Stay interviews, new trend or proven practice?

The years go by, look alike and the challenges of attracting talent remains ; thanks to a scarcity of labor that is not improving. Thus, it is no secret that leaders must capitalize more on their internal retention practices. Precisely, one of the ways to retain your employees is to enrich the opportunities to communicate effectively with them. A new trend, “Stay interviews,” seems to be a practice that meets this need.

What are stay interviews?

Richard P.Finnegan, an HR expert in the field, defines it as an interview, a structured discussion led by the manager with his employee, with the aim of identifying the specific actions to be taken in order to strengthen commitment and retention[1]. Essentially, it’s like an exit interview, but this meeting is with employees who are still active rather than those who have already set foot in the door.

Why stay interviews? How does it work?

First, you should know that this practice must allow your employees to understand:

  • That the company recognizes and appreciates their loyalty & fidelity.
  • That the company cares about them, more than their performance.
  • That the company is open to making changes that would meet their satisfaction.

In addition, this practice will help you, as an employer, to identify:

  • The warning signs that indicate that a key employee need support.
  • The retention criteria for your key employees and your high potentials.
  • Small changes within the scope of the company, which would reaffirm the commitment of employees.

My employer’s practices

On the eve of my departure on maternity leave, my proactive employer did everything possible to promote my retention. For example :

  1. Set up statutory monthly meeting.

The employer greatly favors autonomy in mandates and development in action. Thus, monthly statutory meetings, with one of the partners, have been set up in order to obtain support, advice and experience for this purpose, especially in terms of the art of effectively delegating and transferring mandates.

  1. Advance my evaluation appraisal interview

The deployment of the internal program being subsequent to my departure, I was surprised to have been invited in advance so that I could be evaluated on the past year and project myself for the year to come. This meeting made it possible to clarify my expectations, but also to anticipate my career development plan which will already be a priority upon my return. It was also an opportunity to have constructive discussions, to obtain feedback, to give it and to solidify the feeling of belonging to the firm.


  1. Support me, through our team lead, in drawing up my leave of absence schedule.

Indeed, regular follow-ups have been done to support me in the reflection, in the logistics and in the organization of the transfer of my mandates, so that my departure goes smoothly. These random encounters also served to dispel concerns about the long leave ahead of me and to communicate my personal needs. They were very appreciated.

Best Practices

In general, and according to experts, the most effective stay interviews are carried out by managers, on one-on-one with their resources. Here are some additional best practices to help implement this initiative:

  1. Frequency: of course, whenever you feel your employees seem disengaged for a certain period of time, we strongly recommend that you plan to meet with them. Otherwise, in general, you can schedule these meetings in semesters opposite to the one in which you conduct your performance evaluation program.
  2. Duration: a meeting of 30 minutes is more than enough. It is obviously important to inform your employees in advance, not only for the purpose of the meeting, but also how to prepare for it. Finally, you do not have to meet all your employees, key employees should be the ones often targeted first.
  3. The procedure: if you feel uncomfortable with employees, work on your relationship of trust with them first or consider the anonymous option with a neutral third party. In addition, make sure you have in place means to effectively follow up on the immediate actions to be processed.
  4. Recognition: we strongly recommend that you express your gratitude to employees and specially to recognize that their contribution is greatly appreciated.
  5. Questions to ask we recommend that you be accompanied by your HR advisor or your consultant, in order to develop questions that respect the corporate culture and that will allow you to measure mobilization criteria.
  6. Avoid: including evaluation points or mention the employee’s performance during this meeting. This creates a certain discouragement and can undermine transparency.

An efficient practice or just a new trend?

We obviously wonder if stay interviews are an effective practice that will last over time, or just a trend[2]. Unfortunately, only time will tell, but it is clear that great benefits are to be gained from such a practice, especially if it is carried out with good intentions and rigour. Know that every time an employee is given the opportunity to talk about their experience, engagement and retention tend to increase. This is especially true when action is taken based on the information gathered.

In conclusion, we must note yes, the advantages, but also the challenges that are to be expected in the establishment and conduct of stay interviews. By challenges we mean, for example, facing unpleasant truths and accepting accountability in the processing of requests for working conditions. Thus, it will be even more interesting, in all this preparation, that we think of training managers to lead this kind of meeting, to have difficult conversations and to act accordingly.

So are you tempted by this new trend? When do we begin?

By Noellie Dias, CRHP