IS THERE REALLY POWER IN STAY INTERVIEWS?

By June 8, 2017Blog

Hands raised, who has heard of stay interviews? I’m finding, it isn’t a well-known activity even though it’s been around for a number of years.  My goal with this article is to shed some light on what a stay interview is and to flesh out if it might work in your organization.

What is a stay interview?

A: Stay interviews are a periodic one-on-one proactive approach to obtaining information from a highly valued employee. The focus is on retaining and engaging those highly valued employees.

What’s the difference between a stay interview and an exit interview?

A: Stay interviews are proactive whereas exit interviews are reactive. Both typically give you good actionable information.

Stay interviews are used to engage those valuable employees and find out things before the worker has resigned. This gives managers a chance to address and correct problems sooner. It’s also a great tool to find out what staff love about their job and the organization they work for and also why they stay.

Exit interviews can give an organization great information as to why an employee has chosen to move on. People tend to be more open and honest with their feedback when they are on their way out as well.

When, how often and with whom should we conduct stay interviews?

A: There are several answers to the when and how often:

  1. It could be very useful after the first month of a new employees hire. Are the reasons they accepted the job the same after a month on the job?
  2. Twice per year.
  3. Randomly throughout the year.
  4. During times of restructure and change.

As to with whom:

  1. Your high performers
  2. Your high potentials you want to grow
  3. Your “steady Eddies”
  4. Newly hired
  5. At risk employees you want to retain

Who runs the meeting? HR or the manager?

A: First of all, assuming there is mutual trust and respect between the employee and manager, the manager should be conducting the meeting and asking the questions. This is another way to enhance the supervisor-employee relationship and for managers to better understand how their actions, or non-actions, might impact an employee’s desire to continue to work for the organization or move on.

What sort of questions should be asked?

A: There are hundreds of options. Here are five to get you started.

  1. What attracted you to this job?
  2. What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
  3. What keeps you working here?
  4. What one thing would you change about your job?
  5. What can I do to make your job more satisfying?

What do I do with the conversation? What now?

A: Write up the employees’ responses to your questions. Follow through. Communicate with your employee on what you plan to do in response to their input including timelines. Be upfront with your employees. If there are areas or changes that you as the manager can’t make, be honest and forthcoming and let them know.

Remember, this is an opportunity to listen and gain useful information to proactively keep your staff engaged and challenged at your organization. Stay focused on them, don’t get defensive with their comments or concerns. This is another opportunity to show your employees how important they are to the organization and your mission. Yes, there is power in the stay interview!


The above article was written by Sonya Llewellyn, Associate Director of HR Services, as part of the Spring 2017 HR Newsletter distributed to members of 501(c) Agencies Trust. Members of 501(c) Agencies Trust have unlimited access to a team of nonprofit HR experts to help augment their existing HR functions. This service is also offered as a standalone subscription service – Nonprofit HR Hotline.

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