The Many Benefits That Come From Using ‘Stay” Interviews

Illustration by istockphoto.com
Illustration by istockphoto.com

First of three parts

Many firms use exit interviews to find out why employees are leaving their jobs.

Unfortunately, asking an employee on their last day “why are you leaving?” doesn’t provide useful information in time to prevent the turnover.

A superior approach that I’ve been recommending for over 20 years is a “stay interview.” I alternatively call it a “pre-exit interview,” because it occurs before there is any hint that an employee is about to exit the firm.

A stay interview helps you understand why employees stay, so that those important factors can be reinforced.

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Definition: A “stay interview” is a periodic one-on-one structured retention interview between a manager and a highly valued “at-risk-of-leaving employee” that identifies and then reinforces the factors that drive an employee to stay. It also identifies and minimizes any “triggers” that might cause them to consider quitting.

The many benefits of “stay” interviews

Some of the reasons why stay interviews have proven to be an effective retention tool over the years include:

  • They stimulate the employee  Most employees are excited simply by the fact that the organization is concerned about their future and that their manager took the time to consult with them.
  • They’re personalized – Unlike engagement surveys and many other retention tools that are focused on what excites a large number of employees, this approach is customized to a single identifiable individual and their wants.
  • They are limited to key employees – By having a “stay” discussion exclusively with your key employees who are at risk of leaving, you focus the manager’s effort and you minimize the overall time that the manager must devote to retention.
  • They include actions – Unlike exit interviews, which only identify problems, stay interviews also encourage the parties to identify actions that can improve the employee experience and actions that can help eliminate any major frustrators or turnover triggers.
  • Lower employee emotions – The discussion occurs before the employee has made the decision to consider leaving. As a result, the emotions of the employee (and perhaps the manager) are lower.
  • Low time pressure on the manager – Because the employee is not actively interviewing for a job, there is less time pressure on the manager to immediately solve the identified retention issues.
  • A focus on the positive – Most of the interview is focused on identifying and then reinforcing the positive factors that the employee enjoys about their job. Although some negative factors may be covered, they are not the primary focus of the interview.
  • They don’t require training – Most managers can successfully conduct stay interviews without any formal training. A simple “how-to toolkit” is generally all that a manager needs to successfully conduct these interviews.
  • They are inexpensive – These informal interviews don’t require a budget. In most cases, an hour of a manager and an employee’s time are the only major cost factors.

Tomorrow: 20 Stay” Interview Questions to Consider

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

 

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