to quit in the next six months to a year.

For many, the decision to leave came as a result of the way their employer treated them during the pandemic, as workloads spiked and people juggled their work and home lives.

Ultimately, workers have stayed at companies that offered support and walked away from those that didn’t.

This is why, in the wake of pandemic, employers should consider the value of the stay interview, which in the face of uncertainty, has the power to establish trust and facilitate positive dialogue and internal communications within a business.

They may also help to retain employees who might be in a state of flux and in need of some encouragement and an honest conversation, without fear of recrimination.

Here’s our handy guide containing what you need to know about stay interviews.

First of all, what are they?

A stay interview is an in-person meeting with a long-term employee during which you aim to uncover the aspects of their job and organisation which motivate them and provide satisfaction. It’s also used to find out what might cause a good employee to leave the company, as well as building trust between managers and their employees. A stay interview allows you to avoid recurring issues, while an exit interview offers the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

Who should conduct a stay interview?

The employee in question’s direct boss should conduct their stay interview. This helps to foster a good relationship which is based on honesty and clear communication, in turn making them more likely to stay in their role.

Who should receive a stay interview?

A stay interview program should start by placing focus on the best and most long-standing employees as they have direct experience of what keeps them in your business. Once these top level insights have been gathered, stay interviews should then be offered across the board. This is because people choose to remain in a role for a variety of reasons and you need to know what makes your organisation attractive to everyone.

Tips for conducting a stay interview

  • Allow new hires to get to know the job and your company before offering a stay interview. However, don't put it off for too long as new recruits are often more prone to leaving as they navigate the demands of a new role and organisation. Consider conducting the interview more than once in the first year of working and then annually after that.

  • Let employees know in advance the intention behind these meetings. If you make it clear that you genuinely want honest input, they’ll be more inclined to provide thoughtful answers.

  • The stay interview is about an employee’s needs, not their career progress so save those discussions for their performance review.

  • Use the interview as an opportunity to express how much you value and appreciate the employee’s work.

  • Ask the employee what makes them want to remain in their role and also what frustrations they might have so that the outcome is balanced and fair.

  • Take the time to follow up after the interview as failing to take action or address any points raised will lead to employees feeling undervalued. If they think that their concerns have fallen on deaf ears this will inevitably lead to thoughts of leaving.

  • If your organisation doesn’t have a culture of openness and trust, employees may be sceptical about the interview and, therefore, not be as forthcoming. If this is a concern, consider working on improving the company culture and using more anonymous means of gaining feedback in the meantime.

  • Ultimately, stay interviews can help to build trust, as long as the organisation is transparent and genuinely acts upon the feedback given to show employees that their input is valued.

Some sample questions to consider asking

  • What do you look forward to most at work every day?

  • What do you least look forward to every day?

  • What do you think about the way employees are recognised and rewarded?

  • How would you rate your work/life balance?

  • Do you think that you have adequate personal development and training opportunities?

  • What has recently caused you anxiety or frustration?

  • What does a good day at work look like to you?

  • What does your dream job look like?

  • What do you think about on your way to work?

  • What do you think about on your way home from work?

If you would like some further tips on how to brush up on your stay interview technique, or any other type of interview for that matter, please get in touch.