Stay Interviews: The Key to Keeping Your Top Talent

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Rebecca Taylor-Clarke, Global Head of People at Tellent, explains what a stay interview is, how it is implemented and why stay interviews are the better exit interviews.

In times of skills shortages, top talent is constantly receiving offers from other companies. Employers are therefore keen to create the best possible working environment for their employees in order to retain them in the long term. But how are HR managers supposed to know what motivates employees without being in close contact with them? Stay interviews can provide these exclusive insights into the reality of work and help HR managers to constantly improve the climate in the company. The interviews revolve around the question

“If you were to resign now, what would be the reason?”.

Why stay interviews?

The exit interview after a resignation is primarily about the question of why the employee resigned and what suggestions for improvement the departing employee can make. However, the interviewee is soon no longer part of the company, can no longer participate in the changes and the feedback only benefits the future workforce.

It is therefore better to continuously ask employees for feedback and suggestions for improvement in stay interviews and to identify problems before they leave the company.

How do I conduct a stay interview?

Stay Interview: The Better Exit Interview

A stay interview should last 20 to 30 minutes and should definitely have an informal character so that employees can really give open and honest feedback – therefore no questions should be submitted in advance. However, it is important that the interview is announced as a “stay interview”, so that employees are not surprised but know what to expect.

Employers are best advised to conduct stay interviews with all employees. As there is often a lack of resources for this, the focus should initially be on individual roles or departments. HR managers can, for example, consider which positions are particularly important for the company and which resignations would have particularly serious consequences.

Stay interviews should be conducted on an ongoing basis and ideally build on one another. Companies can use development interviews, which we at Tellent conduct twice a year, as a good guide. However, development interviews and stay interviews should be conducted separately, as otherwise pressure can arise and the interview situation can be perceived as too forced.

What questions do I ask in a stay interview?

Photo survey

In terms of content, the stay interview should focus on the factors that are decisive for staying with the company, such as negative experiences, assessment of the corporate culture, benefits and salary. Specific questions could include the following, for example:

About the job position

  • How do you feel in your role?
  • Are you sufficiently supported and challenged?
  • Which of your talents are not yet being utilized?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • If there was one thing you could change in your job, what would it be?
  • About the corporate culture and environment

Why are you staying with us?

  • How do you feel about our corporate culture?
  • How can we improve our corporate culture, what would you change?
  • How well does your work-life balance work?
  • What would be a reason for you to look for a new challenge/job?

What happens to the results of the stay interviews?

Photo Woman working on laptop

After the stay interviews, the results need to be structured, prioritized and evaluated so that they can be translated into practical measures. To make it clear whether the issues raised are isolated cases or a larger trend, the responses from all interviews must be bundled and supplemented with data from other formats. Software solutions for employee engagement and feedback can also be used to obtain feedback from employees digitally to get a basic picture of the mood.

The information obtained in this way can in turn be used for more targeted questions. HR staff can then prioritize (recurring) issues such as a lack of diversity, a lack of development perspectives or negative perceptions and experiences with the corporate culture.

All relevant stakeholders in the company must be involved in the implementation of specific measures, for example with regard to home office equipment or general overload. Important: The content of the stay interviews must remain confidential and anonymous.

Conclusion: Stay interviews work

Companies should only conduct stay interviews with their employees if they are genuinely interested in making positive changes to the corporate culture and everyday working life. Only if the feedback is actually translated into concrete measures will employees really feel heard and valued.

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Photo Rebecca Taylor-Clarke

Rebecca Taylor-Clarke is Head of People at Tellent. With many years of experience in recruiting and candidate management, she is driven by her passion for bringing people and interesting opportunities together, building great teams and creating inclusive workplaces that bring joy.

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