Richard Finnegan
Structured conversations help supervisors determine what their employees like and don’t like about their jobs, says Richard Finnegan, CEO of C-Suite Analytics.

Want to Keep Valued Staff? Conduct a ‘Stay’ Interview

Asking five questions can help managers understand why employees leave their jobs.

April 11, 2016

While staff engagement and exit surveys provide data, they aren’t the key to understanding what makes an employee stay or leave their jobs, says Richard Finnegan.

To understand that, credit unions should conduct “stay interviews,” structured conversations that provide supervisors with insight into what their employees like and don’t like about their jobs.

“This is the answer” Finnegan, CEO of C-Suite Analytics, said Monday during the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Conference in Orlando. “But it takes courage to do it.”

The practice helps managers learn what actions to take to strengthen employees’ engagement with the credit union to increase retention.

Key components of a stay interview:

  • It’s completed by the immediate supervisor, never a member of human resources (HR);
  • It’s conducted separately from performance reviews;
  • It’s repeated once a year for current employees and twice a year for new hires;
  • It creates an individual stay action plan; and
  • It allows managers to forecast the likelihood of retaining the employee.

The stay interview consists of five key questions:
1. When you travel to work each day, what do you look forward to?
2. What are you learning here? What do you want to learn?
3. Why do you stay here?
4. When was the last time you thought about leaving our team? What prompted it?
5. What can I do to make your experience at work better for you?

From those five questions and any follow up questions, supervisors can learn what employees like about their jobs, what they dislike, and what would make them more satisfied with their jobs.

This increases the likelihood that they’ll continue to work at the credit union, Finnegan says.

Common issues requested during a stay interview include changing work processes, fixing or obtaining equipment, and boosting salaries, Finnegan says.

“Most things people will tell you can be solved,” he said. “Supervisors can go to their supervisors or to HR with issues employees have in an attempt to come up with a solution and hopefully decrease turnover.”