Leadership, Total Rewards

Stop Doing Exit Interviews, Start Doing Stay Interviews!

/ September 25, 2016

Exit interviews are like autopsies. They may confirm why a person is leaving, but they do little to make an employee stay.

Indeed, there are numerous reasons why exit interviews/surveys fail: they can be too excessive, they may lack truth, and they have no accountability. At this juncture in the employee-employer relationship, it’s certainly possible that the employee has checked out and either doesn’t provide any information worth acting on or does such a huge dump of things gone wrong that you’re stuck wondering whether it’s a personal vendetta or truth? Additionally, exit interviews are conducted once the valued employee is already lost, and isn’t it a universal goal for all employers to have their valued employees stay? There’s got to be a better, more pro-active approach to this, right?

You may wish to consider implementing “stay interviews” as an alternative. While exit interviews are more like autopsies, stay interviews are like your occasional wellness visits. They focus on what your current employees enjoy about working for your organization, as well as any aches and pains that may need treatment.

What are stay interviews?

These are discussions that leaders conduct with each individual employee to learn the specific actions that must be taken to strengthen that employee’s engagement and retention within the organization. Unlike exit interviews, they bring information that can be used today, and put managers in the solution seat.

Stay interviews are a great way to build trust with your employees, and trust is a essential component to employee engagement, communication, and effective teams. When employees begin to trust their managers, peers, and vice versa, they can more easily engage in constructive conflict and begin to feel committed to both the decisions they make and their organization.

Below are some best practices when it comes to conducting stay interviews:

  • They should not be conducted by HR, but by supervisors or managers.– After all, the manager is the individual who can most readily have an impact on the employee’s everyday working conditions.
  • They should be kept separate from performance reviews. -This is because when you attach something like this to compensation or performance, it takes on a political undertone that makes trust very difficult.
  • You need to be committed to making positive changes before conducting stay interviews.- If your organization decides to conduct stay interviews, employees will look for something to change as a result of their participation. If you do not take action based on the feedback received and communicate those changes to them, it will be difficult for the employees to take the initiative seriously and be willing to participate in the future.
  • Be sure to select interview questions that appear to have the most utility for your organization. There are a plethora of resources out there with sample questions to help you begin brainstorming the right stay questions to ask your employees! Click HERE for an article from The Balance containing some examples.

Does your organization conduct stay interviews? Are they ongoing discussions? Have they been successful? How have they been received by your employees? Let us know in the comments below.

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