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Here is a method that is helping businesses retain their top talent: stay interviews

Posted by Tasnim Ahmed

May 10, 2021

An invested and dedicated employee is an asset like no other. But the reality is you don’t always know what’s going in their mind unless you probe; they may be eyeing greener pastures. Businesses have long relied on the exit interview to learn how they could improve and see the employee off in a positive manner, and in some cases even encourage the worker to stay. While some insight is garnered from these interactions, many people consider exit interviews a mere formality that is too little, too late.

While an exit interview attempts to derive information from a person who has already divested emotionally from your workplace, a new trend dubbed the stay interview is taking hold that illustrates the adage that prevention is better than a cure. A stay interview is a one-on-one session between HR or management with an employee that attempts to home in on problems that may be affecting the staff member’s well-being and performance. It is intended to act as a safety valve by easing the severity of a situation before it reaches a boiling point.

Many HR professionals swear by the stay interview as a key method of employee retention and engagement. When done well, the process increases camaraderie, provides deep work insights, refreshes employee-employer relations and provides positive reinforcement for the employee. But what, exactly, does a stay interview entail? Are certain topics a no-no? Below are some pointers culled from HR leaders who conduct stay interviews.

Here is what to ask at an employee stay interview:

  • What do they like about their job?

    If you have satisfied employees, find out what they like about their present scenario. If you have dissatisfied employees, find out what needs to be addressed. This simple question will prompt employees to open up and set the tone for candor.
  • Describe your best day at work.

    Not all days are alike, and certainly some are better than others for all of us. Ask what can be done to replicate that employee’s particularly good day at work. This helps the employee have positive experiences with you in the future and will increase their productivity.
  • What’s your dream?

    It can be anything, such as a job, a certain car, a house or a holiday etc. Knowing the dreams and aspirations of your employee, especially those pertaining to their professional sides will help you better understanding your workforce and also give you insight into individual colleagues.
  • Do you like the professional opportunities available to you at work?

    Find out whether the opportunities provided to your team are aligned with their needs and goals. Perhaps they want a different type of training or developmental program. Dig deeper to find out whether the programs are good, and if benefitting at all from them. This information will help you provide tailor-made programs and effective courses.
  • Are your skills fully utilized?

    This is one of the most important points. It is absolutely necessary to recognize the aptitude and potential each individual has to offer. Proper mining of data when it comes to your employees’ skills will shine a light on skills that a company can benefit from and the employee can showcase. Employees often feel like a cog in a machine, which in turn fosters resentment. But when management is cognizant of their abilities, staff have more opportunities to stand out.

Beyond the stay interview

The stay interview is an excellent tool for periodic engagement with employees. But what about day-to-day operations? It may strike an employee is disingenuous if leaders conduct an infrequent stay interview without checking in from time to time afterward. You should be routinely asking questions to ascertain mood among employees to ward off issues before they get too big.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask to gauge employees’ mindset:

  •       In response to “I love my job:” What happened on this day?
  •       In response to “I hate my job:” What happened on this day?
  •       What is the one thing that makes you to be a proud employee of this organization?
  •       Do you like your manager? Any feedback to share?
  •       What is the least and the most favorite thing about working here?
  •       If given an opportunity to leave, what is the one thing that would tempt you?
  •       What further skills and talents can you potentially bring?
  •       Is there anything specific that you would love to learn?
  •       What drives you?
  •       What can we do to support you more?


Tasnim Ahmed
Tasnim Ahmed

Tasnim Ahmed is a content writer at Escalon Business Services who enjoys writing on a multitude of subjects that include finops, peopleops, risk management, entrepreneurship, VC and startup culture. Based in Delhi NCR, she previously contributed to ANI, Qatar Tribune, Marhaba, Havas Worldwide, and curated content for top-notch brands in the PR sphere. On weekends, she loves to explore the city on a motorcycle and binge watch new OTT releases with a plateful of piping hot dumplings!

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