Organisations are continuously exploring different ways to improve employee retention and employee engagement.

A common tool used by most organisations is an exit interview – where, interviews are conducted when employees are leaving the organisation to obtain useful information to improve employee retention and employee engagement for current employees.

A downside of this is that by the time an exit interview is conducted your organisation is already down by one headcount and you may have lost a valuable employee.

What if there was another tool you could use to gauge similar information before an employee resigns?

This is where an organisation can perform stay interviews – this tool has become increasingly popular in recent times as a way for organisations to retain top talent. An advantage compared to an exit interview is instead of waiting until an employee has one foot out the door, stay interviews help organisations understand what they can do to keep employees happy and engaged resulting in increased retention.

Stay interviews are conversations you have with current employees who are not leaving the organisation or have not announced their intention to leave. The goal of a stay interview is to understand what they like about their role, what they would like to change and what motivates them.

Let’s compare stay and exit inteviews:

Exit Interviews Stay Interviews
Done when an employee is leaving Done when an employee is still employed
Completed by HR Completed by their line managers
Understand why they are leaving Understand what makes them stay
Create change once an employee has left the organisation Create change whilst the employee is still employed with the organisation


Benefits of stay interviews:

  1. Identifies and addresses concerns: Stay interviews allow you to collect information and act on areas that may need improving in your organisation including (but not limited to):
    1. Ineffective processes
    2. Poor management
    3. Lack of internal promotions and growth opportunities
  2. Builds Relationship, trust and loyalty: Conducting Stay interviews allow employees to build trust in the organisation. By addressing their concerns it demonstrates that the organisation cares about their experience and progression which in turn builds loyalty.
  3. Increases Retention: By conducting stay interviews you can understand how to keep employees happy. Actioning and addressing concerns increase the likelihood that they will stay with your business for longer increasing retention.


What to consider when conducting stay interviews?

Stay interviews should be casual and conversational. It should provide a safe space to allow the employee to provide honest feedback and insight

  1. Who should facilitate these conversations? Stay interviews tend to be more successful when guided by the employees immediate supervisor/manager. The employee may feel more comfortable in providing honest responses if they have a strong relationship with the person chosen to conduct the interview.
  2. When should you conduct a stay interviews? To get the most useful information from a stay interview it is important to time it correctly. Ensure you don’t conduct a Stay Interview right after an employee has started. You may consider scheduling a stay interview 5 months from when an employee has commenced however, you should schedule it once an employee is settled into their role and familiar with the organisation.You can aim to conduct a stay interview annually for each employee, but should be treated separately to a performance review. These conversations require planning and privacy, so inform your employee of the purpose and schedule a formal 1-on-1 meeting or call at a convenient time for them.To avoid leaving employee feedback unaddressed for too long, conduct all stay interviews within a few days or weeks of each other. This way, you can promptly act on the data you’ve collected and ensure that employee feedback is addressed in a timely manner.


How to conduct the interview and questions to ask?

To make the most of your stay interview it is essential to finalise the questions you want to ask to obtain the information you would like to receive prior to the interview.

During the interview, it’s important to create an environment where the employee feels comfortable sharing their thoughts openly and candidly. Managers should avoid discussing topics like performance or productivity tips and instead focus on having an engaging conversation with the employee. It should be a two way conversation instead of a rigid interview.

To help employees prepare, you should share the list of questions with the employee ahead of time so they can formulate their thoughts in advance.

Example Questions:

  1. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
  2. What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
  3. What motivates you to come to work every day?
  4. How can the organisation better support you to help you succeed?
  5. Is there any aspect of your job that you would like to change?
  6. What would make you leave the organisation?
  7. What would you appreciate more in your job?


Actions after a stay interview

In order to build trust and improve the confidence between the workforce and the organisation, it is important to take thoughtful action on the feedback provided. This is important to ensure employees feel their concerns are being addressed and that your organisation is responding appropriately.



Stay interviews have proven to be one of the many tools your organisation can implement to effectively retain and engage employees. Keep in mind that a stay interview is only one tool in improving retention and engagement. Listening to your employees is the most effective approach to creating an outstanding employee experience. An organisation should establish a system where employees are able to continuously suggest improvements to make their role better.

Stay interviews are effective in that, you are engaging with your workforce, addressing concerns raised and taking measures based on feedback provided which can build a relationship of trust with your workforce, and increase job satisfaction, which can lead to higher engagement and retention rates.


About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.


The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.