Stay interviews have become a popular way to discover what works and what doesn’t when it comes to employee experience. For internal communicators, stay interviews can help to shape their strategies and leverage their intranet software for better engagement.
In a hypercompetitive market for talented workers, organizations can no longer wait for an employee to leave to find out what they could have done differently to make them stay.
Exit interviews can provide some value when it comes to understanding where organizations can do better, but as the Great Resignation rumbles on, improving the employee experience (EX) so that key workers don’t become another churn statistic requires more preventative action.
One of the greatest benefits of exit interviews is that employees are more likely to provide an honest and frank account of the experiences that have left them cold. It’s harder to extract this information from employees who aren’t already leaving, so organizations need to find creative ways to make employees comfortable with sharing this information before they find new opportunities elsewhere.
What’s more, the changes your organization makes in response to exit interviews can’t be put in place overnight and it can take time for those changes to make a positive impact. That’s why it makes sense to take frequent readings of individual employee experiences within your organization. This is where stay interviews are proving highly valuable for organizations that are constantly looking at ways to improve the employee experience, reduce attrition rates, and attract new talent.
What is a stay interview?
A stay interview usually involves a high-performing individual sharing their experiences of working for their employer. Conducted by the employer, the aim of the stay interview is to find out what the organization is doing well in terms of employee experience and where they can make improvements. It is a great opportunity to find out what matters to the employee, and what motivates them.
One potential issue with stay interviews is that they only measure the experience of those invited to take part in them (often high performers), meaning they may not uncover the challenges that need to be addressed to motivate and engage low performers. This is where internal communicators can take the concept of the stay interview and work it into their communications strategy to understand the experience of more individuals across the business.
Communications tools + stay interviews = Better data
Engagement plays a vital role in the overall employee experience, and the intelligence gathered during stay interviews can be beneficial for shaping internal communications to generate better engagement. Understanding how colleagues feel about internal communications, and how they want to engage with your organization, is a subject that is well worth exploring during stay interviews.
But each stay interview will cover a much broader range of subjects relating to employee experience, so internal communicators may want to combine stay interview insights with activities such as surveys and ongoing discussions within employee groups, all of which are valuable for gathering more focused data.
An employee experience platform (EXP) is an effective medium for comms teams to gather this broad range of insights because modern intranet software provides key feedback features such as Pulse surveys, forums, and discussion groups.
The following section examines how it’s possible to combine different tools to gather the best possible mix of information.
Essential intranet features for gathering employee insights
Organizations have traditionally measured how employees feel through lengthy and complex engagement surveys circulated once a year. The insights gathered in these annual surveys can be problematic for two reasons.
First, so much can change in a year that by the time improvements based on the most recent survey have been implemented, employees could be dealing with new issues and challenges. Secondly, people can switch off a little during lengthy surveys, meaning their responses to some questions may not be so forthcoming – particularly those questions towards the end – as people rush to get the survey completed.
Pulse surveys performed on a regular basis can be a more effective way of measuring how employees are feeling and making necessary changes faster. Whether functioning as a smaller and more regular survey, or frequent quick-fire polls, a Pulse survey that is built into an intranet with advanced analytics can give a more immediate reading of how your people are feeling, and allows you to track changes and take action when it’s required, instead of waiting an entire year to measure the impact.
Forums and discussion groups
More and more, employees expect transparency from their employers. So, what better way to find out about the hidden issues in your organization than through an open and honest discussion in which everybody feels that they are invited to contribute? Intranet forums and discussion groups can help to tap into how people are feeling by asking questions and encouraging people to share their thoughts and feelings.
Of course, not everybody will be comfortable sharing their feelings so openly and this is where Pulse surveys complement forums and discussion groups, allowing people to respond anonymously when they want to.
Dedicated homepage content area
Providing a link or widget from your intranet homepage to a dedicated area for employee feedback (and the actions the organization is taking) can be an effective way to demonstrate that you are serious about employee experience.
The dedicated area can feature various pieces of content related to EX, such as results from the latest Pulse surveys, links to discussion groups and forums, insights the organization has picked up from those discussions, and actions that have been implemented, as well as actions that are in progress and planned for the future.
Questions to ask about employee experience
Whether conducting one-on-one stay interviews or encouraging employees across your organization to share their experiences with you via surveys and open discussions, it’s important to carefully consider which questions you will ask in order to get the most informative responses.
Here are a few stay interview questions to consider:
- What’s the one thing that would make you no longer want to work for the organization?
- What do you like/dislike about every working day?
- Can you describe an experience at work that has caused frustration or anxiety?
- Describe your dream employer
- What can we do to make your experience better?
- What is something that you miss about your last employer?
Encouraging employee feedback with empowering language
Using empowering language can be one of those small factors that helps to encourage employees who might not feel confident sharing their honest feedback about what the organization can do better.
Some colleagues may feel reticent about providing constructive criticism, believing that the organization should be able to recognize where and how it needs to improve by itself. In reality, understanding what needs to change and how is extremely difficult to judge without valued employee input.
Here are three examples of empowering statements that you can try when asking your people for their feedback:
- ‘Help us improve your experience’
- ‘We can’t change without you’
- ‘Tell us what we can do better’
It’s difficult know what issues are lurking under the surface, but using careful wording and statements can help employees recognize that positive change can’t always happen without their help.
Creating better experiences and building stronger bonds
Employee experience is a form of currency that can be used to make an organization better. Once shared in a constructive and measurable way, staff feedback helps senior leaders to make tangible improvements that benefit everybody.
This is why actively, regularly engaging with workers and making adjustments that improve their experiences will build a stronger bond, yield greater appreciation from your employees, and help to reduce attrition as the Great Resignation rolls on.