The Stay Interview

When I speak about equity and inclusion with clients, I often ask about turnover rates for whites and people of color. Unsurprisingly, we uncover (gently and with the trembling of all of Human Resources) that there is no clear documentation or process for monitoring these rates. With the few clients who do have trustworthy data, people of color do tend to leave faster, in higher numbers, and often with fewer second chances than whites.

And what about exit interviews?

Exit interviews are a tradition of organization reflection- an attempt to understand what went wrong and what could we have done to retain (or in some cases make a different hiring decision) an employee. Was the job description accurate? Was there a plan for when the grant didn’t get renewed? Was there sufficient coaching and professional development? Was their manager given adequate resources?

What about the exit interview? I ask.

The look is one of shame, apology, overwhelm and confusion. We discuss the challenge of who and when and what to do with the feedback. These are considerable obstacles and it’s not a simple set of operations. Depending on the role, the individual and the circumstance, the Human Resources or Office Manager as is the case is smaller shops, is the person to convene this series of questions and come up
with a plan.

But why wait for me? Why wait for the dramatic departure of the first black executive team member or the angry call from the board member who saw the vaguebooking by a disgruntled Trans employee?

Recently I heard someone describe an innovative practice at their organization:

The Stay Interview

Stay interviews are conducted to assess employees’ job satisfaction and their career ambitions, the aspects of their job they most enjoy, and the elements of the job or the organization they find challenging; concerns that might cause them to leave.

Employees are given the opportunity to reflect and share their experiences and the organization learns more about the impact of it’s’ structure and culture. In order for Stay Interviews to be most successful, managers should aim for the best job of your life question. “What factors would contribute to you doing the best work of your life?” This is how managers learn about the ambitions and the passions of their employees.

And when we uncover the hearts of our colleagues, we let them know that their passion and purpose matter. Whether we can match them or not, then and there, is an honest question. But we have demonstrated an authentic interest in them and they know it. These conversations are fresh air, they are opportunities for reflection and honest dialogue.

Stay interviews afford us a glimpse of possible futures.

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