Could ‘stay’ interviews help you avoid exits?

Exit interviews are a great way to gain operational insights, but come at a cost. The HR solution may well be “stay” interviews.

Could ‘stay’ interviews help you avoid exits?

Losing a star employee is never fun. Most organizations have learnt to gain some positive from this by conducting exit interviews, which provide an opportunity to learn what may have caused the high performer to jump ship.
According to Robert Walters’ whitepaper, The Exit Process: How to Gain Valuable Insights to Build a Better Workplace, which surveyed 300 hiring managers and 700 professionals, 80% of professionals give honest and constructive feedback when leaving a position.
“The exit interview presents an incredibly valuable opportunity to gain insights about a company from departing employees who feel they can be more candid with their feedback,” James Nicholson, managing director of Robert Walters in Australia and NZ, said. “If used wisely, this feedback provides an opportunity to build a better workplace through making changes that could improve the employer brand, attraction strategies or staff retention.”
While exit interviews are valuable, the process is still the outcome of a more unfortunate turn of events. As such, organizations should perhaps turn their attention towards conducting ‘stay’ interviews to achieve similar results and keep employees in the organization.
Stay interviews refer to interviews conducted with ‘flight risk’ staff. These may be top performers, those with high potential, or employees who will simply be difficult to replace if they leave.
“They are a direct opportunity to prevent flight risks from leaving, but they are also a deep dive into engagement,” Lenore Lambert, director at The Interview Group, told HC. “So other than targeted retention, they are a useful follow-up tool for engagement surveys, targeting staff in areas that are less engaged and identifying specifically what needs to be done to get the best from people.”

Lambert cited KPMG, which utilized stay interviews with its female partners to help increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The project found what drove the female partners in the organization, and what could help to fully engage and retain them.

Lambert said stay interview will be a crucial tool to help drive retention and employee engagement in the near future.

“We know from demographic data that the need for talent will outstrip supply again and when that happens I think greater numbers of employers will start to look at this kind of initiative as a relatively inexpensive and very effective way of keeping staff,” she explained.

Key HR takeaways
While Lambert stated that stay interviews are best conducted by external parties (with HR then analyzing the information gained), she did provide insights into the areas most often covered by The Interview Group’s stay interviews:

  • Satisfaction across a range of issues known to drive turnover and disengagement.
  • Identification of which of these areas are 'Flight Risk Factors' (as opposed to those they would put up with).
  • Personal engagement issues, including what forms of recognition they value the most, and what constitutes a ‘great day at work’ for the individual.
  • Feedback on their manager (this is best disclosed in aggregate only, not in Individual reports).
  • Feedback on the organization as a whole.


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