Seven Reasons to Implement Stay Interviews in Your Organization

Seven Reasons to Implement Stay Interviews in Your Organization

By Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP
May 18, 2023

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,” wrote Richard Finnegan in The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention, Second Edition (SHRM, 2018). The organization derives value from a stay interview by hearing directly from the employee in a one-on-one discussion—not related to performance—about issues, concerns and opportunities for leadership improvement.

Stay interviews give leaders the opportunity to engage and communicate with their workers, and they are an effective way for employees to hear directly from their supervisor that they care and want them to stay and grow with the company, according to Finnegan. Through these discussions, supervisors take responsibility for their employees’ retention and engagement. Employees, in turn, are more likely to work hard to stay with the organization, and trust grows between the worker and manager.

I have used stay interviews effectively in my work. Here are some thoughts on implementing them:

1. Start at the top. The leader at the top of the organization should set the tone and conduct stay interviews with their direct reports. The process should cascade down throughout the rest of the organization to front-line supervisors and employees. Employees at every level should take part in a stay interview to ensure an effective and successful process.
2. Talk in person. Stay interviews should not be conducted over the phone or via a video conferencing system, if possible. Remote workers should have the opportunity to sit one-on-one with their supervisor and have a discussion.
3. Set expectations. Ensure the employee understands the reason for the stay interview and how these interviews will focus on areas that the manager can influence. Not all of us can change company policy, mission statements and strategic goals. However, if a trend in these interviews is consistent, then managers can communicate that to leadership.
4. Schedule sufficient time. “Most stay interviews take 20 minutes or less to conduct, but some will carry on longer. Leaders should consider telling employees to allow 20 minutes for their meeting, but even then, leaders should allow 30 minutes on their calendars,” Finnegan wrote. Treat the employee as you want to be treated during the stay interview.
5. Leave performance out of it. There is a time and place to discuss performance expectations. Stay interviews should remain focused on engagement, retention feedback, communication and concerns. Scripted, open-ended questions are necessary to keep the dialogue going.
6. Don’t offer questions in advance. This can limit the conversation to a list of memorized demands and responses. Taking notes, listening and probing for additional information while the employee gives impromptu answers will add tremendous value to the stay interview.
7. Stick to the script: The pre-drafted script is a great way to open the meeting. This will provide additional information to the employee on what the process will look like and the direction of the interview. The messages will be consistent throughout the organization. An example follows.

Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP, is owner of Burr Consulting LLC in Elmira, N.Y., and McKinney, Texas; a co-owner of Labor Love LLC; an HR consultant; an adjunct professor; and an on-call mediator and fact finder for the New York State Public Employment Relations Board.


For a Stay Interview Template and Example Questions, read the full article here –


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