Leverage Stay Interviews to Prevent Quiet Quitting & Improve Employee Engagement


Robin Imbrogno

on Jun 9, 2023 5:48:02 PM

Quiet quitting continues to be one of the biggest concerns for employers today. This popular term refers to employees who only put in the minimum amount of effort required for their job. This behavior suggests that the employee is no longer fully engaged in their work. While some mistake this for an attempt to achieve a better work-life balance, employers view it as a negative outcome considering it can be more detrimental to the company than if the employee were to leave altogether. 

Gallup has found that more than 50% of the U.S. workforce is made up of quiet quitters. In today’s economy and talent market, companies cannot afford to have employees that are not utilizing their full potential.

So, what can employers do to prevent quiet quitting and improve employee engagement? One easy, inexpensive, and effective tool is the stay interview.

What is a Stay Interview?

A stay interview is a valuable tool in the arsenal of any employer who wants to keep their workforce happy and engaged. It is a one-on-one discussion between an employee and a representative from the company, either a top-level manager, HR, or a 3rd party HR services provider - whichever approach is most conducive to encouraging employees to express their thoughts candidly.

Stay interviews are designed to explore the employee’s level of job satisfaction, identify any areas of dissatisfaction, and find ways to address any concerns. This type of interview is typically conducted in a comfortable and relaxed setting, such as the employee's office or a conference room.

How to Conduct Stay Interviews

Stay interviews should be conducted with regularity, about every 12 to 24 months.. To make it easier, companies can choose to conduct them on the anniversary of the employee's hire date or 6 months after performance reviews.

Stay interviews should last 30 minutes and should not be formal or intimidating. Instead, create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. For the person conducting the interview, coming out from behind your desk can help employees open up. Using a common space, like a conference room or huddle room, can remove the formality caused by an office setting. When selecting a venue, it is crucial to ensure that it is sufficiently soundproof to maintain confidentiality.

Although the stay interview should be conducted in a casual tone, it is important to maintain structure to prevent managers from asking inappropriate, discriminatory, or overly personal questions. It is crucial to ask the same questions to every employee in a comparable role. While it may be necessary to inquire about specifics depending on the job, general questions should remain consistent for all employees.

What Questions to Ask

Some questions to get you started:

  • What do you look forward to when coming to work?
  • What do you like the most about working here?
  • Are there any aspects of working here that you dislike?
  • What is the one thing you would change about your role?
  • Do you have any skills or talents that you feel are underutilized?
  • What motivates you to perform your best?
  • In what type of work environment do you tend to perform at your best?
  • How can I and the organization better support you?
  • What are some skills you want to acquire in the future?
  • How do you prefer to be recognized for your hard work?
  • What could potentially cause you to consider leaving your position?
Remember that when conducting a stay interview, the goal is to gather feedback from employees. Refrain from taking disciplinary action based on any comments made during the interview, or it may undermine the effectiveness of the process.

Why Employees Might Leave 

Trigger factors for employees leaving are varied. Some are beyond your control, such as the need to relocate or needing to care for a sick family member. However, some reasons are entirely within your control. This can include the following:

  • Not getting along with their manager or working well within the management style.
  • Feeling unheard and or disrespected.
  • Low pay - In 2021, 63% of employees left their job due to low pay.
  • Poor benefits.
  • Lack of agency, that is feeling as if they can't make an impact or achieve anything within their job.
  • Lack of opportunities to advance, real or perceived.
  • Lack of flexibility.
By identifying potential issues that may be affecting an employee early on, businesses can proactively address their concerns before they escalate.

What Outcomes to Expect

Before conducting the stay interviews, companies should be aware of the following outcomes they can expect:

  • The Disengaged Employee - There will be employees who are not fully engaged due to unfixable issues. For these employees, companies should reconsider their employment and get prepared for more formal actions, such as performance improvement plans or potential termination. During the stay interview, companies can ask these employees if they are currently seeking or interviewing for other roles they desire.
  • The Challenged Employee - More often, employees will express a desire to be more engaged, and face challenges and obstacles preventing them from reaching their full potential. For these employees, stay interviews can be highly valuable. By identifying what challenges and obstacles they are facing, companies can create a supportive environment that facilitates growth and removes barriers. Developing tailored plans, providing necessary resources, and offering mentorship can enable these employees to overcome challenges, resulting in enhanced engagement, improved performance, and increased job satisfaction.
  • The Top Performer - These high-performing individuals significantly contribute to the organization's success, and their departure would have a substantial impact. It’s important to recognize the importance of retaining top performers, organizations should go above and beyond to meet their needs and ensure their continued satisfaction. Stay interviews present an opportunity to understand their aspirations, career goals, and personal development needs. By investing in their growth, providing advancement opportunities within the company, and acknowledging their valuable contributions, organizations can nurture a culture of loyalty and commitment. This proactive approach reinforces their engagement, leading to long-term retention and cost savings associated with replacing such employees.

Create A Stay Plan

Stay plans are essential for organizations to address the concerns and needs of employees identified during stay interviews.

  • Minor Adjustments - Stay plans can be minor in some cases. For instance, providing additional recognition and rewards programs. Or minor and specific, like accommodating a medically ordered caffeine-free diet by providing decaf options in the break room.
  • Assigning a Mentor - This option can provide valuable support, guidance, and professional development opportunities to top performers. Mentors can be experienced employees within the organization who can offer insights, share knowledge, and help mentees navigate their careers.
  • Training and Development - Employees often desire opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge. Stay plans can involve adjusting training programs or providing additional resources to help employees acquire the expertise they seek.
  • Career Pathing - Working with employees to create a clear career path within the organization can be a powerful incentive for them to stay. This involves mapping out potential advancement opportunities, identifying the skills and experiences needed to reach the next level, and providing guidance and support to help employees progress in their careers.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements - If you can offer flexible work arrangements – do it! Especially if you are unable to meet an employee's compensation needs, offering flexible work arrangements can be an effective alternative.
  • Wellness Programs - If you’re hearing complaints about stress, lack of motivation, unfulfillment, etc. it may be effective to implement a wellness program. These programs can include initiatives such as gym memberships, mental health resources, mindfulness workshops, or wellness challenges that promote physical and mental health. 

Final Thoughts

In today’s dynamic economy and highly competitive talent market, companies must prioritize retaining top talent and optimizing their existing workforce to enhance employee engagement and productivity, ultimately driving high performance across the organization. Stay interviews are one of the most effective and low-cost ways to accomplish this. Follow this comprehensive guide to implement stay interviews within your organization. If you don’t have the time or expertise, consider consulting with an HR service provider to help facilitate the process and maximize its benefits. 

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Author: Robin Imbrogno

Robin ImbrognoRobin Imbrogno is the founder of The Human Resource Consulting Group. Robin is a recognized leader in the business community as a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), The American Payroll Association (APA), The Independent Payroll Providers Association (IPPA), The Payroll Group (TPG) as Secretary on the Board of Directors, and a former recipient of the Association for Women in Communications award (WIC).

Topics:Connecticut HRStay InterviewsQuiet QuittingEmployee Engagement

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