Stay interviews – the opposite of exit interviews – are becoming more popular in healthcare and other industries. The purpose of the stay interview is to communicate with current employees to make sure they’re engaged in their work and happy with the institution as a whole. The stay interview provides an opportunity to hear worker concerns and to make adjustments before they move on to another facility – rather than trying to correct after the loss.
Stay interviews can be time-consuming; you may think you don’t have the ability to routinely interview everyone in your facility, but consider the time consumed by recruitment. If your institution conducted ten stay interviews that netted a single retained employee, the cost/benefit ratio might be worth the investment.
A best practice may be to create a schedule and rotation of stay interviews that recruiters, HR professionals, line managers and supervisors conduct on a regular basis. An hour or two a week, to stay interview two to four current employees, may result in a workforce that knows it’s being valued and heard.
Who to stay interview
You may consider creating stay interview procedures that ask your management team to check in with staff on a routine basis, possibly every six months or quarterly. Another option would be to have recruitment and HR professionals conduct the interviews, passing on any actionable recommendations to team leaders.
Another option would be informal stay interviews, with HR interviewing team members from different departments on a regular basis to gauge sentiment on the work and the institution.
A stay interview program, either formal or informal, might start with areas that see the highest turnover. In many institutions there are specific departments that have disproportionate levels of churn. These might be a best area for focus in the early stages of a program. Understanding what’s causing high turnover in these areas, balanced against the cost of recruitment, may be revealing. You may find solutions to current turnover that hedge your bets against future churn.
What to ask
More than an employee check-in or feedback session, stay interviews focus on the things the employees find engaging: the aspects of their work that make them feel the institution is their long-term employer. As importantly, it focuses on the things that tempt workers to look for greener pastures. Armed with that information, you can enhance the high-value, engaging aspect of the work and correct any deficiencies that are driving employees out the door.
When managers conduct stay interviews, they’re better positioned to build on the satisfying aspects a worker reports and to correct any issues or problems that may make the employee consider leaving.
Schedule the meeting with an outline of what will be discussed. Let the employee know you want to meet to find out the reasons they stay with the institution and to discuss any issues that need support or assistance. Structured interviews are a best practice. The manager asks the same questions of every employee, covering all the topics you want to discuss. Here are some sample questions you might want to incorporate:
- What motivates or excites you to come to work every day?
- What do you like most and least about working with us?
- If you could make changes to your job, what would they be?
- Do you feel recognized and appreciated?
- Do you feel you’re able to use all your best skills and talents?
- How can I and/or the institution better support you?
- What makes you want to stay for the short- and long-term with us?
- Are you interested in career growth? How can we support that?
- What might tempt you to leave us?
- If you received another offer, would you give us an opportunity to discuss and possibly counter it?
Act on information gathered
For some managers, the stay interview will reveal information that is immediately actionable. If team members are looking for more responsibility or better work/life balance, the manager can work with the staff member to make changes and accommodate their needs and wants.
For others, consultation with the HR Department or Administrators may be required. If salary, for example, is at issue in high churn departments, consider rethinking your wage scale. No matter who is conducting the interview, acting on concerns is critical to retaining talent. Listening is important, but without follow-up, you’ve wasted everyone’s time.
Some staff members may be hesitant to be candid at stay interviews. For these, trust must be built to assure the employee the interview is to improve working conditions and help retain top talent. An option may be to survey to see if employees would be interested in stay interviews, outlining they are intended to net positive results and forward-thinking changes.
If you decide to put a stay interview program in place managed at the supervisory level, make sure to alert HR of the processes, and place any documentation in the employee’s confidential personnel file. If recruitment or HR professionals are managing the interviews, make sure they’re passing on any relevant information on to supervisors to assure any necessary changes are made.
Stay interviews can boost employee engagement. When staffers know you’re interested in what they have to say and are willing to make changes to assure they’re with you long-term, they feel recognized and heard. Stay interviews can help your facility retain top talent and reduce turnover.