Will They Stay or Will They Go?

SHORT STAY 3You know what’s a hot buzzword lately? Stay interviews. The stay interview is nothing new but it does seem to be gaining traction – at least as a topic for conference sessions and general chit chat amongst business leaders and HR folks; I myself have had 3 very different conversations within the last few weeks.

I reccently shared my thoughts with the folks over at Small Business Trends (go check it out) where we discussed both the purpose and the format of stay interviews and also tossed out some sample questions to ask employees when you’re trying to determine if they intend to hang out with you for a bit longer. Questions like:


  • “What keeps you here?”
  • “What do you like most about your job and work in our organization?”
  • “What motivates you to do your best work, and how can I support you in that?”
  • “What is it about working here that you wouldn’t miss if you went elsewhere?”

Should managers be having these conversations with employees on a regular basis? Of course they should. Do we have to turn everything into a formal HR process? Of course not. The thought of assigning yet another form or checklist to the oversight of the HR overlords makes my eyes twitch.

This resides firmly in the domain of people management…you know…with the managers. Maybe they could gather this information by, oh I don’t know, having actual human conversation with their staff? Amazing! What a novel concept!

I’m a fan of “stay interviews” (although I refuse to call them that); certainly much better than what most of us do now which is saving up these questions to ask Joe Employee when he’s already decided to “exit.”



6 thoughts on “Will They Stay or Will They Go?

  1. Learned this method from one of my worst bosses ever but it works. Thanks for spreading the word Robin.

  2. If you read Robin’s article, make a point to schedule 30 minutes with each of your direct reports. These are so easy to do. Make sure to listen to what your team members have to say and then take action on what you can control. Thanks for the great questions and reminders on the importance of stay interviews, Robin!

  3. These are a great idea and in my opinion should be used when deciding how to acquire and retain new talent e.g. during the Onboarding and Induction process. thanks for sharing …

  4. Great article. I love your thoughts on the “Stay Interview” and completely agree that managers should be having these discussions with their employees regularly. They don’t need to be in a formal setting. Thanks.

  5. Hi Robin – Really enjoyed the article! I can’t help but think that the “Stay Interview” is founded in company culture more than anything else. Like you, I believe that turning a casual conversation into a process dehumanizes and therefore devalues the whole interaction. What happened to taking the time to show employees that we care?

    One question used to measure employee satisfaction is, “someone cares about my personal growth.” Isn’t part of being a manager caring about these things? if a manager doesn’t think about their people, are they really managing? Yes, the article speaks from a company perspective, but if we ever told an employee to schedule a, “Stay Interview,” she’d probably give her two weeks on the spot.

  6. Wow, this an interesting article. Many people only have the experience of annual evaluations where they feel like they’re on trial to be let go every year if they didn’t do everything perfectly. I like the milder approach addressed in this article. However, I think that it’s important for a company to be invested in their employees. Not just in dollars with paychecks and benefits, but an appreciation for them and real intent to value their contribution. Most people will stay where they feel like they are really making a difference and that they are appreciated. In this day and age so many companies lay off their workers that have spent decades working there, only to lose their retirement from the company just months before they are allowed to benefit from it. Employees would be a lot more inclined to give their all for a company that isn’t looking to dump them off at the next stop. I think the Golden Rule is a great one. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. If companies treat their employees with loyalty and appreciation, I believe that employees will be loyal and appreciative too. It’s win-win.

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