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Conducting Stay Conversations vs. Exit Interviews

Employee Management
April 27, 2023

About the Webinar

Stay conversations are meant to keep employees engaged and improve lines of communication, directly resulting in retention and preventing a workload increase across the team. If structured appropriately and with perfect delivery, a manager could identify action steps in the employee career path, gain valuable insights into organizational culture, and understand why employees want to be there. If you have a spare 20 minutes on your calendar, we would love for you to join us for a quick coffee break where we focus on reducing turnover by increasing engagement through structured conversations.

What You Will Learn:

  • Talking to employees, Attentive and Thoughtful Listening, and Taking Action
  • Aligning Purpose and Sharing a Vision
  • Organizational Culture

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Conducting Stay Conversations
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Abraham Gonzales Pollick

About Your Host

Abraham Gonzales-Pollick

VP of Client Development

Abraham came to Vensure with a deeply rooted passion for client service, organizational strategy and building relationships. He started his HR career after 14 years of being an entrepreneur and running a successful General Contracting business.

He is a highly regarded keynote speaker and global facilitator on several developmental topics. Abraham has served on boards for non-profit organizations for over 10 years. Today, he mentors young entrepreneurs on building the future. 

He holds a B.A. in Organizational Management and MPA studies in Product Development.

Abraham Gonzales Pollick

About Your Host

Abraham Gonzales-Pollick

VP of Client Development

Abraham came to Vensure with a deeply rooted passion for client service, organizational strategy and building relationships. He started his HR career after 14 years of being an entrepreneur and running a successful General Contracting business.

He is a highly regarded keynote speaker and global facilitator on several developmental topics. Abraham has served on boards for non-profit organizations for over 10 years. Today, he mentors young entrepreneurs on building the future. 

He holds a B.A. in Organizational Management and MPA studies in Product Development.

Vensure Coffee Talk Webinar

Conducting Stay Conversations vs. Exit Interviews

 

Beatrice Runyan Hello, and good afternoon to everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for our Coffee Talk today. We will get started in just a few minutes. We’ll allow another minute or two for everyone to join. So, stay tuned and we’ll get started shortly. Thank you.

 

Well, good afternoon, everyone. Thank you again for joining us this afternoon for our talk on Stay Interview Best Practices: How to Amplify Employee Retention. Just a quick housekeeping note: if you have any questions, please put them in the Q&A and we will address all of the questions individually after the session has ended. We will also be sending out a recording of the session within the next day or two. So, stay tuned for that as well. And I’d like to go ahead and get started and kick it off, and to introduce Abraham Gonzalez-Pollick. And so, Abraham comes to us, he has over 25 years of experience with organizational strategy and client service and development. And we are excited to have him here today to share more about this great topic of stay interviews. So, Abraham, I’ll turn it over to you.

 

Abraham Gonzales-Pollick Awesome. Thank you, Bea, for that introduction. Hello everyone, and happy Thursday. I am so excited to talk about conducting stay conversations. A couple of weeks ago we presented part one of our turnover conversation, Employee Turnover. And we continue the dialog, and we dive a little deeper into stay conversations and what they are, why they matter, and how they’re different than exit interviews. And so, let’s go ahead and dive in and let’s unpack this a little bit more. So, today’s agenda, we are going to talk about stay conversations — high level, 10,000 foot view. And we’re going to go a little deeper and talk about how to have the stay conversations and what to do with them. And then we’ll wrap up the session about employee experience throughout the organization and how your employees experience your company culture throughout the entire lifecycle of their career with your organization.

 

A certain goal or objective that needs to be met, whether you are trying to solve for retaining employees, you’re trying to improve the engagement, or you’re trying to get more intel on any process improvement that needs to happen there’s usually a strong goal and a reason behind them. Stay conversations happen way before an exit interview. Sometimes when we get to an exit interview, a full-on experience is already happening and there are so many impacts. It might be a little too late. It could have been more beneficial sooner. So, when we think about stay conversations, they really are conversations that are happening throughout the entire lifecycle. And so how do you do them?

 

You know, we’re going to talk a little bit deeper here in the next couple of slides, but high level here, you know, stay conversations should be structured. They should create a safe place where people can actually have a conversation. It should be a conversation where we’re seeking to understand and really listening to what is being said. And we should be taking action, right. Whether we’re taking some action in the moment or we’re making plans to take action afterwards. And preferably it’s the latter. And I’ll explain why here in just a moment. Stay conversations, you know, why they are beneficial is, it really allows an organization to identify roots and come up with some ideation. It helps build trust, loyalty, it helps retain talent, if that’s the goal, or it helps [unintelligible]. So effective discussions really allow for identifying problems. They help you collect employee feedback, real feedback in the moment. They also allow you to discover what aspects of your employee experience could be pushing them away or inspiring them to stay. These effective discussions also allow you to find solutions that allows you to really look at data to determine, you know, what is it that we do need to fix? What do we need to take action on and what can we fix? Yes, it helps improve the employee experience, and that’s absolutely critical. It’s critical for the health and safety and the engagement of your employees. But it also leads to customer impacts when we can help find solutions on why an employee is here or why they decide to stay with the organization and why they decide to be engaged or still inspired to be engaged. All of that does lead to the output, right, and our customers feel that. Some of the other things that allow an organization to have is to really build trust. When we are having these effective discussions, you’re able to build trust with your employees and even loyalty. You get to show your employees that you really do care about their experience, and you want them to have a successful and positive experience with your company. It allows you to take immediate action on what the employee’s feedback is. It also allows you to keep employees in the know.

 

So, let’s talk a little bit more about immediate action on the employee’s feedback, because so many times we can get all of this wonderful feedback and then we do nothing with it. Or we do something with it, but we only solve for part of the items, and sometimes we just take too long. And by then the employee is feeling like maybe their voice wasn’t heard if they’re not seeing the immediate action. And building on that, when we are looking to build trust and loyalty with our employees, when we keep our employees in the know, we’re trusting them with the information and the efforts that we’re taking. We’re recapping or validating for them, “Hey, we heard you, and these are the things that we’re doing, and here are some things that you can immediately see and feel, and here’s some other things that we have planned”.

 

Having effective discussions also allows for us to retain the right talent. And there’s a lot of studies that go out there and say, you know, the goal should always be to retain top talent. We like to say retaining the right talent, and the right talent means a lot of different things. And it really depends on the jobs that need to get done and the jobs that need to get done into the future. Are we finding the right talent, do we have the right talent, are we building the right skills for the people that we need for the future to continue to drive this business into the future? And so, some ideas on these effective conversations are really try to talk to as many employees as possible, but talk to your most critical employees, the ones that are doing the most critical jobs that are really driving the business, driving the customer experiences. Reach out to your high performers. High performers have a lot of really great perspective. A lot of them have figured out a way to navigate through the day to day and really get the job done. And also, talk to your low performers. It’s important to understand what their experience is. A lot of a lot of things contribute to why we may have a low performer. It could be a skill issue and maybe more development around very specific skills might do the trick or something may have happened that caused the low performer to just totally disengage. Maybe, there aren’t enough belonging groups. Or perhaps maybe they feel like they don’t have a support system or an ally, or that they can’t see a future, or maybe they don’t have a strong enough relationship with leadership. It could be a number of things. Sometimes we just have disengaged employees. It’s not even a skill, it’s a will issue. And so, some of the benefits here, again, about some of these stay conversations and having an effective conversation does allow for a lot of wonderful things here, identifying problems, finding solutions, building trust, and retaining the right talent.

 

But let’s go let’s go deeper. Let’s talk more about how to really do it, how to have that stay conversation. Here’s some best practices: simply talk to your employees. These conversations should be separate from a performance conversation. It should really be separate from even a one-on-one conversation. It should be a dedicated conversation where you are talking to the individual one-on-one. There are some organizations that will probably talk to the employees in a group setting, but usually what’s more effective is when you can allow the individual to have that one-on-one time with you as a leader or you as a champion for engagement. In these conversations, in these one-on-one conversations, it’s important to really probe, to learn more and take notes. Now, the thing with probing is that sometimes that could come across as interrogating, right, if we’re asking question after question after question. You know, tone matters in these kind of questions, tone matters. Being really inquisitive, seeking to learn from them. So probing is a really big part of this one-on-one conversation.

 

Coming with an open mind. So many times, we as leaders, or if we’re on other task forces or if we’re on engagement teams, we’re so close to our other initiatives that we are focusing on that we think everyone knows everything that we do, sometimes. And so, when we come into these conversations ready to educate people, we’re not coming with an open mind. And so, these stay conversations should, again, be focused on the employee or the individual that’s sharing their thoughts with you. It’s also important to be a champion of the company initiatives and really take ownership, right? There are also things that you can say that that will demonstrate how you are supporting the company initiatives by saying, we believe that these are the things that we could do better versus saying, well, we’ll let the leaders above us decide. That’s not really taking ownership. Employees want to talk to a leader that is, yes, going to be an advocate, but yes, going to help them get to a light at the end of the tunnel. When we kick over the responsibility to other people, we’re not demonstrating that we’re a strong advocate for the employee.

 

Other ways to have stay conversations is, really, active listening. And a good rule of thumb here is to listen 80% of the time. Again, it’s about what information they want to share with you versus what you need to educate them on. That’s not the platform for that. There are other platforms, other activities within the organization where you can educate the employees on things. This is really meant just to listen. When we’re active listening, it’s important to really be fully present in the conversation, push the laptop away, take a pen and paper out. Really, one-on-one focused, listening to them, looking at them and really observing what they’re saying, how they’re saying, observing the body language. That could tell you a lot on where the conversation, perhaps, needs to go. You know, asking open ended questions. Really, again, listening to what is being said, maybe even how it’s being said, and without judgment, right. Without advice, without saying, well, maybe you should be thinking about it this way, or maybe the way you’re thinking about it is wrong.

 

The other important thing about a stay conversation is really taking action. And so here are some ideas about how you can take action. You know, really listen to what the ideas are. Focusing on three initiatives that, you know, you can execute on and make a commitment on back to the person you’re talking to. Narrow it down to three when you try to say, oh, gosh, I’ve heard 100 different things. We’re going to go after 100 different things, you’re setting yourself up to fail there. But when you say, “Listen, of all the things that we heard, let’s I’ve narrow it down to the top three themes here in what I heard. Would I be correct in that?” It’s a little bit more achievable to address fewer items that are really meaningful and impactful. It’s important to stay realistic and reasonable because at the end of the day, you have to go and follow through, right, and deliver on it. You want to do what you say you’re going to do. So, you do want to keep it realistic and reasonable. I think it’s important to also determine some timelines with some of these initiatives that you’re agreeing to. Determine the timelines and say “This is when you can expect to hear back from me. This is when we think it might be reasonable, this is this is when will launch certain activities”.

 

It’s always important here to recap your conversation with the employee. You know, send them a thank you note for their time and their contributions and that you heard some really great things and this is what you got out of it and what you’ll circle back on. Following up is something also really important. It’s beyond the recap. And it’s not just a follow up once, but it’s a follow up to say, “Hey, haven’t forgotten about your thoughts, your perspective, your contributions. Again, thank you, just wanted to follow up with you to let you know we’re working on it. We’ve had conversations, and the last thing to do is talk about it here”.

In the next slide, we’re going to go a little deeper here. But it’s important to really just talk about it, right? Let people know we’re working on some initiatives. So, after the stay conversation, you know, what do you do? What happens after the stay conversation is just as important as the interview itself. It’s important to align the purpose and share a vision. Absolutely important to have an action plan and act on that feedback. You know, change should always be intentional. It should align with the business objectives. It should be something that is in response to what the employees are telling us. It’s just important, really, to also make that change happen sooner rather than later. A year down the road might not be ideal, but sooner might make a bigger impact. It’s also important to connect the dots too, when you are coming back and following up with your employees, also connect the dots on all the other initiatives and how they might play into employee engagement and the business objectives and the customer experiences that you’re chasing. And again, as I mentioned in the previous slide, it’s important to talk about it.

 

Just a couple of stats here as we wind down our Coffee Talk, but some really important perspectives here: Forbes magazine in 2021 stated 75% of the employees are more effective at their job when they feel heard. That’s pretty incredible. And just recently, NPR released some data that 32% of U.S. workers are engaged with their work, which is 4% less than from 2020. And so, with this being said, let’s think about: how do we really change that? What’s happening? Well, let’s talk about where your employees are experiencing culture. How do we shape culture? Here are just some items for all of you, perspectives to think about. Employees are experiencing your company culture in all of these areas: recruitment and onboarding, employee development, the tools, the resources, and the spending that’s made, the employee and leader relationships. They experience your culture through a number of company initiatives, depending on how many initiatives you’re throwing at them, company policies, job opportunities, so on and so forth. And as you see on the slide here, there are a lot of a lot of factors here where the employee will experience your culture. And so, what we say is it is okay to have these stay conversations at any point in the employee lifecycle. Any point of the employee life cycle so that you can understand in the moment where you might need to pivot.

 

And now let’s talk about exit interviews. Before we close up our conversation today, right? Exit interviews. Could all of this wait until the exit interview? Sure. It’s too late, right? Could be too late. By that point, the employee’s disengaged by that point. You’re going to experience some people that will maybe give you some feedback. Some employees may not want to give you any feedback. They just want to move on. They don’t want to exhaust any more energy into the company than they’ve already given or whatever was driving them away that already took their energy. And you might have some employees that really will give you some feedback. But what we say is that an exit interview might be a little too late to get the information. The information is more critical sooner.

 

And so, with that being said, we hope that you got some really great information here on stay conversations, just a quick Coffee Talk. We encourage you to visit our website, vensure.com, you can view this webinar, other webinars that we’ve had and also have a look at our blogs. We just posted a blog on turnover and stay conversations to continue the dialogue. You can find that in our resources tab on vensure.com. And so with that being said, Bea, thank you for the opportunity to speak on this topic.

 

Beatrice Runyan Absolutely. Thank you, Abraham, for sharing some great information about such an important topic. If there are any questions that I wasn’t able to answer in the chat, we will make sure to follow up afterwards. And again, to reiterate, please be on the lookout for upcoming blogs that will have further discussion on that. One question that did come up, was will the deck be provided after that? Yes, we will be sending it out within the next couple of days. Everyone that’s registered will get a copy of the recording. And with that, we thank you for your time and appreciate it and hope everyone has a great rest of their day.

 

Abraham Gonzales-Pollick Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Have a great day.

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