Employee retention remains at the forefront of many employers’ minds – especially in light of the ongoing “Great Resignation.” In a recent article published by Fast Company, author Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic examines the concept of “stay interviews” as a possible remedy to concerns about retention.
Chamorro-Premuzic defines a stay interview as a one-on-one conversation with employees aimed at exploring what makes them choose to stay at the company. Stay interviews can clue managers in on what motivates their employees, while also giving employees a welcome chance for their honest opinions to be heard. Chamorro-Premuzic argues that these interviews are more useful than anonymous surveys, which only capture general trends and omit valuable data at the individual level.
The article provides some pointers for employers trying their hand at stay interviews. First, all employees should be interviewed, as failure to do so could imply that certain employees are valued more than others. Second, employees should be aware of the goal of the interview ahead of time, so they can clearly distinguish it from a routine work meeting and prepare accordingly. Third, psychological safety – which we blogged about previously here – is key to creating a space for open, honest feedback. It should be clear that employees will not face consequences for their honesty.
While the primary focus of stay interviews is to ask employees why they like their jobs, the conversation should also provide the opportunity for employees to comment on areas of improvement. This will convey to employees that you truly care about their experiences as a whole (not just the positive elements) and will likely result in more authentic feedback (rather than employees simply telling you what they think you want to hear). The most important way to convey the authenticity of these interviews, says Chamorro-Premuzic, is to act on their findings—by making a genuine effort to preserve the job aspects employees appreciate and improve in areas that receive constructive criticism.
Chamorro-Premuzic goes on to offer sample questions to ask in a stay interview. He includes both positively-framed questions—such as “what do you like most about working here?” and “what would make a long-term career with us enticing for you?”—as well as questions aimed at collecting constructive feedback, like “what could make your job better?” and “what would you do in my role to motivate the team more?” He cautions against reacting defensively when employees deliver constructive comments.
Inevitably, some employees will have already made up their minds to leave the company at the time of their stay interview. While it may be too late to discourage them from leaving, these employees still possess insight that can help better retain other current and future talent.