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Why the “stay interview” is more valuable than the “exit interview”

In a recent article on Talent Management, Sharon Jordan-Evans, an executive coach, and Beverly Kaye, CEO of Career Systems International, make the case for why the exit interview should become a thing of the past. Instead, they say firms should be conducting regular "stay interviews," earlier in the employee life cycle. While exit interview take a retroactive approach—seeking in the "employee's final moments to glean a deeper understanding of the reasons he or she is leaving"—stay interviews take a proactive approach. 

The employer's goal, through a stay interview, is to gain insight into what the employee wants from his or her work environment. With this information, the employer can help the employee remain productive, happy and fulfilled within the organization.

However, employers often eschew the stay interview, and Jordan-Evans and Kaye address some of the reasons. 

Some employers are concerned that workers would request raises and promotions. In this case, if it is not feasible at the moment, employers need to tell this to employees upfront, citing the main obstacles (i.e. budget cuts or restraints). However, just because you cannot honor this specific request doesn't mean there aren't other steps you can take. Employers need to demonstrate responsiveness to the employees' wishes, and based on the meeting, try to find other ways to improve the employee's experience. 

There are certain guidelines employers should follow during stay interviews. 

First, you need to emphasize that you highly value the employee, along with asking him or her what they want from their work environment. Also, make sure to get at least three or four responses, increasing the likelihood that you can deliver on at least one of them. 

Employers also have more power than they think when it comes to delivering on employee requests—four of the top five "stay factors," which the authors list from survey results, are within the manager's control. The five factors include: "exciting, challenging or meaningful work," "being recognized, valued and respected," "supportive management/good boss," "career growth, learning and development" and "job security and stability."