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Group of two men and one woman talking in a huddle

HR professionals are dealing with some pretty big challenges, especially employee retention and engagement. After years of remote work, layoffs, and “quiet quitting,” HR teams report high levels of employee burnout and low levels of engagement, all which all of which leads to higher rates of employee attrition and turnover.

According to a SurveyMoney study, only one in three (32%) HR pros say their company has been ‘very successful’ at addressing turnover. And the reasons are varied—35% of HR pros say employee attrition is caused by compensation and benefits, 29% burnout, 29% lack of flexible work arrangements, and 27% say poor work-life balance. With such a diverse list, how can HR teams know where to put their efforts?

Many companies believe they are collecting feedback, but doing it right and at the right time is key to putting feedback into action. Waiting to ask employees for their thoughts during a review or exit interview is sometimes too little too late.

Stay interviews have gained popularity as a way to help HR professionals improve employee retention and employee engagement. With stay interviews, employees have the opportunity to share what they value about their job, their company, and what they think can be improved.

The most important goal of a stay interview is for HR to gain an understanding of what motivates and engages employees and will improve retention. With the right format and questions, HR teams can get candid, actionable feedback to understand how the company is doing, and where you can improve.

Asking the right questions during a stay interview is critical to getting the kind of feedback that can lead to improvements in a team, department, or an organization. 

Pulse survey box

Stay interview questions can be asked before in-person meetings, via a stay interview survey. A survey gives employees a sense of safety that their feedback can be anonymous, and they can give feedback that they might not want to say in person. Stay interview surveys can help managers and HR teams prepare for a more constructive in-person conversation with an employee.

In addition, by using a survey to collect feedback, HR teams can understand overall sentiment and pinpoint common areas where employees might be struggling or where job satisfaction is high. These higher level insights can help you identify problems that are personal, and those that are systemic, and come up with solutions that will be more effective.

Starting a meeting with survey findings can also be an icebreaker for employees that may not realize they are experiencing similar issues to their coworkers. Closing the interview by confirming next steps and setting expectations for change is also a critical part of a successful stay interview.

Asking the right questions for a stay interview can be challenging—you want to engage employees quickly and make sure that you give them an opportunity to talk about the specifics of their unique situation. 

For that reason, a combination of open ended questions and ranking questions is recommended. You should include questions with a comment box, where people can write what they want. In this way, you’ll get more than standard answers; you’ll gather ideas directly from employees about what you can do to retain them. 

For example, a great first question is:

This is a positive angle that people probably would enjoy thinking about and responding to, so it’s a great starting point. You could follow up with:

Asking this question in a survey might give you a more candid response than if you asked an employee in person. You will also likely get a response that is honest and thoughtful, instead of something that’s top of mind or watered down.

Another question could be about a person’s specific skill set, such as:

While some reviews cover career direction or development, this kind of question is more open ended, and allows the employee to reflect on what they would like to be doing, or do more of.

A Likert scale question will give you a standardized score that you can compare across teams and departments. 

  • Extremely supported
  • Very supported
  • Somewhat supported
  • Not so supported
  • Not at all supported

If there’s a cluster of employees that don’t feel supported, that could indicate and area of special focus.

A SurveyMonkey CNBC study offers valuable insights on what employees care about. According to our study, 33% of US workers said that feeling that their work is meaningful was the most important factor in job satisfaction, above compensation, which was a distant second at 23%.

That’s where stay interviews can help. Instead of guessing that people will stay for more money, HR teams can find out more about what employees really value. Asking these question in a survey format can complement the in-person stay interviews. 

Anonymity settings can be useful for this kind of feedback. Make sure that the survey platform you choose can collect feedback that stays private and anonymous. Using the trusted SurveyMonkey brand can help your employees feel comfortable letting you know what’s on their minds. 

As far as timing, stay interview surveys can be send to teams every 3 to 6 months so you’re collecting up to the minute feedback that reflects what your employees are feeling on topics like job satisfaction and burnout. Even HR teams with little survey experience can easily create surveys and collect feedback, using pre-built templates and question banks. Act on that feedback with built-in analytics—no advanced training or data analytics background required.

Try adding a stay interview survey to your regularly scheduled employee feedback. Explore our free employee survey templates.

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