The Stay Interview: Why Your Company Needs it

Anyone who runs an office is familiar with the exit interview. When an employee leaves, you ask them questions to figure out what they did and didn’t enjoy about their job, why they left, and what they think could be improved upon. Recently, though, employers have begun to wonder why you would wait until a potentially valuable employee leaves to figure out the answers to these questions. As a result, the “stay interview” is gaining a lot of traction in workplaces.

Put simply, a stay interview is an exit interview for employees who aren’t quitting. The goal is fundamentally the same. You want to figure out what your employees like, what they don’t like, and how to create a more productive work environment. It’s not just a great way to increase employee satisfaction, it helps bring new ideas to light before it’s too late to implement them.

When conducted correctly, a stay interview is a perfect way to keep your office running smoothly. Because of the different circumstances, though, a stay interview has to be conducted a little differently than an exit interview. If you aren’t asking the right kinds of questions, you won’t get the type of results you’re looking for.

The main goal of a successful stay interview question is to get your employee talking. That’s why you should never ask a “Yes” or “No” question. Asking your employees if they want to be paid more is going to get you a predictable answer and very little in the way of useful information. Instead, ask questions that require some thought and consideration.

A great question to ask is, “What opportunities to improve yourself would you like that go beyond your current role?” Another is, “Which of your personal talents do you not feel that we’re taking enough advantage of?” These are questions that require some elaboration to answer, and both are designed to reveal something about your employees and what motivates them. You might discover hidden, incredibly useful aptitudes that flew under the radar because they weren’t part of the technical job description.

The goal is to avoid asking simple questions like, “Are you happy here?” If the answer is yes, you don’t get any other useful information. If the answer is no, you’ve set an adversarial tone and are still forced to ask more questions to learn the root of the unhappiness. Designing your questions properly lets you easily determine the level of workplace satisfaction without creating a negative atmosphere or limiting how much you can learn from the process.

If you’re not already conducting stay interviews, there’s no better time to start than now. You might uncover problems you never knew existed or find ways to improve your productivity that you never even imagined. Your employees are your most valuable resource, and a stay interview is a brilliant way to make sure they have a comfortable work environment while also developing new, more effective business practices. Just ask the right questions and you might be shocked by how much your office’s morale and effectiveness improve.