The Stay Interview

A Manager's Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest

The Stay Interview

Author: Richard P. Finnegan
Pub Date: March 2015
Print Edition: $14.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436493
Page Count: 128
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814436509

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The concept of stay interviews seems way too simple. Is it really possible to improve your team’s engagement, retention, and productivity just by asking employees what you can do to make their jobs better?

The answer is “yes” because stay interviews address the two great crises facing business today simply, cheaply, and where the crises originate.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who voluntarily quit is increasing sharply each year, while Gallup finds that since 2000 employee engagement levels in the United States have hardly budged, and they were dismal to start. Seventy percent of American workers are not engaged by their jobs, and 18 percent are actively disengaged. Only 30 percent are engaged, which means that more than twice as many people are committed to avoiding their work as there are committed to doing it.

To combat these disastrous trends we will soon be spending, according to a third study, $1.5 billion each year on top of the other billions we have already spent. These dollars are poured into well-intentioned initiatives such as Career Day, Employee Appreciation Week, town hall meetings, better newsletters—all the scattershot, impersonal things that corporate imagines will make companies better.

However, when was the last time you heard a really good worker say, “My boss treats me like dirt, but I’m holding on for Employee Appreciation Week. I’ll get a balloon and a hot dog and I’ll be stoked for another year”?

The trouble with these programs is that they are implemented above and around each employee’s direct supervisor, and the data has long been clear and conclusive: The primary reason employees work harder and stay longer is a good relationship with their direct supervisors.

As one-on-one meetings between leaders and both newly hired and continuing employees, stay interviews reinforce good relationships, forge new ones, and help repair those that are strained. On that small foundation great companies are built.

What Are Stay Interviews?

To know what stay interviews are, it is important to note what they are not.

- They are not team meetings or focus groups. They are private, individual meetings with each employee.

- They are not conducted by HR because supervisors are “too busy.” They are conducted by direct supervisors, who must own their talent.

- They are not intended to craft development plans. They aren’t based on the assumption that all employees want to grow. And they don’t prioritize professional growth over schedules, colleagues, input, and other aspects of work. They reveal what is important to the employees and how their desires can be satisfied.

- They are not focused on job performance. They are aimed instead at making employees’ work lives more rewarding and comfortable.

- They are not something faddish to be done occasionally. They are a management priority conducted on a specific schedule with required follow-ups.

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