Retaining Talent and Building "A Great Place to Work"

Posted by IMEC on May 25, 2018 2:41:13 PM

Using the Stay Interview for Retention and Culture Development

Two young businesswomen having a meeting in the office sitting at a desk having a discussion with focus to a young woman wearing glassesAs companies are fighting for talent in a tight labor market there is a need for them to look at how they are retaining their best people and developing a culture that others want to join.  Too many times managers are focused on the negative aspects of managing people and do not take the time to develop the talent that's right in front of them. 

Today, departing employees are asked their opinions and experiences on their way out the door. These “exit” interviews can reveal some information about why people are leaving, however, the interviews are typically guarded and are certainly too late to affect retention. Instead, the "stay" interview is targeted at retention, exactly as its name implies. These simple conversations take the pulse of employees' current experiences, attitudes and opinions in a more routine cadence, enabling leadership to implement improvements before they have lost a valuable asset. 

As part of a talent management suite the stay interview can be a very powerful addition to an organization's HR toolbox.  Stay interviews provide the organization a chance to get ahead of the turnover curve and uncover the issues that may drive an employee to leave.

There are two main purposes to the stay interview. First, for the sake of retention, the company needs to know what it is doing right. Second, for the sake of prevention, the organization must learn why an employee is looking to leave. Sample questions might include "What do you like best about working here?" or "What frustrates you the most about your role?" 

The interviews are conducted one-on-one and should only require about a half an hour of the staff's time. In an effective stay interview managers ask structured, open-ended questions in a casual and conversational manner. Experts recommend holding all of the interviews within a small time window rather than spread out throughout the year.

It’s also suggested to repeat the process annually. As with all such efforts, management must take the lead and act upon the information they receive. If they don’t act they will certainly see no change, but could further harm an already poor culture. As a caution, the stay interview is not a replacement for frequent feedback and coaching, but a complement to these activities.

portrait of young businessman in casual clothes at modern  startup business office space,  working on laptop  computer

In organizations that demonstrate a high performance culture, the stay interview is an excellent companion to new or existing efforts including understanding the voice of employees through a routine employee engagement survey or structured leadership development and professional development training plans. Any organization focused on the attraction and retention of top notch talent should consider the benefits – reduced turnover and an improvement in workplace culture, and ultimately, an improvement to the bottom line.

Interested in learning more? Find other great articles on employee productivity and engagement here:


Written by IMEC

Topics: employee engagement, workforce development

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