4 Strategies for an Effective Stay Interview

Laura Knisley
November 14, 2023

One of the biggest struggles facing nonprofit organizations today is employee retention and satisfaction. Nonprofits are struggling to retain high-performing employees, and high turnover rates can lead to organizational dysfunction and a decreased ability to carry out their missions effectively. 

There are many different reasons that employees voluntarily leave their jobs. For nonprofit leaders and HR professionals, it’s crucial to understand those reasons so you can get ahead of them and make changes before employees leave. 

One great way to do that is the stay interview. 

What’s a Stay Interview? 

Unlike an exit interview, a stay interview takes place while an employee is still working at the organization.  Its primary aim is to gain insights into each employee’s motivations, job satisfaction, and potential challenges. It serves as a preemptive measure, allowing organizations to address concerns before they escalate into reasons for departure.

Strategies for Effective Stay Interviews

  1. Engage key stakeholders to set the questions and identify pertinent issues for stay interviews: These stakeholders might include senior leadership, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) committees, cultural committees, and boards of directors. 
  2. Strategic phasing: Timing is key in executing effective stay interviews. For example, at our organization, we conduct a firm-wide culture survey in the spring and stay interviews in the fall. This allows us to gather feedback throughout the year and to keep our eye on constant improvement. Also, if your organization is too large to interview everyone every year, stay interviews can be conducted in phases, targeting different segments of the workforce each year.
  3. Consistency: Stay interviews should be conducted annually, as employee concerns will change year after year. 
  4. Confidentiality: Employees won’t share honestly if there is a concern that their job or future promotion is on the line. Confidentiality protects employees and ensures that you get the most honest data. The individual conducting stay interviews should take care to share trends they hear in aggregate and without identifying individual responses. 

Benefits of Conducting Stay Interviews 

  1. Higher employee retention. This won’t happen overnight, and of course, retention is much bigger than just doing stay interviews. But stay interviews can be a crucial piece of the retention plan. 
  2. Improved culture. Stay interviews can enhance the culture of your team by fostering an environment of engagement, transparency, and accountability. It’s a concrete way to ensure that all voices are heard at your organization!
  3. Understanding the strengths of your organization. In addition to understanding the challenges, it’s important to understand what the strengths of your organization are so you can stay true to those and reinforce what you’re already doing well. 

I hope you found this useful, whether you’re just kicking off stay interviews or looking to conduct them more effectively. I’ve compiled a list of questions that Evolve uses internally for our stay interviews. You can download the list here.

And if your organization is struggling with employee retention or hiring, don’t hesitate to reach out. Evolve is always here to help!