Stay interviews are here to stay

Stay interviews are one of the best ways to retain talent, provided they are part of the culture and not reactionary

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The Great Resignation has brought in significant changes to the way the HR operates, particularly to the retention strategy of companies. Added bonuses and benefits to employees not turning in their resignation after an extended engagement, quicker promotions, among other strategies have become common practices for companies at the moment. The relevance of stay interviews is just one of these trends.

Ranjith Menon, SVP-HR, Hinduja Global Solutions, tells HRKatha that HGS’ recent divestment from their healthcare business, due to which a big chunk of the company’s employees parted ways with the company, had created an uncertainty issue for the rest of the employees across all levels. The concern primarily stemmed from a feeling of job uncertainty and doubts about the future of the Group and the direction in which the business was headed.

To counter this and retain key talent with the Company, Menon and his team employed structured stay interviews for their key talents. “We identified key talent across all levels in the organisation and engaged them in stay dialogues by means of which we clarified the Company’s future and the employees’ value to that future,” he said.

The interviews were instrumental in helping the team retain some key talent. During these interviews, they were able to disseminate information that cleared doubts of talent and was critical in helping them make a decision regarding their future with the company.

“Organisations can experiment with external consultants in conducting stay interviews” 

Thiru A Thirunavukkarasu, CHRO, Hatsun Agro Products

What is a stay interview?

A stay interview is an in-person meeting, with a top talent during which companies try to deduce their motivations, their career goals and how they align with the companies’ future plans. It is a dialogue, in which the HR aims to make clear the importance of the talent to the Company and the Company’s importance to the talent’s future plans.

Amit Das, Director-HR and CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Co., explains that ‘stay conversations’ are definitely gaining more prominence now, more so, as a reaction to the Great Resignation phenomenon. In fact, he feels that they have come to play an integral part in the role of people managers and HR business partners. “They enable retention of the employees in whom we’ve invested the most time and resources. This helps us bring about low-cost changes that could reaffirm our employees’ commitment and engagement,” enunciates Das.

Menon asserts that when a person has resigned, efficacy of stay interviews is only about 50 per cent.

“Stay interviews have to be a part of the culture, and not a reactionary mechanism where one is scrambling to retain talent. It should be a regular dialogue, not something that is triggered when somebody exits. In my opinion, it is the best way to retain key talent, as one is neither overpromising or overpaying,” Menon says.

“Stay conversations are definitely gaining more prominence now, more so, as a reaction to the Great Resignation phenomenon”

Amit Das, Director-HR and CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Co.

In Menon’s case, they proved to be a good retention mechanism as they had already established a prior dialogue with their employees. He further emphasises that these interviews need to be really well thought out and even rehearsed beforehand in certain cases. Showing the employees the big picture is key for these interviews to work. The interviewer needs to address the future of the employees as well as the company, and amalgamate both through the dialogues for them to be effective.

“We have leveraged these structured discussions with our key/critical talent to discover specific actions that we must take, to strengthen the employee engagement and retention with the organisation. More specifically, every well-conducted stay conversation aids in building the trust quotient and in identifying warning signs that indicate that a key player needs more support or direction,” says Das.

How to conduct ‘stay interviews’

Menon emphasised that talking about their career progression and how their success story can be replicated for the company is paramount when conducting a stay interview. The company needs to excite them about their future prospects, identify what is attractive to them and then take the conversation in that direction.

He explains that the interviewer needs to take a very neutral stand. Further, half the success of these interactions is dependent on the ability of the HR to really extract what the employees have to say and understand them thoroughly. A dialogue cannot be one sided. Therefore, the role of the HR is to provide the employees with relevant information. It is also important for the interviewer to tread carefully and not put the employee first or the company first. While giving the employee more importance can be a peril for the organisation, thinking only about the company is not exactly the best way to retain talent either. A balance has to be struck.

“Stay interviews need to be well crafted, with a clear intent — to hear what the talent has to say and address their challenges”

Ranjith Menon, SVP-HR, Hinduja Global Solutions

“There is a fine line between stay interviews and regular interactions. Stay interviews need to be well crafted, with a clear intent — to hear what the talent has to say and address their challenges. One also needs to provide them with exclusive information about the Company’s future, but be careful while doing so,” Menon suggests.

Thiru A Thirunavukkarasu, CHRO, Hatsun Agro Products, says that confidentiality needs to be a priority while conducting these interviews, only then can they be effective. “It is what is being said that needs to be captured and not the person saying it,” he emphasises. He goes on to say, “In one of my previous assignments, we gave the panel list to the prospective employees and asked them to select the person who can interact with them, excluding their bosses and HR concerned. This eliminates confirmation bias if any.”

He further suggests engagement of an external consultant to conduct stay interviews. “Organisations can experiment with external consultants. I would even prefer interns from reputed institutes to be given an opportunity as a pilot, and if it clicks we can do the same periodically” feels Thiru. He goes on to clarify, “Consultants are effective in bringing out the true feelings or unedited versions of people”.

1 COMMENT

  1. Our Planet H.R. is an catalyst and so much value is derived by constant change in our world as if, progression has become necessity which has further led to new thinking, strategy or design. Therefore evolving has become of immense value to thrive.
    As we observe unfolding of complexities and uncertain events due to the Pandemic the value intent has become more important to an individual and is in the forefront for him to take any decision arising out of his professional or personal situation.
    Stay on and Exit interviews may work at times but not panacea. Something value driven has to be initiated from the Organization, which takes care of Organizational and individual value.
    Therefore “Self View” – where an employee can write an feedback to his department and H.R. in every two months of his high interest & low interest for his workplace, his ongoing work responsibilities and his present personal life as well. Hence by the time appraisal happens, four to five self views of key employees may be mirrored against there performance which will fairly reflect that how much department seniors and the organization has been able to plug the gap? if any. If not it will be fair for the management to take on for correction or discussion but must be addressed for rooting the good culture threads.
    Perhaps pro active way! not reactionary.
    Thus “Self View” for key talents can be structured and monitored by H.R. and reports can be drawn.

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