Grace Smith
January 8, 2024

We are living in a time where terms like ‘the great resignation’ get thrown around casually. That's how common employee exits have become. According to The Economics Daily, on average, about 3.9 million people quit their jobs each year. This is both a sad and alarming fact at the same time.

During bleak times like this, companies must force themselves to look at the brighter side: Stay Inteviews.

For every employee that quits, there is a long-term employee in a company that always delivers the best performance. Let us look at how Stay Interviews can turn the tides of organizations across the globe for the better.

What Exactly is a Stay Interview?

As the name suggests, a stay interview delves into the reasons that make an employee want to stay with an organization. Retaining good employees in a company has become the biggest challenge of the decade. During a time when employees are leaving their jobs left, right, and center, it is only logical for companies to take proactive actions to prevent the same.

A stay interview is conducted between a high-performing employee (someone who has stayed with the company for a long time) and their direct manager, where the questions revolve around what made them stick to the company for so long. It focuses on things that the company got right, which can then be used to create a better work environment for the rest of the workforce. 

Stay Interview vs Exit Interview

We are all quite familiar with the exit interview. What makes it different from the stay interview? There are quite a lot of differences among them actually. Let us look at some of them:

Proactive vs Reactive

By now, you must have figured out that stay interviews are proactive in nature, while exit interviews are reactive. In other words, exit interviews are a reaction of the company towards the resignation of an employee. Stay interviews are done not as a reaction to anything but as a preparation to make the working environment better for employees.

Stay interviews are proactive so as to prevent employees from leaving the organization. There is less opportunity for feedback in exit interviews as the employee has already decided to leave the company. However, in stay interviews, there is an opportunity for managers to give productive and helpful feedback to employees. 

What is right vs What went wrong

While conducting a stay interview, questions are formatted in such a way that the agenda is to understand what the company is doing right. In stay interviews, the manager asks employees what they love about the company or what it is that makes them come back to work every day.

On the other hand, exit interviews are more retrospective in nature. Exit interviews help managers identify things that went wrong and make sure that those things are not repeated. Stay interviews help organizations identify the things that are going well and reinforce the same for all employees. 

Less formal vs More formal

Since stay interviews are not conducted because of a rather gloomy set of circumstances, they are more informal in nature. The air of the meeting itself is chipper because the manager and the employee are there to discuss all the things that made the employee happy in the organization. Exit interviews are a strict formality in most organizations, even when managers themselves dread doing so themselves.

They are mandatory as the company has lost an employee, and they need to record all the things that led them to the decision. It makes exit interviews more cold and formal while stay interviews remain warm and informal. 

Direct Manager vs HR Manager

Stay interviews are conducted by any direct manager to whom the employee reports. But when it comes to exit interviews, they are conducted strictly by HR managers alone. As stay interviews delve more into the everyday operations of the employee, the direct manager is the right person to do the interview. 

You may also be interested in: How to make the offboarding process smooth with exit surveys.

Why Should You Conduct a Stay Interview?

If the name itself is not enough, here are the top 5 reasons why you should start conducting stay interviews at your organizations more often:

1. Excellent for employee retention

The biggest reason why companies conduct stay interviews is to retain their existing employees. If more companies adopted stay interviews into their operations, they would not have to worry about exit interviews so much. Once you conduct a stay interview with your long-term and high-performing employees, you know exactly what is working and what isn't. It gives you an idea of some of the possible reasons behind employee churn. Consider this a proactive step to prevent employee resignations. 

2. Extremely cost-efficient

It is far more expensive to replace an employee than to make them stay at your company.  We know of the excruciatingly long list of activities an HR manager has to go through to find the replacement for a perfectly good employee who left your company.

So conducting a stay interview and analyzing the possible reasons behind such exits can be a way to save a ridiculous amount of money for your organization. Let us remind you that stay interviews are not free, but they are much more cost-effective as opposed to exit interviews and hiring a new employee. 

3. Increases employee engagement

Almost every organization across the globe struggles with keeping their employee engagement levels high. There can be tons of reasons for a low engagement rate among employees, most of which are specific to the industry and the organization. No matter what the reason, if not attended to, low engagement rates will pave the way to an increase in employee turnover rate.

Conducting stay interviews helps companies understand why their current employee stick with the company and what motivates them. These data, along with other useful metrics, can be used by companies to come up with ways to increase their level of employee engagement. 

For example, the survey response data collected through ThriveSparrow's engagement surveys can collect and organize employee feedback can help managers visualize department-wise engagement across department org-wide.

A screenshot of ThriveSparrow's Heatmaps
ThriveSparrow's Dynamic Heatmaps

4. Ability to give the right feedback

Managers may have a good perception on their employees' performance. But this is not fact-based or concrete, it may be subjective or even biased. Conducting stay interviews helps collect valuable employee data objectively. With this solid data in hand, managers can offer feedback that actually means something and allows employees to take the right step towards better performance. 

5. Enhance employee productivity

By observing and analyzing the patterns of high-performing employees in your organization, you can understand what aspects of the company and their job make them so productive. You can also hold an employee feedback survey after the stay interview to gauge the effectiveness of the interview. It will help solidify your findings and apply them to the organization as a whole. If an employee finds the work-life balance in the company to be the factor that leads to high productivity, you can focus on providing the same for all employees in an even better way. All of these tweaks inevitably lead to enhanced productivity.

20 Stay Interview Questions to Improve Employee Retention

Before you start with the process of stay interview, here are 20 most common questions asked by managers across the globe to their best performers to understand what it is that makes them stay with the company:

1. What do you find to be the most fulfilling aspect of your work here?

2. Is there any particular aspect of the company that attracted you to work here? 

3. If there is anything you would like to change about the office environment, what would it be?

4. Do you feel there is any particular talent of yours the company is not making use of?

An employee's job is to give his or her best work every day

5. What are the factors that motivate you to stay consistent in your performance?

6. If there is one thing you hate about your work, what would it be?

7. Are you able to maintain a good work-life balance here?

8. What is the one thing you love the most about your job role?

9. Do you feel you are being seen and recognized for the effort you put in?

10. Are there adequate opportunities for growth, both professional and personal, at the workplace?

11. What is the factor that makes you keep coming back to work here?

12. If you were to look for a new position, what features would you be expecting there?

Over 90% of employee engagement, motivation & productivity can be improved by the individual employee themselves

13. Do you have any ideas on improving the collaboration among the team members?

14. Would the addition of a new skill or technology make you do your work more efficiently?

15. Are you satisfied with the amount of feedback you receive from us?

16. Is there any particular activity you find challenging to handle? 

17. What element would make your work here even more satisfying?

Employees are a company's greatest asset – they're your competitive advantage

18. Is there anything I can do as your manager to make your work here more productive?

19. Are you satisfied with the reward and recognition program we have in place?

20. If there is any factor that would tempt you to leave the company, what would that be?

The Art of Making Your Employees Stay

Never wait for your employees to step away from their jobs for you to start making changes in the way your company functions. Employee retention is no child's play, and conducting proper stay interviews can be an efficient way to crack the code.

With ThriveSparrow, you can create effective stay interview questions and bonus employee feedback surveys, which help you analyze how well the stay interview went. You can custom design your surveys can button color and background to make it more appealing and engaging for employees to fill out. Research-backed question banks help you get started in seconds.

ThriveSparrow's Engage Module
ThriveSparrow's Engage Module

The survey responses are made anonymous and are compiled and organized to help managers make informed decisions while closing the feedback loop.

A screenshot of ThriveSparrow's Dynamic Reports for Managers
ThriveSparrow's Dynamic Reports

Try ThriveSparrow for free today and create surveys of your choice - pulse, engagement, exit and stay surveys.

You might not be able to read the minds of your employees, but interviews and surveys do cut close. So why wait? Be proactive, start structuring your stay interview questions and put a check on your organization's turnover rates