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Stay interviews: What they are and good questions to ask


You may want to start scheduling more stay interviews on your work calendar.

As it pertains to work-related interviews, they typically occur in one of two scenarios: When job applicants submit their qualifications for an open position and when — or if — they decide to move on to other opportunities.

But increasingly, employers are holding these question-and-answer sessions for another reason: to persuade their current hires to stay put. Appropriately titled, they're called stay interviews, and as a business owner in an industry with a high turnover rate, scheduling them more regularly may help you improve retention by getting to the bottom of what motivates individuals to leave. By implementing the appropriate incentives, it may result in your workers believing the grass is always greener on this side of the fence.

What is a stay interview?
The purpose of stay interviews is three-fold: (1) to figure out why their current employees opt to keep working in their present capacity and (2) to assess what circumstances might lead them to apply for a new role and (3) to increase employee engagement.

In the trucking industry, commercial drivers have had loads of options to pursue something different, given the ongoing driver shortage that's plagued the industry for quite some time now. Indeed, according to the most government data available from the Department of Transportation, there were over 1.5 million trucking-related job openings nationwide in March, as reported by FreightWaves.

Stay interviews are designed to prevent workers from desiring to pursue something new.

Are stay interviews effective?
Stay interviews are a fairly recent phenomenon. Because of this, it's too early to speculate on the success rate. But according to Richard Finnegan, a stay interview expert and CEO of C-Suite Analytics for the Finnegan Institute, the power of these interviews lies in relationship building.

"Stay interviews will not lead to perfect outcomes, but they will certainly improve engagement and retention in your company," Finnegan explained. " And they will do this by helping your leaders build more productive one-on-one relationships with their employees."

What are a few examples of good questions to ask during a stay interview?
As you introduce stay interviews into your retention strategy, you will likely develop several questions that may be more effective than others through trial and error. But in the meantime, the Society for Human Resources Management has a few suggestions:

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
  • What do you like the most about working here?
  • What do you like the least about working here?
  • If you had the opportunity to change something about your job, what would it be and why?
  • What makes you feel like you're appreciated at work?
  • Do you have certain proficiencies that aren't being tapped into?
  • What keeps you doing what you're doing?
  • What would cause you to leave your job?
  • What can I do as a manager to support you in your role? 

Stay interviews may not be a panacea to addressing the trucker shortage, but they can help you be more proactive about retention and chart out a plan that keeps more of your current drivers from calling it quits.

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