In today’s tight labor market, it is crucial to uncover retention tools that can help prevent the loss of valued employees. When they leave, we lose their talent and contributions, and face with staggering hiring and training costs to replace them. Leaders in the environmental services industry can and should use what I call “stay interviews” to identify potential issues that may cause an employee to leave.

What is a Stay Interview?

A stay interview is a one-on-one conversation between a manager and an employee about what the employee finds positive and motivating about his or her job — but also about the areas they find frustrating. It provides an excellent forum for employees to share concerns or problems, and it gives managers the opportunity to listen and take action on those issues.

As you can imagine, these conversations require a lot of trust — but luckily, even just providing the opportunity for discussion builds that kind of trust. While the manager should guide conversations, they should rely heavily on the employee’s willingness to open up. Careful listening and respect is important in order to continue that dialogue long term.

Who Should You Interview?

When creating a stay interview strategy, you may choose to interview all your employees or a select group. If you have a large group to interview, you’ll want to first focus on employees who do well on performance reviews — those considered key contributors.

If you have a large group to interview, you’ll want to first focus on employees who do well on performance reviews — those considered key contributors.

In some cases, you might consider an employee to currently be an average performer, but with very high potential. A stay interview could be the perfect tactic to help them rise to the occasion!

What Should You Ask?

During a stay interview ask open-ended questions intended to drive conversation, not elicit specific responses. You’ll want to be prepared with possible follow-up questions, depending on the type of information the employee shares. You also shouldn’t be afraid to ask the employee what they feel you can do to address concerns or problems. This shows your willingness to act on their feedback and helps facilitate trust.

Here are some good examples of potential stay interview questions:

  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • When was the last time you considered leaving the organization and what made you consider this?
  • What are some things I can do to make your work experience more positive?
  • If you could change anything about your job, the team or the company, what would that be and why?
  • What things can I do to make our manager-employee relationship more productive?
  • What are your short- and long-term career goals, and how can I help you or mentor you to achieve those goals?
  • What are the most challenging and exciting aspects of your job?
  • What other actions could I take to help ensure you are fully utilizing your talents and interests as part of your job?

Remember that the questions you ask during a stay interview don’t need to be scripted. The main goal is to ensure your employee feels comfortable enough to share concerns, and will come to you if they ever desire to seek employment elsewhere.

The costs associated with turnover are astronomical, so the ability to identify issues within your workforce before employees leave is critical. Stay interviews are a useful retention tool for any organization.