Complex Made Simple

Stay interviews and steps companies need to avoid the great resignation

We hear of the ‘great resignation’, the ‘great reshuffle,’ or the turnover tsunami” any time we speak of how today’s employees are looking to leave their current jobs. Here's what managers can do to keep them

A stay interview focuses on what could be better about employee's work experience Workers need to know they can speak freely without fear of retaliation Having a stay interview is worthless if managers can’t or won’t act on the feedback they get

We hear of the ‘great resignation’, the ‘great reshuffle,’ or the turnover tsunami” any time we speak of how today’s employees are looking to leave their current jobs in pursuit of greener pastures.

Using the US as an example, in August 2021, the number of Americans who voluntarily left their jobs reached an all-time high of 4.3 million people, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the same month, the share of U.S. workers looking for a new job grew to 55%, according to a Bankrate survey.   

Companies that don’t react fast enough to retain them, be it by offering higher salaries, better benefits or even aligning with green and social governance expectations, stand to lose.

In this article, we look at ‘stay interviews,’ the opposite of exit interviews that usually happen when staff departs, as a pre-empting measure to focus on what motivates the employees to stick around.  

“YES! Why not catch them before they leave. Love the idea of stay interviews to keep employees engaged and excited about work,” said Laura Cooke, a leadership and change management consultant.

Making the case for stay interviews

A stay interview focuses on what could be better about employee’s work experience and how they envision the next stage of their career within the organization.

Georgetown management professor Brooks Holtom told CNBC Make It that managers should approach the conversation with their employees as: “Help me understand how you’re doing, what your goals are, and what we can do in the new year to make sure you’re thriving and staying enthusiastically.”

Steps to follow:

  • Keep it informal

Stay interviews should be informal and conversational, says HR consultant and University of Phoenix career advisor Ricklyn Woods.

Workers need to know they can speak freely without fear of retaliation and know their feedback will be fully accepted, especially if feedback is about the manager conducting the interview.

  • Two-way dialogue

Managers should not come in with a ton of questions asking what their employees think needs improvement without providing his/her own perspectives

  • No status or project updates

Stay interviews should focus on how your employees feel about the work they do every day and not about to-dos and projects.

  • Recognition issues

Managers should ask their employees what unresolved issues would make them stay. Is it recognition, a raise, better benefits, feeling appreciated, or a promotion that’s lacking? In a recent Gallup survey, just over half of employees said that in their last three months on the job before they quit, no one had talked to them about how they were feeling in their role.

Steps post stay interviews  

Having a stay interview is worthless if managers can’t or won’t act on the feedback they get from their employees.

Managers are advised to summarize the feedback they’ve heard, relay what the next steps will be and provide a clear sense of what the employee can expect.

How companies should react

Companies should immediately start taking a look at their benefits packages. Are they competitive? Do they include signing bonuses or education benefits? What about additional time off and a remote working environment? Should they include perks like online psychological counseling or free yoga sessions?

While pay usually ranks No. 1 in the minds of existing and prospective employees, today’s workers also want more flexibility in doing their jobs.