What can employers expect now that the U.S. continues to open after surviving the pandemic’s multiple waves? Why is the importance of the stay interview more important now than ever?

These are great questions. Are you asking them to head off unfortunate events?

Why the stay interview is so important.

One event that’s sure to happen is a surge in turnover.  Employers and organizations need more staff – not less.

Research findings from Eagle Hill Consulting reveal that 25% of current employees plan to leave their jobs.   This number goes up for parents with children who go to school remotely.  Its tremendous pressure for parents (who are most likely maxed out and exhausted from the daily grind).   Further, if there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s to think out of the box.  New job positions and income-earning opportunities have sprouted since the lockdown.   And this trend is most likely to continue in the years to come.

So, how can you improve employee retention?

Answer: Conduct stay interviews.

A “stay interview” is the process of finding out what your employees like about your organization and why they keep working for you.  Its traditionally carried out on highly valued employees who are at risk for leaving.  It’s a great tool for identifying problems (or triggers) that could cause people to jump ship and solving these issues before it’s too late.

The cost of replacing an employee is between 50% to 90% of the position’s annual salary.  For top talent, the cost could hit 200%.  Awfully expensive.  This is why HR tries its level best to retain star team members.  But often we find that the research is done via exit interviews or employee surveys.

This isn’t to say that the exit interview or job satisfaction gauge is unsuitable.  They’re great approaches but aren’t the best for improving retention.   For one, exit interviews don’t come early enough.  Surveys, on the other hand, can get impersonal and distant.

The stay interview is the most effective strategy.

What is it so effective? First, it’s proactive.  Exit interviews unearth an employee’s reasons for leaving after they’ve decided to leave.  In the stay interview, information  gathered can be used immediately to intervene and convince people to stay.

Second, stay interviews are personal.  Its conducted privately, one-on-one.  It can uncover specific insights that apply to the particular employee.  This one-on-one approach alone can make anyone feel valued (and can even up the chances of them remaining within the company).

But for a stay interview to be successful, it has to be carried out correctly.

A good stay interview unearths ACTIONABLE information that can be used for decision-making.  Here’s what to keep in mind:


A one-on-one interview is unnerving.  Many employees aren’t comfortable being candid with the bosses.  Manage this from the get-go by using a conversational tone.  It should feel more like a chat, not a panel interview or oral defense.


Listening to respond is a common pitfall.  Listen actively to understand.  The goal is to get to the heart of an employee’s feelings and thoughts.  A good gauge is for the interviewer to do more of the listening, 80-20.  The employee speaks 80% of the time, while the interviewer does so only to probe and draw more information.


Stay interviews can reveal unexpected information.  It may also elicit critical views of management decisions and company culture.  The interviewer must, at all times, remain calm and impartial, never defensive.

Some questions you may ask include:

  • What do you like most / least about working here?
  • What do you look forward to when you come to work every day?
  • If you could change one (or two) things about your job, what would that be?
  • What would make your job/task more satisfying?
  • Do you feel that you are recognized for your achievements?
  • What skills/talents do you feel aren’t being used in your current role?
  • What would you like to learn?
  • If you were given the opportunity to choose training topics, what would you pick?
  • What motivates / discourages / frustrates you?
  • What can your manager do more or less of?
  • What might make you decide to leave?

Followup to the stay interview.

Remember to thank your interviewee.  Tell them that you appreciate their generosity and honesty and that you are committed to doing what you can to make the office a great place to work.

Once you have the information needed, act on it. You will most likely realize that decisions have to be made based on the data gathered.  If no action is taken, then the stay interview is futile.

It goes without saying that interview practices such as confidentiality, courtesy, and privacy must be observed.  Beforehand, HR must implement an interview protocol that includes questions to be asked, probing techniques, as well as retention actions that they can commit to at their level.

When should you hold stay interviews?

Prudence dictates that the best time is anytime.  Once or twice a year. Keeping tabs on sentiments and issues throughout is crucial to employee engagement.  But the optimal time to conduct stay interviews isn’t when things are all rosy.  It’s when times are tough.

Stay interviews shouldn’t be conducted with every employee either.  The conversation is reserved for team members or employees who are highly valued in the organization. If you’re in search of an effective way to make sure your star employees stay, schedule that stay interview right away.  It’s effective, simple, and costs nothing.

If you’ve staged your stay interview and want to take your retention efforts to the next level, Talk to us.

Care to dig deeper into the stay interview”?

The following resources lend additional insight into this conversation:

Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

About TIGERS Success Series, Inc.

TIGERS provides a comprehensive, multi-pronged and robust system for improving your collaborative workforce behavior, collaborative work culture, profitability, project management and team leadership success. We license existing coaches, consultants and HR professionals in the use of these tools.

We specialize in building cooperation among employees and collaboration between departments for profitable, agile, and high performance team outcomes.  Scaled to  grow as your organization and leadership performance improves, our proprietary TIGERS Workforce Behavior Profile, Micro-Training technology and group facilitation methods result in your high performance team outcomes and change management success.

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