Unexplored power of stay interviews

Writing exclusively for MediaBrief, Shiraz Khan, Founder and Director of Spicetree Design Agency (SDA), underlines the importance of conducting Stay Interviews and highlights how it’s emerging as a highly reliable employee retention tool.
Khan outlines how companies can set up Stay Interviews and shares the questions that employers can put forth. Khan emphasizes on retaining employees that add value to business growth and spotlights how companies can implement what they learn during the process.

The great resignation is disrupting the present-day hiring climate, and one of the factors enticing top talent is the company culture, as opposed to quarterly bonuses, higher incentives, or flexible qualifications.

Instead of solely focusing on hiring new talent, organizations are also re-evaluating their way of functioning and taking a closer look at their true stayers. Organizations of all sizes are beefing up their retention efforts, and naturally, “stay interviews” have emerged as the buzzword in the Human Resources (HR) ecosystem.

Think of it as the antonym of an exit interview, wherein, rather than identifying why an employee wants to or has quit already; a stay interview helps you find out why employees are sticking with the company and how their experience can be enhanced. With stay interviews, you still have the opportunity to bring about changes that will improve employee job satisfaction.

Through stay interviews, an employer can also discover what their employees think of their organization and how they envision their future growth and career within the company.

Although the concept of stay interviews isn’t new, the application is emerging now more than ever before, as employers are focusing on employee retention strategies.

If you are spearheading a team or have a company of your own and want to evaluate if stay interviews are better than exit interviews or engagement surveys, here is all the information that might help you.

How to set up a stay interview?
Managers leading a team can schedule one-on-one meetings with their existing, long-term employees at least once or twice a year. Likewise, with new employees, you may want to organize such conversations every three to six months to ensure your employees are happy and encouraged in their role at the company.

Ideally, it is good to have a stay interview with all the employees in the company, so you can get a clear picture of what needs to change and how the culture can be improved. However, if it is not feasible to interview each of them, then shortlist employees across departments and seniority levels.

Such people can then speak to top performers to identify how they can be retained and with those who seem disconnected since they are likely to offer constructive feedback. Importantly, inform your employees of stay interviews well in advance, so they get enough time to prepare, and the meeting will be productive.

Stay Interview questions to ask your employees
Whether you are a business owner or manager, the onus of letting your employees know that they are valued and that their contribution to the organization is appreciated lies with you. Based on this premise, ask them what drives them to stay at the company and how their work experience can be enhanced.

It is also essential to make your employees feel comfortable and know that their feedback and criticism are welcome and will be escalated with management to execute changes without allowing their identity set lost.

Here are some of the stay interview questions that you can consider covering:

  • What excites them to show up to work every day?
  • What do they like about their work profile, and what would they want to change?
  • Do they feel appreciated and recognized for the impact of their work?
  • How do they feel about their professional relationship with their teammates, manager, and other resources they engage with?
  • What are their thoughts about the company culture and what needs to improve?
  • Are they able to strike a positive work-life balance? If not, how can the organization support it?
  • What are some setbacks they are facing within the organization that could stop them from delivering the best performance? How can the team and company contribute to alleviating these challenges?
  • What are their long-term career goals? Do they see a future for themselves at the company?
  • If they were a manager or CEO for 24 hours, what would they do differently?

It is helpful to have conversations on these topics, as they cover the primary reasons employees quit organizations. Even if some questions are awkward and difficult to ask, the feedback can be leveraged to make proactive changes, eliminating the risk of top performers handing over their unexpected resignations.

How can companies implement what they learn?
Conducting a stay interview won’t make much of a difference if managers and top management authorities don’t act on the feedback received from the employees. It is advisable to close the stay interview on a positive, assuring note: thank your employees for their time, recapitulate the feedback they gave, communicate what your next steps would be, and provide them with clarity on what they can expect shortly following the discussion.

At the employer level, it would be ideal if the management team takes immediate action on small feedback, such as delegating disliked tasks, conducting training and development training to help them learn new skills, or streamlining specific processes hampering their productivity.

However, it is helpful to have an organizational meeting to communicate the broader feedback attained through the stay interviews, as significant changes may be required to retain employees.

The bottom line
In this highly-competitive talent market, employers are left with no option but to take proactive measures for retention. Stay interviews prove to be the drivers of change that help enable retention and face the challenges head-on that could push genuine employees towards the exit door.

So, please do not wait until it is late. Conduct stay interviews if you are not already, and retain the employees that add value to your business growth.

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