The rise of the 'stay interview': How to use them to your advantage

‘I told them I wasn’t happy and they ended up giving me more money to stay,’ a friend tells me one night over dinner.

The work landscape is changing.

First, people were put into hybrid working patterns for the first time, then later many were contemplating their futures.

It is in part what has led to the Great Resignation, a period in which more people are handing in their notice and looking for more fulfilling work, as the pandemic has caused people to question their wants and needs more closely.

One trend that’s arising as a result of increased quitting is the ‘stay interview’.

The idea being that it will encourage staff who are on the fence to stay in their jobs, perhaps after some renegotiation of the terms, specification, or pay.

What is a stay interview?

Claire Brown, a career coach, says: ‘A stay interview is a valuable retention tool and in format is much like the more commonly known exit interview.

‘However, it provides companies and organisations with the opportunity to address any challenges or concerns at an earlier stage before the employee reaches the conclusion to hand in their notice and to leave their role.

‘While the exit interview may provide important learning for future practice, it is often deemed “too little too late” to retain that particular staff member.

‘You might like to think of the stay interview as the pro-active preventative measure to avoid and correct recurring problems whilst the exit interview is the more reactive approach to learn from mistakes already made.’

It provides a more in-depth and personalised approach to things such as satisfaction surveys, allowing employers to discover what would motivate an employee to stay put.

In openminded working contexts, Claire says it’s about ‘collaboratively exploring opportunities for making necessary improvements.’

‘This also promotes effective relationship and rapport building between managers and employees,’ she adds.

While the goal is to make things better for the individual in the interview, it can highlight things that need to change for any new joiners.

How should you prepare for a stay interview?

The need for companies to retain key staff members is more important than ever, Claire believes.

So, if you really are thinking about leaving, you might as well see if there’s the opportunity to change anything about your current role in the form of a stay interview.

Claire says: ‘Harness this opportunity to be as honest as possible so that you can affect positive change for yourself and your colleagues.’

She advises you figure out the following before going in:

  • Identify in advance what you most want to get out of the process.
  • Decide what the key points are that you want to get across to your manager.
  • Reflect on your non-negotiables and clearly identify what are preferences and what are the ‘game-changers’.
  • Consult with peers who may have already been through the process to share their experiences so you can thoughtfully prepare your responses.
  • Pick your battles with grievances and focus on the most pressing issues.
  • Consider what you already know about the person conducting the interview, such as their communication style and preferences, so that this can inform the way in which you approach the conversation.

‘Think about how best to vocalise any issues that may be contentious or potentially divisive, so these can be heard, understood and received in the best way possible to elicit action.

‘Be as specific as possible and come ready with examples that highlight and evidence your points,’ Claire says.

If pay is on your list of issues, it’s best to come with a list of examples ready that demonstrate how you have added value to the organisation and contributed to growing their profits.

‘You might also look at similar roles in the same sector to identify if there’s a discrepancy between your current salary and what others in the field are being paid,’ she adds.

In order for a stay interview to be worthwhile, you need to have some small changes in mind that would make the work seem more appealing to you, such as a new responsibility.

If you feel you need lots to change in order to be satisfied, it might be time to move on elsewhere.

‘Figuring this out will enable you to enter the conversation with realistic and clear expectations of what you’re asking for and what is possible,’ Claire says.

She believes now is a great time to be willing to have these types of conversations, as there’s greater openness to exploring career change possibilities.

‘Retaining high-performers is a big priority for many organisations and the use of tools such as the “stay interview” will continue to play a part in their retention strategy.’

Happy negotiating.

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