Your workforce is your most valuable asset. A recruited, well-trained employee is an investment, so companies go to great lengths to retain their employees. These days successful organizations seek to improve employee retention with stay interviews. Whereas exit interviews are reactive and conducted after an employee has already decided to leave, stay interviews are prophylactic in nature. Stay interviews are held periodically in a one-on-one setting with managers and employees to discover why employees decide to stay at (or leave) their jobs. Conducting stay interviews can motivate and inspire your workforce, improving team morale and giving them a tangible sign that their workplace experiences are taken seriously.
You must first earn your team's trust if stay interviews are going to be effective. Try to foster an environment where candid, upfront conversations can take place. If you already have this type of culture, then great -- but if not, take the time to engage in some team-building exercises. Make sure that your employees are aligning around the same goals. Help them build strong, effective working relationships. Once that begins to happens, your stay interviews will net you genuine insights and help you to make changes that have a positive impact.
Asking stay interview questions authenticates your interest in your employee's well-being. Don't stop there -- encourage the employee to ask questions of you as well. A stay interview is NOT an employee satisfaction survey. You want these conversations to be reciprocal. Only then will learn about what really matters to your employee. Ask non-threatening questions (e.g.) that will encourage employees to give honest answers. Phrase the questions in interesting, thought-provoking ways. Remember, the goal is to find out what prompts good employees to stay and identify problem areas that might make it easy for them to leave. Some examples of stay interview questions are:
• Do you feel appreciated? What makes you feel appreciated? What would make you feel more appreciated?
• If you inherited a billion dollars and retired, what would you miss about your job?
• What about your job gets you excited? What about your job do you dread?
• What would make you consider leaving for another job?
• What talents or skills do you possess that are not being used in your current role?
• If you could change one thing about our organization, what would it be?
One very important thing to remember: once you begin conducting stay interviews, your employees will start to expect positive results in the workplace. Make sure your leadership team is committed to affecting change based on stay interview data, otherwise you will run the risk of leaving your workforce disenfranchised. Analyze these stay interviews carefully. Look for patterns and trends within the organization and pinpoint key areas to focus on. And when changes come, be sure to let the employees know that these changes are the product of their counsel and feedback. They will feel that they are a part of a team that is engaged and valued.