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Inside the stay interview

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: The Stay interview, four-day workweek and pay transparency.

—Amber Burton, reporter (twitter | email)

I need you to stay

If you want your tech workers to stay, ask them, “What would it take for you to leave?”

That may sound like the beginnings of an awkward conversation, but according to HR experts, it could be the key to retention in this wild era of resignations that we’re all living in.

I recently spoke to Amy Zimmerman, chief people officer at Relay Payments, about the stay interview, in her opinion the best retention tool when it comes to keeping tech workers happy and productive.

Here were my biggest takeaways:

  • A stay interview is really not that different from the more common exit interview. In a traditional exit interview you might ask: Why did you leave? Could we have done something to keep you? What was your favorite and least favorite part about working at the company?” The key difference is by the time you’ve asked those questions, it’s too late. They’re already out the door!
  • Don’t start conducting stay interviews unless you are committed to a) devoting the time and attention to it and b) taking real actions based on what you discover. It takes about a good hour to conduct a thorough stay interview, not to mention the documentation and follow-up analysis needed. You also lose a lot of goodwill with employees if they take the time to have a candid conversation without any follow-through with regards to their complaints.
  • Don’t send your direct reports the questions ahead of time. The stay interview is meant to be natural and organic. It should also be paired with regular check-ins and opportunities for employee feedback, like engagement surveys and performance reviews, which would give employees a chance to think about what they want to say ahead of time.

Some example stay interview questions, according to Zimmerman:

  1. What's your favorite and least favorite thing about working here?
  2. What might tempt you to leave?
  3. If you could change something about your job, what would it be?
  4. What talents are not being used in your current role?
  5. What would you like to learn in your current role?
  6. What can I do to best support you as your manager?
  7. What should I do more or less of as your manager?
  8. How do you like to be recognized?
  9. What motivates you or demotivates you?”

I’m curious: What questions would you add to the list? Does your company do stay interviews?

— Michelle Ma, reporter (twitter | email)

Ask a tech worker

Our team spends everyday talking to some of the top tech and workplace experts about the biggest questions in the workplace today. But we’ve also realized the best people to talk to are often tech workers themselves. My colleague Allison Levitsky is taking to the streets of San Francisco each week to ask tech workers our most burning questions about the state of the workplace. This week’s question: How are tech workers’ commutes changing in San Francisco? And let me tell you, the answers are good. For example, you might be surprised (or not surprised) to find that the workers interviewed who ride the BART to work were not largely concerned that it would expose them to COVID. “Everyone’s pretty much wearing their masks on the BART, so it doesn’t really change my commute too much,” said Sai Muktevi, who joined Salesforce in a support role during the pandemic.

Have tips for future questions for San Francisco tech workers? Send Allison an email at alevitsky@protocol.com. And if you see her out in the Financial District at lunchtime, don’t be shy.

Read the full story here.


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Pay, perks and benefits

The latest in pay, perks and benefits news in the workplace.

Over the past year we’ve heard about lots of four-day workweek experiments within tech. Several months later, some companies are making the arrangement permanent. Startup unicorn Bolt just announced that it would be making its four-day workweek a permanent fixture moving forward. Jennifer Christie, Bolt’s new chief people officer, spoke with Protocol about why they’ve embraced the new model. The company sees the shortened workweek as more than an incentive to recruit employees. Here’s how it works for Bolt.

  • Everyone works the same four days each week. Monday through Thursday. Christie said this decision was made so no one feels like they’re missing anything.“Unless there's some kind of business need, usually driven by a client or a customer facing commitment that's a little bit beyond our control, we try to have the same days,” she told Protocol. “It does normalize it for everybody and also gives everyone that break. They know that everyone is taking a step back and taking that break, and that things aren't piling up in their inbox… which kind of defeats the purpose of taking a step back.”
  • Bolt still observes organization holidays. Yep, that means if a holiday falls on a weekday employees still get Friday off. Leadership is also continuing to encourage workers to take advantage of their unlimited vacation days. They don’t think of Fridays as another vacation day, it’s simply a four-day workweek. “We want people to also take time to really step away for several days at a time. So we'll be monitoring that as we go just to make sure that other other aspects don't take a hit because we've transitioned to this,” said Christie.
  • Fridays are for whatever employees deem necessary. Bolt encourages employees to use the fifth day of the week for whatever they’d like. Whether that be catching up on deep work or spending time with family. There are no rules, just no meetings.


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Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great day, see you Tuesday.

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