Stay Interviews Are One Way to Help Improve Employee Retention

Talent acquisition has been front and centre in conversations about today’s employee-driven labour market. But attracting top talent is only part of the equation. Companies looking to stay ahead in today’s competitive market also need to have a comprehensive retention strategy in place.

The costs of employee turnover can be high (according to one article at Psychometrics.com, up to 20% of salary for mid-level employees and as high as 213% of salary for C-Suite leaders) making a strong retention strategy vital.

Tools for employee retention

In our work with both our retained executive search clients and the Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures Awards program, we’ve found that regular and transparent communication, pulse surveys, learning and development plans, total rewards packages, and meaningful recognition are now table stakes for any employee retention strategy. Companies looking to stand out from the crowd are adding to their retention toolkits – flexible work schedules, work from anywhere policies, expanded benefits programs and more.

One tactic that has grown in popularity is the stay interview – it’s an important tool that competitive companies today are using to measure employee engagement and improve employee retention. In a recent poll of the Waterstone Human Capital community, 82% of respondents said that stay interviews are part of their company’s strategies to reduce employee turnover.

Stay interviews let leaders:

  1. determine how their team is feeling about the company and its culture,
  2. get a sense for how individuals feel about their role, their impact on the company and its goals, and whether they have the tools they need to be successful,
  3. talk with their team members about road blocks and challenges, and to identify any issues that may cause a high performer to self-select out of their role or out of the company, and
  4. recognize and celebrate successes, and demonstrate to team members that their leaders want to help them excel.

Conducting a successful stay interview

Successful stay interviews start with open communication. Make sure your team members understand the purpose of your conversation in advance, and encourage them to be be open and honest in their answers. You’ll also want to make sure they understand how feedback will be used and what next steps will be (if any).

Here are 10 stay interview questions that can help you kick-start your conversation:

  • What do you look forward to at work every day?
  • What makes you feel proud to work here?
  • What do you like least about working here?
  • What keeps you working here?
  • What skills and strengths do you have that are not being fully utilized here?
  • What do you think about how employees are recognized and valued here?
  • How do you like to be recognized?
  • If you could change one thing about your job, team, or company, what would it be?
  • What might tempt you to leave?
  • What can I/we do to make your experience here better?


Stay interviews help leaders put their people – and culture – first. They’re an excellent tool to support employee recognition and, just as importantly, employee retention.

Finding it difficult to recruit and retain top talent in today’s work environment? Waterstone Human Capital can help. Book a meeting with our team to talk about your needs.