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Stay interviews as an employee engagement and retention tool

Stay interviews are not done at the time of recruitment, nor are they exit interviews. A stay interview is done while the employee is working in the organization and has not quit, but shows signs of doing so. This is the defining feature of stay interviews.

As opposed to job interviews and exit interviews; stay interviews are interviews done by organizations to evaluate the level of satisfaction an employee is facing at work in the organization while she is still working there. Given the situations in which they are carried out; stay interviews are both important and necessary to ascertain the mood and attitude of the potential outgoing employees.

A stay interview is most effective when done before an employee takes a decision to quit. This is why stay interviews are more effective than exit interviews, because by the time HR conducts exit interviews, it is often too late to implement any action that will help retain the employee.

Stay interviews are a means of retaining employees

Stay interviews can be a powerful tool in helping organizations to retain employees. The relevance of this tool needs to be understood in the light of the finding presented in a recent Harvard Business Review article, which says that one fourth of employees are likely to quit organizations in the next year.

Stay interviews are some kind of midlife or mid-career course correction actions, a means for refurbishing and reaffirming the employee’s faith in the organization. Stay interviews also help to understand the levels of interest and motivation each employee is showing towards the organization. In this sense, stay interviews are a means of retaining employees.

Approach to stay interviews

The approach to stay interviews is that they should be well structured, specific and clear. They should go beyond just routine well-wishing and expression niceties and pleasantries. Since they are meant to assess the state of mind of the employee, they should help HR to delve deep into the employee’s mind and probe the feelings she has for the organization, her work and her future plans.

Stay interviews should address the exact needs of the employee and should help to identify the areas that an employee loves working on, and the areas that need a little attention. If during a stay interview, an employee expresses displeasure with a project or a colleague’s attitude, it is a strong signal for HR to take corrective action.

Should lead to positive and affirmative action

Stay interviews should be open and be approached without prejudice or with the intention of retaliating against an employee who does not have pleasant things to say during the interview. They should not only elicit replies to specific issues concerning employees; they should lead to positive and affirmative action which will address the negatives that come out of the interview.

In being personalized, focused on specific employees who are likely to leave the organization, and inexpensive; stay interviews can be very effective by being a tool to stimulate the employee.

Understand the aspects of stay interviews

The dynamics of stay interviews will be topic of a webinar that TrainHR, a leading provider of professional trainings for the human resources industry, will be offering. At this webinar, Marcia Zidle, CEO of Leaders At All Levels and a board certified executive coach, will explain the elements of stay interviews. This session is useful to HR and other professionals in an organization.

This webinar has been approved for 1 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR, PHR, PHRca, SPHR, GPHR, PHRi and SPHRi recertification through HR Certification Institute (HRCI). To enroll for this important learning session, just log on to


At this webinar, Marcia will cover the following areas:

  • Identify five key factors that impact an employee's desire to stay or leave
  • Recognize four possible “triggers” that cause the employee to consider leaving
  • Learn how to ask probing questions and conduct effective, efficient stay interviews
  • Survey a list of eight retention actions to increase employee's loyalty and commitment
  • Review a sample of stay interview questions and develop your own customized list to ask
  • Discover how to develop stay plans for your employees and manage accountability
  • Develop a simple “how-to-toolkit” that includes who to select, how and when to approach, interview formant and how to handle possible resistance.

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