Exit vs Stay Interviews: Could It Help Us Navigate “Flexible Work” and Other Work Conundrums?

by Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

image of letter tiles balancing on a ball spelling the words work and life Asking employees what they want and need is a form of recognition.

You cannot give (or get) everything. Yet, how do you know what you CAN do if you don’t know what is on the list?

And trust us when we say folks have a list. Never have we seen such clarity – from new employees to those nearing end of a career – of what they will not tolerate and what they need to perform at their best. We see this in every coaching call, training session and post-keynote discussion with attendees. Work psychology research backs this up.

Reframing the Flexible Work “Debate”

Let’s say you are still trying to strike a balance between on-site vs remote. Employees might need specific forms of flexible work to be the most satisfied, engaged, and productive. Leadership might say folks need to be on-site according to the set guidelines required for maximum collaboration, connection, and alignment. Arguably, everyone is right. (Poor choice of words. There is nothing to “argue” about.) This is about embracing “both/and” so we are meeting everyone’s needs. We all want satisfaction, engagement, productivity, collaboration, connection and alignment.

As a recent Harvard Business Review article shares what on-site folks said when they were asked what they most want and need. Their answers might surprise you.

Surprises are for parties. Not for HR policies.

We need to ask more. We need to ask earlier. We need to ask with deep interest and curiosity.

Getting “Stay” Focused at Work

image of a pair of work goggles with the word STAY in the centre over the nose pieceWe need to put on “stay goggles” at work.

Sure, you could ask in an exit interview: “What do you need that you didn’t get?” You could also ask any employee anytime, “What do you most want and need to do your best work?” If someone wants and needs ten things and you could do two without hardly any effort, resources or negative impact, wouldn’t you do it? There’s a good chance others would say they want and need those same two easily implementable things. Exponential benefits can be gleaned from that one delicious conversation!

We have seen this so powerfully in our clients that we’ve created a Stay Interview tool you’re welcome to have. If you have run out of questions, no doubt there are more here for you to leverage.

Exit Interview vs. Stay Interview

  • image of two women talking at a desk in an office in a stay interviewThe difference between being surprised and being creative.
  • The difference between reacting and “proacting.”
  • The difference between barriers and opportunities.

(And whoever said you couldn’t do stay and exit interviews? You could review the themes as a whole. Even better data!)

Work isn’t a problem to be solved. Never before has there been greater “permission” to co-create, collaborate, experiment, examine, and reinvent.

What do you think?

Are you ready to ask one person one question today about why they stay?

What have you got to lose?

Looking for ideas on creating your own Stay Interview? Check out these other posts for some delicious tidbits to get you started:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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