The importance of stay interviews when growing your business

With retention a pressing issue for employers, many are asking the question: How can I get my employees to stay?

There’s no guaranteed way of keeping all your staff from leaving your business, but you can mitigate the risks. One way of doing this is by conducting a stay interview.

Exit interviews are commonplace in many Irish workplaces, they’re used to determine what prompted an employee to leave and to provide a final chance to persuade them to stay. But the efficacy of its information is dwindled by the person’s impending departure. At this stage, it’s often too late to solve problems and retain valuable employees.

Offers to increase salary or enhance benefits are often viewed as being too little too late. This is more prominent in situations where an employee leaves due to concerns over the company culture or internal management. Therefore, a stay interview gives your business the opportunity to assess what improvements can be made now, to avoid further resignations

Questions to ask at an interview

Stay interviews allow you to address your employees’ concerns and resolve any issues before they become leaving factors. If you want to conduct a stay interview, it’s best to do so face-to-face, one-on-one.

Then again, some employees may not feel fully comfortable sharing their concerns with you in such an environment, and a form, or employee satisfaction questionnaire, they can fill out can also be useful.

In essence, the form can be viewed as a reverse performance review. Rather than telling them what you think of them, the form tells them what you think of them.

Why should I conduct a stay interview?

A stay interview gives you the opportunity to assess what improvements can be made now to avoid further resignations. They provide a more personal platform than what is currently in place from engagement or satisfaction surveys.

In turn, this allows for the building of trust between employees and employers. Both parties can collaboratively discuss ideas, with an opportune environment to ask follow-up questions or elaborate on answers. This two-way dynamic is essential in getting to the root of problems and evaluating key issues and trends that warrant internal changes.

Of course, if you want to identify the predominant issues, it’s important that you ask the right questions.

What stay interview questions should I ask?

Key questions to cover in the meeting vary. For instance, what do employees look forward to and what do they dread about work each day? Would recommend the business to others? What would tempt them to leave? What would make their role more satisfying? What does their dream job look like? What talents are they not using in their current role? What keeps them working there and how they would like to be recognised and valued.

Before you conduct a meeting, you should draft up a stay interview template, with some pertinent retention questions. Here are some questions you might want to include:

  • What keeps you working here?
  • How would you rate your job satisfaction on a scale of one to 10?
  • If you had to change one thing about your current role, what would you change?
  • Do you receive feedback? If not, what kind of feedback would you find helpful to receive?
  • Is your current role flexible enough for your needs?
  • Do you feel you have any talents or skills that you would like to use within the business?
  • What motivates you in your current role?
  • What demotivates you in your current role?
  • Is there anything you would like to change about your role, your team, or your department?
  • Is there anything not mentioned that you would like to discuss?

Finish with an open-ended question. This lets the employee bring up any issues that you didn’t cover in your previous questions.

Tips on stay interviews

When it comes to stay interviews, don’t be too formal. The meeting isn’t an official review and shouldn’t feel like one. Keeping the interview a little casual not only puts your employee at ease, it also encourages them to approach you at a later date with any new issues. Interviews don’t need to be lengthy affairs either, they can be completed in as little as 20 minutes.

While they can accompany annual reviews, a year may be too long a time for issues to build up and chip away at an employee’s job satisfaction. For this reason, it may be most effective to undertake them 2-4 times per year.

Most importantly, act on the feedback received. If your employee raises an issue, and you don’t at least investigate it, they’ll think you aren’t taking their opinion seriously and will be even more motivated to leave.

If a particular issue crops up over multiple interviews, it’s vital that you take action, as this is likely to be a prominent reason why employees are leaving your business.

Article: Handling employee resignation and notice periods in Ireland

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Nora Cashe


Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

Nora has extensive experience representing clients at Employment Tribunal hearings, Conciliation / Mediation meetings before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. 

Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

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Deiric McCann leads Genos International Europe – The EU division of a world-leading provider of emotional intelligence solutions. 

With over two decades experience at the highest levels of management, Deiric supports clients to develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, psychological safety and engagements of their employees.

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David Begg

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David Begg was appointed Chairperson of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in January 2021.

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