How to Retain your Best People: The Stay Interview

Organizational Commitment
Knowledge Center


Tendekai Dzinamarira
Manager, Zimbabwe

How to Retain your Best People: The Stay Interview

What is a Stay Interview?

A Stay Interview is a conversation conducted by a manager (HR manager) with a current employee, in which questions are asked regarding why he/she continues to work for the organization. These interviews can be taken as structured one-on-one discussions between a manager and an employee intended to identify specific actions that can enhance and strengthen employees' engagement, commitment and employee retention.

Stay Interviews are aimed at uncovering the truth about employee perception, employee insecurities and retention issues. They are mainly used to ensure that there is effective communication between managers and employees and to bring out mutual benefits between them and eventually long term organizational success.

Stay interviews can also be considered to be an antidote to Exit Interviews in that they show that employers appreciate the loyalty and contributions of the valued employees whereas exit interviews are usually conducted too late—when the employee has already submitted a resignation letter.

Stay Interview Tools

To accompany the interviews, company can deploy following tools:
  • Stay Interview Guide or Toolkit
    A Stay interview guide or toolkit provides standard guidelines, help information, and examples to facilitate open and candid dialogues around what makes employees stay with the organization and what should be done to improve their engagement.
  • Stay Engagement Surveys
    These are usually online surveys which give instant and anonymous results to management which enables a proactive approach to retain talent. Stay interviews and stay engagement surveys both measure engagement. They have to be combined in order to have the most effective results in engagement and retention.

Benefits of Stay Interviews

  • Benefits to Employees
    1. Assist employees to share what they are passionate about in areas which may include their KRAs, departments and even their work-life balance issues.
    2. Provide employees with an open dialogue with their employers or managers on matters that will reap mutual benefits such as discussions on what is going well and areas that needs support and improvement in order for them to remain loyal and engaged.
    3. Show to employees that they're valued contributors in the organisation thereby boosting their morale.
  • Benefits to Employers
    1. Help employers to have effective communication with their employees in order to uncover all issues that hinder employee engagement and retention.
    2. Improve the retention, job satisfaction and employee engagement that will reduce the cost of hiring and training new employees. Thus resulting in a reduction in employee turnover, increasing employee engagement and production.
    3. Give first hand and immediate staff input about how to increase employee contentment and loyalty.

Examples of Stay Questions

Questions should encompass the work environment, recognition, engagement, development and retention. For example:
1. What makes you stay in the company?
2. What do you like most in your work?
3. What do you expect from the company whenever you come to work?
4. What will prompt you to look for work elsewhere?
5. Do you feel supported in your career development?


In a nutshell, stay interviews could really be an important antidote to exit interviews. They should be done on a regular basis. When preparing and executing the stay interviews, employees should be given the stay questions in advance for them to prepare how to respond candidly. Employers or managers must be present and engaged in the process and ensure that the stay interviews are conducted in a confidential manner and in a comfortable setting. Above all "follow up" is key in all aspects raised in the interviews to ensure all concerns are actually addressed and met.

⇨ What is your view on Stay Interviews? Did you ever perform one? Please share your ideas and tips below.

1. Richard P. Finnegan (2015), "The Stay Interview: A Manager's Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest", Amacom
2. Richard P. Finnegan (2018), "The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention", 2nd Edition, Society for Human Resources Management.
3. Beverly Kaye et al (2019), "Help them Grow or Watch them Go", Illustrated Edition, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.


Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar

Some More Points to Consider Wrt Stay Interviews

A Stay Interview can also explore how to make the employee realize his or her potential. This might ... Sign up


Stay Interview

Thank for sharing this insightful writing. I do agree with the importance of "Stay Interview". I on... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Who Should do the Stay Interview

Thank you for the good synopsis. As you wrote, Stay Interviews could be held by someone from HR. On ... Sign up


Length and Frequency of a Stay Interview

They last approx. 30-60 minutes and are normally held every year or so.... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Why Each Stay Interview MUST be Followed Up

Note the last sentence of the article: "Above all follow up is key in all aspects raised in the int... Sign up

Sidney Tehoda
Career Consultant, Ghana

Stay Interview by Manager

This is a great tool to forestall or manage high labour turn over. Thanks for sharing. However, I th... Sign up

Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

Appraising the Reason to Stay

I'm uncertain as to whether it would be beneficial to add another type of meeting to the diaries of ... Sign up

Helen Strong
Business Consultant, South Africa

Value Measurement of Stay Interviews

It is great that organisations are coming to realise the power of communication. The benefits of und... Sign up


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