As a good practice, most organisations conduct exit interviews. This helps them identify the challenges in an organisation because of which employees leave. However, the truth remains that the employee has already left and talent has been lost. To prevent such unforeseen attrition, SRL diagnostics has decided to go ahead with stay interviews in the organisation.
Varun Mehta, director-HR, SRL diagnostics, says, “We brought it on as a precautionary measure because diagnostics is a people-driven organisation and employees are critical for us.”
A stay interview is a structured conversation between an employee and the manager and it is designed to find out what makes the employee want to continue with the organisation and what employees would like to see, to have a better experience. Done well, it can be helpful to uncover the root of what makes an employee feel fulfilled and stick on with the job.
While it may sound similar to an exit interview, the advantage is that companies get a chance to prevent unwanted turnover and to motivate and retain a particular employee, not just a group.
Mehta explains how it is different from a feedback survey or an exit interview. “Employee surveys are usually specific to one particular area, but stay interviews are generic interviews where the idea is to give the employee an open field”, clarifies Mehta.
It is basically an employee-satisfaction survey, which is company specific and provides a good lead indicator of what needs to be changed within the organisation to make employees satisfied.
SRL bought in this practice around two months back. The interview is conducted for all employees within the organisation, including the seniors and the new entrants who have just joined. The interview ratio, Mehta says, is 60 per cent of older employees and 40 per cent of new employees.
The idea behind including the newly-joined employees is to gather a fresh perspective on how to improve practices within the organisation. Moreover, somebody joining from another organisation is more likely to be able to shed some light on some of the best practices in that organisation. According to Mehta, this can help SRL, as an organisation, improve on the employee front and also get an idea of how a new joinee can fit in culturally into the organisation.
Further, bringing in such a practice ensures that the employees— both old and new— feel heard and experience the comfort of knowing that there exists a level of transparency in the organisation; and that the company is making efforts to try and understand the employees’ needs.
Having begun this practice two months back, SRL plans to make this a monthly activity. In the last few months, the Company has interviewed around 375 to 400 people within the organisation and received some good feedback as well. One of the suggestions it received pertains to the issue of job rotation. Employees working in different departments want shifts in rotation so that they can get hands-on experience in departments other than their own.
To explain this, Mehta provides an example, “At SRL, the paramedic staff makes up 70 per cent of the organisation, while the rest are technicians or doctors. The paramedic staff are either working in stand-alone labs, reference labs or hospital labs. So, the suggestion was to create a rotation which will allow the paramedics to gain exposure to reference labs and also to hospital labs.”
The HR team at SRL has 15 people and for this practice to work, Mehta has mandated a strict rule for all members. “Every person in the team has to conduct at least 10 interviews, either through call or fact-to-face, every month. This will mean, conducting about 150 interviews in a month.”
“The idea is to have a consolidation plan on a quarterly basis, and an execution plan once the quarter is complete”, adds Mehta.
SRL is planning to not only make stay interviews a monthly activity, but also work on the suggestions and feedback received at the end of the quarter. SRL follows a standard format of questions while conducting the interview, which can be either a physical interview or on a phone call.
The practice of conducting stay interviews can be useful to create a culture of openness and transparency within the organisation. Apart from helping prevent unwanted and unforeseen attrition, it can make employees feel heard and cared for.