Every Manager Should be Holding Stay Interviews

Jake Wilder
5 min readMay 3, 2022

Increase Retention without Increasing Pay

iStock/gorodenkoff

Everyone’s quitting their jobs. At least, that’s how it feels if you spend any time reading headlines on the great resignation. In the face of this crisis, every worthwhile manager is trying to do what they can to improve retention.

Yet there’s still a question of how. Managers want to help but often don’t have a strategy to combat increasing attrition.

Exit interviews rarely tell the full story. They show that most people are leaving for higher pay or a promotion. And this may be true. People are getting more compensation at new companies. But it doesn’t explain why they started looking for a new job in the first place.

Exit interviews also occur too late to have an impact. It may help flag problems for others, but often these issues are specific to individuals. By the time HR rolls them up into a company-level trend, it’s too watered-down to be effective.

Without specific, timely results, companies implement broad-based solutions and cover as many bases as possible. The problem is that these generic strategies rarely move the needle on getting people to stay. Instead of leading real change, they offer broad generalizations driven by manager’s previous assumptions. And nothing ever changes.

Exit interviews lead to delayed action and diluted strategies. We need earlier engagement and specific actions. Instead of relying on exit interviews, consider implementing stay interviews.

Stay interviews are simple. You hold an exit interview before people leave or start thinking about leaving. Instead of finding out what’s making them quit, learn what will make them stay. And do it early enough that you can identify problems and fix them while they’re small.

At the end of the day, people want the chance to do high-quality work and contribute to a meaningful purpose, alongside great people. The key to a good stay interview is gaining perspective on whether you’re giving people that opportunity. While there’s no one way, the following are a couple questions that have worked well for me over the years:

Work Engagement Questions

--

--

Jake Wilder

I don’t know where I’m going. But at least I know how to get there.