By Paul Phipps

In the modern age, new phrases appear and disappear regularly and that’s especially true within business.  At the beginning of the twenty-first century, ‘staycation’ appeared in the English lexicon and in recent weeks, we have been hearing about a ‘stay interview’.

In the sphere of HR, exit interviews are well known and carried out widely when someone resigns.  The key purpose of the exit interview is to make a counter offer, if the company wants to retain the employee, or to find out where the issues are within the company so that improvement can be made.

The phrase stay interview is relatively new within the business lexicon in the UK and there are HR Managers that we have spoken to that are not familiar with the term.

What is a stay interview?

The intention behind a stay interview is to ascertain why an employee chooses to stay, or indeed, whether there is anything that is causing the employee to consider leaving the firm and looking for a new role.  An exit interview can shed light on this, to some extent – but by then it’s usually too late – it’s like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Conducting regular stay interviews can help a company with staff retention and contentment because when a company knows what it is doing well, it can also work out where it falls short of expectations.  An employee can say why they stay but not to comment positively on certain areas of the business speaks volumes.

How often should stay interviews be conducted?

Stay interviews can be carried out once a year opposite the employees’ annual appraisal.  This way, the management and/or HR has two opportunities each year to have a one-to-one with staff and this can only be a positive thing.

What does the stay interview achieve?

The main advantage of the stay interview is that it helps to express to employees that the company values their opinion regarding how the company is run and that the firm is interested in making changes to make the company a better place to work.  It also lets the employee know that the company appreciates loyalty, going beyond performance.

These interviews are likely to flag up shortcomings and areas where staff need more support and training, and these issues can often be easily, and cost effectively implemented, with huge benefit to the company as a whole.  Above all, stay interviews can help a firm to retain its top performers, which is especially important when the cost of hiring is so high.

An experienced hire carries substantial costs including; agency or advertising fees, time taken for interviews and lost productivity as the new employee ‘beds in’.  According to it can take “… 28 weeks to reach optimum productivity which has an attached cost of £25,181 per employee”.  In the article, quoting a report from Oxford Economics, it suggests that the total cost of hiring a new employee can be as much as £30k.  Obviously, there is a massive variation on this, depending upon the role and salary.

How should an employer conduct a stay interview?

Looking around online, there is a multitude of opinion.  No surprise there.  Questions should be easy to answer and not make the employee feel that they are being probed or that their answers could impact upon them negatively.

The job board Monster has published a list of stay interview questions from Beverly Kaye, author of ‘Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go’  and these questions seem to be a good basis.

Beverly Kaye’s recommended stay interview questions are:

  1. What about your job makes you want to jump out of bed?
  2. What about your job makes you want to hit the snooze button?
  3. What are you passionate about?
  4. What’s your dream job?
  5. If you changed your role completely, what would you miss the most?
  6. If you won the lottery and didn’t have to work, what would you miss?
  7. What did you love in your last position that you’re not doing now?
  8. What makes for a great day at work?
  9. If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about your work, your role and your responsibilities?
  10. What do you think about on your way to work?
  11. What’s bothering you most about your job?

This is one opinion and there are many other sources out there and some links are included in the sources below.

Who should be called for a stay interview?

Some of the articles on this subject put the emphasis on conducting stay interviews with your top performers and whilst this may seem sensible and time efficient, there could be unintended consequences of not including the entire workforce.  If you only interview your top employees, those not interviewed may feel that they are less important to the company and this could have a detrimental effect on morale and cohesion.  The important thing to remember is that a stay interview doesn’t need to be too lengthy and a well thought out set of questions can be answered in as little as fifteen minutes.

Alternatively, in large corporations, where there are a large number of employees, a stay interview could take the form of an employee satisfaction survey.

Who benefits from stay interviews?

In short, everyone potentially benefits.  The company will gain insight in to what it is doing well and where it needs to improve, leading to improved productivity and efficiency.  A stay interview can help employees feel more valued, ‘feel the love’ as it were, and the results should assist the company in making positive changes to the business structure and working environment.  In turn, the company’s clients should receive a better level of service because the employees are more likely to be invested in the what the company does and subsequently, conduct the company’s business with increased enthusiasm and aplomb.

Acting on the results

For the employer, it is important to take a considered view on the results and act in a measured way, being mindful of making promises that may transpire to be unachievable.   If certain changes are promised and then not implemented, the whole process will seem shallow to employees so it’s advisable to take time to formulate an achievable action plan and implement any remedial measures in an unrushed manner.


Should I Stay or Should I Go – The Clash

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