stay-interviewIf your company is waiting until an exit interview to figure out what you can do to keep your employees from leaving, you are too late to affect change. The best practice to reduce employee turnover is one that measures employee job satisfaction and engagement on an ongoing basis. An essential part of this focus on employee retention is the stay interview.

Stay interviews are designed to engage employees before they become dissatisfied. They provide a two-way conversation, between a manager and valued employee, giving a chance to ask questions and follow-up on ideas. Its aim is to understand what makes employees want to keep working for you, as well as learn what might make key employees want to leave.

Stay interviews should be held once a year, during a slow business period, and consist of the following:

Show your Appreciation
To initiate the stay interview it is crucial to not only thank the employee for taking the time to have this discussion, but to convey how important the work they’re doing is and how valued they are.

Stay Factors
After easing into the interview it’s time to find out the conditions that inspire and drive your employee to accomplish great work. With this information comes an understanding of what makes them stay, and what you can do to create those conditions.
Example Question: “Do you feel that you are currently doing the best work of your life? What are the factors that could contribute to you doing the best work of your life?”

Triggers
Ask about recent frustrations that may lead employees to at least begin considering to look for a new job. It’s usually not just about money. Understanding what may lead employees to leave will help you understand what it may take to address turnover among your top talent.
Example Question: “Think back to a time in the last 12 months when you have been at least slightly frustrated or anxious about your current role. Can you list for me the frustration factor or factors that most contributed to that anxiety? Can you also help me understand what eventually happened to lower that frustration level?

Addressing Challenges
Sometimes stay interviews uncover unpleasant truths. Explaining away the responses, making excuses, or becoming defensive will derail your process for understanding employee satisfaction and retention. To develop an effective approach create a Stay Interview Tool Kit. The toolkit should include a format that gives managers choices, so that they can customize the approach to their own situation. The toolkit should include dos and don’ts, frequently asked questions and answers, a directory of help services, a list of possible “stay questions” to ask the employee, and most importantly, a list of acceptable retention actions that are available to any manager for improving an employee’s job and for minimizing possible retention triggers.