The stay interview is one of the most important meetings in a manager or leader’s schedule, but in order to maximise its potential, you have to choose your stay interview questions wisely.
A good stay interview will help you understand what your employee needs to thrive, and, crucially, what you can do to stop them from walking out the door in 3, 6 or 12 months’ time. It’s also a valuable opportunity to discuss career progression and identify any wider issues impacting employee engagement or company culture.
Conducting a series of stay interviews is low-cost way to boost retention, so it's a smart move for any leader. But of course, in order for these interviews to have a real impact, we need to be intentional, not only about the questions we ask, but also how we follow up on the responses.
Today, we're tackling the first part of the puzzle by providing a handy 1-on-1 meeting agenda template for your next round of stay interviews. If you'd prefer to choose the talking points yourself, we've got you covered with a longlist of 29 stay interview questions to choose from.
We're also sharing answers to some stay interview FAQs and a handful of tips to help you optimise the process. So let's get started!
A stay interview is a conversation in which a manager or member of the HR team explores how they can keep an employee from leaving the organisation.
Even if the employee ends up leaving, stay interviews can be really useful in identifying room for improvement across employee engagement and satisfaction.
While an exit interview aims to uncover the reasons behind employee departure after they've handed in their resignation, a stay interview hopes to achieve this before the employee accepts another role.
The goal of a stay interview is to understand why an employee might leave the organisation, before they’ve made the decision to do so.
Here’s a brief summary of what managers, HR and leaders should be looking for:
- Red flags that suggest your employee is about to leave
- Red flags that hint at uninspiring culture or, even worse, a toxic work environment
- Suggestions for how to better support the employee
- Suggestions for how to better support employees in general
- Specific company policies, supports or compensation that the employee is looking for
- Ways the manager could improve their performance as manager
- Ways the company could improve employee engagement or satisfaction
- An understanding of the employee’s career goals, and how the company can help support them
Let's take a look at some of the potential benefits of conducting stay interviews:
- They can improve employee retention, engagement and satisfaction.
- They help retain employees on an individual basis.
- They’re a low-cost retention tool. While there may be costs associated with stay interview outcomes - e.g. the employee gets a raise, training is funded to help them reach their career goals - the only direct cost is the participants’ time.
- They allow you to address problems as they arise.
- They inform your company’s talent strategy by providing insights on how your offering compares with that of your competitors.
- They show employees that you value their opinion.
- They help you assess the health of company culture and employee wellbeing.
- They can increase an employee's feeling of worth.
- They can energise employees and stimulate ideas.
- They identify opportunities for employee career development.
Stay interviews are usually held once or twice a year, more regularly in some organisations. They may be held with all of your people, or just a few key people that you’re especially keen to retain.
Stay interviews are usually between 30 minutes and 1 hour long. 45 minutes is a good amount of time to start with.
A stay interview isn’t a one-way conversation. As well as asking questions, the manager or HR leader should aim to do the following:
- Recognise and show appreciation for the employee’s hard work and loyalty
- Express an interest in helping the employee reach their career goals
- Express openness to making changes that would positively impact the employee's experience at work
1. Don’t assume you need to conduct stay interviews with every single person on the team.
Begin with a handful of long-term, high-performing, high-potential employees and go from there.
2. Schedule a number of stay interviews together, within the space of a couple of weeks.
This will help you easily identify any recurring issues or major opportunities.
3. Schedule your stay interviews shortly after performance reviews.
The period directly after performance reviews is critical for employee retention, so this is a good time to kickstart conversations around employee satisfaction.
The data backs this up - in one survey, 85% of employees said they would consider quitting their jobs if they felt their performance review was unfair (1).
4. Allow enough time for an in-depth chat.
Stay interviews usually last between 30 minutes to 1 hour - we recommend 45 minutes.
5. Don’t be too direct with your questions.
Asking employees whether they’re exploring opportunities with other companies might make them uncomfortable, and asking yes/no questions doesn't always yield useful responses.
6. Stick to a question template.
... like the one we’ve provided here, or create your own based on our longlist of suggested questions. Using research-backed questions will give your conversation direction and help you get the most out of your interviews.
7. Share the agenda in advance.
This gives employees the time to think about their responses. In Frankli, 1:1 meeting participants can contribute responses in advance, make private notes and share notes and documents in advance.
8. Share your intentions for the conversation.
Express an interest in improving employee experience and helping the employee reach their career goals.
9. Show appreciation for the employee’s hard work and loyalty.
Remember, this is a conversation, not an interrogation!
10. Look for trends or patterns across multiple stay interviews.
This will help you plan and prioritise your next steps.
11. Take action.
Stay interviews are only useful if you can follow through with some kind of meaningful change. Make a list of action points and set deadlines for each one.
12. Make stay interviews a regular activity.
Twice a year is a good number to aim for, but you’ll soon find your own rhythm.
1. If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
2. What would make your job more satisfying or fulfilling?
3. What talents or skills do you wish you could use in your role?
4. What's one thing we could change about work for you that would improve your personal life?
5. Is there anything that would tempt you to apply for a role elsewhere?
6. Is there anything that frustrates you or keeps you from doing your best work? What is it?
Note: Use 3 - 6 of the questions below to form the agenda for your stay interviews
1. What do you look forward to when you start work each day?
2. Is there anything you dread about your job?
3. If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
4. What would you like to do more of in your role?
5. What would you like to do less of in your role?
6. What would you like to start doing in your role?
7. What would make your job more satisfying or fulfilling?
8. To what extend do you feel valued and recognised in your role?
9. How do you like to be recognised?
10. What kind of feedback about your performance or recognition would you like that you aren’t currently receiving?
11. To what extent do you have the tools you need to do your job well?
12. To what extent do you feel your goals and expectations are clear?
13. What talents or skills are not currently being used in your role?
14. What talents or skills do you wish you could use in your role?
15. What can I do to best support you to succeed this year?
16. What can I do more or less of as your manager?
17. To what extent do you feel supported to have a healthy work-life balance?
18. What would be helpful to you in balancing your work and home life?
19. What's one thing we could change about work for you that would improve your personal life?
20. Is there anything that is currently motivating you to leave?
21. Is there anything that would tempt you to apply for a role elsewhere?
22. Is there anything that frustrates you or keeps you from doing your best work? What is it?
23. How do you feel about your career development opportunities at (Company X)?
24. What opportunities for self-improvement would you like to have that go beyond your current role?
25. What projects would you like to work on or be more involved in?
26. What are you learning here, and what would you like to learn?
27. To what extent do you feel connected to your teammates?
28. To what extent do you feel connected to the company mission, vision and values?
29. How would you describe the company’s culture?
1. Business News Daily, Employees Are More Likely to Consider Quitting After an Unfair Performance Review.