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What To Consider When Designing A Stay Interview Strategy

September 4, 2015


September 4, 2015

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Our first stay interview post was such a success, we want to follow up and answer some questions our readers had.  Enjoy.

The stay interview is one of the most effective strategies for reducing employee turnover. Both anecdotal and research evidence indicates that stay interviews increase job satisfaction, employee engagement and organisational commitment. This ultimately reduces the likelihood of employees leaving.

The only challenge with stay interviews is in implementation. There are numerous guides which give detailed steps on how to conduct the actual interviews. However, there are certain aspects which are often left untackled e.g. when to conduct the interviews, on whom to conduct them, etc.

This makes it difficult for some organisations to enjoy the full benefits of interviews. This article will explore some of the key components of stay interviews. Basically, when designing a stay interview strategy, what should be considered? Below are the main considerations:


The question which HRs often ask is “how often should we conduct stay interviews?” Well, there is a straightforward answer to this question. However, to make the interviews most effective, there are three kinds of schedules to consider.

Recurrent – this answers the “how often” question. It is advisable to conduct stay interviews at least once every year. The “year” in this sense refers to the financial year as defined within the organisation. Scheduling the interviews annually can enable an organisation to keep abreast with the factors which make employees to remain.

Milestones – there are certain milestones which are important to both employees and employers. For instance, important milestones for employees can be completing one year, two years, five years, on the job. For an employer, let’s assume the average turnover for a position is 3 years. Any employee who lasts 3 years has achieved a milestone. Scheduling stay interviews to mark certain milestones can help in understanding why an employee has managed to surpass it.

Specific occurrences – there are certain events which point to an employee’s loyalty towards an organisation. For instance, if the organisation undergoes turbulent times in which some employees quit, those who remain must have a form of loyalty. Similarly, if an employee resists an attempt by a competitor to lure them away, that is a sign of loyalty. Conducting a stay interview after such occurrences can be highly productive.

Who to Interview

In an ideal world, it would be advisable to carry out stay interviews on all employees. Unfortunately, except for organisations with very few employees, this isn’t feasible. Limitations on time and resources means that choices have to be made on which employees the stay interviews should be conducted.

Making such a choice isn’t straightforward. This is because different organisations view their employees differently. Even then, there are three categories of employees who should undergo stay interviews:

Star Performers – if an organisation as star performers, then they must be included in the stay interviews. The reason for this is simple – the cost of losing star performers can be enormous. The stay interview can play an important role in retaining them. The interview can also enable you to identify factors which may make it easier to attract other star performers.

At-Risk Employees – if there are employees who are at risk of leaving, then they must participate in stay interviews. Sometimes, there are tell-tale signs which can show that an employee is considering leaving. If the employee is highly valued, then a stay interview can come in handy. It can help to unearth factors which may be driving them away, and thus play a critical role in convincing them to stay.

New employees – when a new employee hits a milestone (e.g. marks one year on the job), they need to be given a stay interview. Such an interview can be critical in assessing the organization’s working environment from the perspective of a new person. It can also play a critical role in convincing the employee to remain in the organisation for much longer.

Collecting And Using Information

The stay interview isn’t supposed to be just another event on the HR calendar. It is meant to be a serious inquiry which reveals actionable information. To produce such info, there needs to be a systematic approach to information gathering, sharing and usage.

Information Gathering – there are two critical bits of information which a stay interview should stay. The first is why the employee has remained with the organisation. The second is what improvements they would like to see. Perhaps, a third is what factors would make them to consider leaving.

The focus should be on gathering concrete information, not vague or generic information. This means that the interviewer needs to be tactful in probing and asking for clarifications. Tact is the keyword here, because the interview shouldn’t become an interrogation.

Analysis – gathering the information isn’t enough. The information needs to be analyzed. The purpose of analysis is to identify recurrent themes and ideas across various interviews. The ultimate goal is to identify action points which can be implemented in order to improve the organization’s working environment.

Information Sharing – the information collected as well as the results of analysis need to be shared with relevant people. “Relevant” can vary depending on the organisation. However, in most cases, it can include top management, human resources personnel and supervisors. Ultimately, the nature and amount of info shared should be in line with a person’s involvement in implementing any action points which result from the interview.

Taking Action – a well conducted stay interview will produce actionable information. An effective analysis will produce action points. The action points then have to be executed. Unless a stay interview results in concrete action, then it serves little to no purpose.

In a nutshell, those are a few of the things to consider when designing a stay interview strategy. The one aspect which hasn’t been mentioned is how to conduct the actual interview. There are several guides for conducting stay interviews which offer tips on how to ask questions, probing, recording responses, etc.

The bottom line is that for a stay interview to be beneficial, every aspect of it needs to be carefully thought about. The above tips outline some of the key things to think about when creating a stay interview strategy. Therefore, in case you desire to tap the power of stay interviews in order to reduce turnover within your organisation, you now know where to begin. Best wishes!

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