3 tips for successful 'stay' interviews

Exit interviews come too late to retain valuable employees. Here's how to gather actionable feedback you can use to decrease turnover and improve engagement -- before workers decide to leave.

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A "stay interview" is similar in intent to its cousin, the exit interview: to gather feedback from employees about their experiences in the workplace, both positive and negative, to determine areas for improvement. There's one key difference, however -- timing. Stay interviews are performed much earlier in an employees' tenure to measure engagement and satisfaction, in the hopes of reducing the chance that talent will leave for better opportunities.

"It's very similar in intent to an exit interview, it's just done earlier rather than later - or when it's too late for that feedback to make a difference," says Erin Pappo, client services director for workforce management and consulting firm Camden Consulting. The purpose of a stay interview is to get employers and employees thinking about what's important to them in the workplace, what makes them stay, what factors could entice them to leave and build more effective strategies for engagement and retention, Pappo says.

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