Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Stay Interviews are a great and budget-friendly tool managers can use to gauge employee satisfaction, company culture, and shared thinking on improving and growing the organization.


Executives have two roles; 1) creating value and 2) motivating talent. Value creation requires combining resources and capabilities to sustain competitive advantage in the marketplace. Motivating talent requires leveraging human capital through effective management so resources can achieve their highest productivity. Companies that have struggled to survive through the COVID pandemic now face an even more significant challenge, the “Great Resignation,” which has dramatically altered what an employer must do to motivate and retain talent.

A recent survey found more than half of working Americans will be looking for a new job in the next 12 months. Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey found that 55% are likely to do so. Another 28% said they’re not actively looking for a job but still expect to move companies in the next year. As a result, businesses are looking for creative ways to replace workers that have left their workplace.

Keeping the current workforce is critical to minimizing the challenges of hiring today. Businesses now use signing bonuses and dramatically higher wages to help attract new workers. As retention efforts escalate, intelligent employers are instituting something new; “stay interviews .”A Stay Interview is the opposite of an Exit Interview: Instead of asking why an employee is quitting, a stay interview focuses on what motivates the employee to stay employed, what could be better about their work experience, and how they envision the next stage of their career within the organization.

Stay Interviews are a great and budget-friendly tool managers can use to gauge employee satisfaction, company culture, and shared thinking on improving and growing the organization. Managers who conduct stay interviews can retain top talent, engage their employees, and lower employee attrition in ways that others cannot.

A Stay Interview is a structured discussion a leader conducts with an individual employee to learn specific actions the leader can take to strengthen the employee’s engagement and retention with the organization. Managers are best suited to perform the stay interview since they have a more profound knowledge of the challenges employees face daily and potentially more power to make necessary changes. Stay Interviews can boost morale and workplace engagement by signaling to the employee that you are interested in their perspective on the job and the company and willing to make adjustments if necessary to keep them and keep them happy.

Some guidelines to follow as you plan for your Stay Interviews.

These interviews should be held privately with preplanned questions to keep the conversations productive and on track. Notify the employees that you will be conducting “stay interviews” with the workforce to uncover what makes them happy at work and what can be changed if needed.
There are many good interview questions that you can use for these conversations. The best questions to get the employee to share rich and detailed ideas are open-ended. These are some examples that the Society for Human Resource Management recommends:

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
  • What do you like most or least about working here?
  • What keeps you working at this company?
  • If you could change any one part of your job, what would that be?
  • What would make your job and overall work experience more satisfying?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work?
  • What talents do you have that are not being used in your current role?
  • What would you like to learn more about, within or outside of your current role?
  • What motivates (or demotivates) you?
  • What can I do to best support you as your manager?
  • What can I do more of or less of as your manager?
  • How would you describe our company culture to a brand-new employee?
  • What might tempt you to leave?

Once the interviews are complete, the next step will be acting on the information received. If employees have provided honest, legitimate concerns, take steps to correct them.

Whatever insights you gather will be useless unless you are determined to act on them. After analyzing the findings of your Stay Interviews, one must reinforce what works, change what doesn’t, and assess how your efforts are working out. Importantly, you don’t need to do everything people tell you but prioritize the requests from those you deem more valuable.

So, are you ready to get to those Stay Interviews with your employees?