Best Practice | Stay Interviews at BAT
While it is traditional for organisations to have exit interviews, many companies realise there is a need to conduct stay interviews. Stay interviews are a proactive and structured approach to engage with current employees and gain insight into their job satisfaction, career aspirations, and overall experience within the company. Where exit interviews are reactive, stay interviews are a proactive approach to assessing the needs of employees while they are still within the organisation.
In the APMEA West region (Middle East, North Africa, Caucasus, Central Asia and Pakistan), BAT recently established stay interviews with their employees to help with retention and focus on customised, individualised, and purposeful interventions for employees instead of a ‘one size fits all’ strategy.
The primary objectives of stay interviews include:
- Identifying factors that contribute to employee retention.
- Understanding individual motivations and needs.
- Addressing potential concerns or dissatisfaction before they lead to turnover.
- Aligning employees’ goals with the company’s objectives.
- Tailoring retention strategies to foster a more positive and fulfilling work environment.
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Why the practice was needed:
BAT sees stay interviews as necessary for their organisation’s talent management strategy. The interviews provide a proactive and insightful approach to employee retention, allowing the organisation to understand their existing workforce’s unique needs, motivations, and concerns.
By engaging in open and candid conversations with employees about their experiences, career aspirations, and overall job satisfaction, BAT can identify potential issues and opportunities for improvement before those issues escalate into reasons for departure. Stay interviews not only demonstrate their commitment to employee wellbeing and growth but also enable the customisation of retention strategies that resonate with each employee.
BAT’s main focus was a targeted approach, mainly focusing on their key talents, employees sitting in critical roles, and women; this was in line with the turnover trends and likely personas to leave the organisation, as the organisation had observed in the last few years.
Their strategy and subsequent practice were born out of numerous brainstorming sessions in the HR team aimed at curbing attrition rates within BAT’s APMEA West region. Over the past three years, this region has witnessed an upward trend in attrition, mirroring prevailing patterns across diverse industries and markets. To effectively tackle this challenge, BAT developed and deployed a proactive measure to understand employee sentiments - what it would take to leave the organisation and what they appreciate in the organisation so that BAT could focus on elevating and building on those initiatives.
How the practice was implemented:
BAT conducted external research to see what cutting-edge practices were available externally in the era of “great attrition” to foster employee retention and engagement and found that stay interviews were highlighted by many other researchers and top-tier businesses globally. They broke down the process into four steps.
Step 1: For BAT, building complete awareness of the stay interviews concept for their HR teams across the region was critical, including upskilling sessions to explain the practice and how to conduct meaningful and targeted stay interview sessions for different personas.
Step 2: The second step was a region-wide upskilling session for all their line managers run by the Area Talent Team to ensure the same messaging and level of understanding was provided for all line managers conducting the stay interviews with their direct reports.
Step 3: The third step was to share the standardised stay interview templates, questions with all line managers, and online self-learning tools for additional content.
Step 4: The fourth step was to gather all the stay interview information and to begin a complete analysis to ensure consistency of findings. This analysis was done by the to commence by the Area Talent Team.
Stay interviews allowed BAT to take a deep dive into what drives employee corporate purpose and contributes to fostering the best workplace to develop and build their careers. Overwhelmingly, the organisation saw that there were three main reasons employees chose to stay with BAT:
- Challenging work that allows them to grow both personally and professionally.
- A feeling of camaraderie and support, providing employees with a like-minded circle to work within.
- Learning opportunities provided by BAT to finesse functional mastery and leadership skills to deal with constant change and speed.
Through BAT’s stay interviews, the organisation has a new way to listen to their employees. Understanding employee experiences is critical to helping an organisation thrive and keeping valuable talent. If you want to read more about BAT’s practice and get a complete insight into the approach, challenges and learnings. Access it now via the Top Employers Programme if you are certified, or learn more about it here!
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