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7 HR leaders share personalized listening strategies that work!

Roshan Nair

30 May 2024

In this article:

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We've recorded over 20 podcasts with HR leaders.

And every time, we've hit them with one key question:

"How do you stay connected with employee sentiment when operating at scale?"

The answers we've received are diverse.

But a few stand out, especially those that zero in on hyper-personalization.

We've combed through more than 20 hours of recordings to cherry-pick the best employee listening strategies. These strategies are timeless and effective and have proven to work, no matter when you use them.

Let's dig in!

Here are 7 ways top HR leaders stay in touch with their organizations

1. Don’t treat every individual the same

[💡 Pro tip by Dilip Manepalli, Vice President, Vodafone]

Let’s face it — meaningful employee listening at scale is impossible without AI.

Templated surveys never could (and will never) capture the whole picture. And you can’t have one-on-ones with hundreds or thousands of employees to understand how they’re feeling either.

But AI can account for the unique situations that an individual goes through and personalize surveys accordingly. Be it sick leaves, relocating to a new office, or changing roles, AI gets it in real-time.

🎙 HR Leader Recommendation

“The power of personalization in employee surveys is a game-changer. Typical surveys lack this personalization and treat every employee the same, whether they've been with the company for 20 years or just 6 months. It's like asking a seasoned astronaut and a newbie to rate their zero gravity experience using the same checklist—completely unrealistic.”

Dilip Manepalli

Vice President, Vodafone

🥜 In a nutshell: Ditch the one-size-fits-all approaches. Instead, leverage AI to personalize surveys.

2. Want a true pulse on your team? Mix stats with real talk

[💡 Pro tip by: Kavita Kurup, Global Head - HR & Corporate Communication, UST]

Numbers don't lie, but stories tell the whole truth.

A quantitative survey might tell you that 8 out of 10 employees would recommend your workplace—that’s awesome, right? But they only cover the 'what'.

That’s where qualitative surveys come in. They uncover the 'why' behind the ratings. They help you balance ‘data sense’ with ‘people sense’.

🎙 HR Leader Recommendation

“While we consider quantitative feedback where we ask employees how they feel at work on a scale of 1 to 5, we spend more time focusing on the qualitative statements that really define what they are saying in the quantitative surveys.”

Kavita Kurup

Global Head - HR & Corporate Communication, UST

🥜 In a nutshell: Keep it real, and listen to the voices behind the stats.

3. Engagement surveys are cool, but continuous listening is cooler

[💡 Pro tip by: Hemant Kapoor, Regional Talent Leader - India, Danaher]

Engagement surveys are great at giving you a snapshot view of employee sentiments at the time of survey. But employee perceptions change over time and these surveys don’t account for that.

That's why continuous listening is your key to real-time feedback. It's the only way to catch issues before they snowball and take proactive action on time.

🎙 HR Leader Recommendation

“Listening is a continuous process. Yes, you may have your engagement cycle, and you may have your surveys. However, you need to have multiple touchpoints with associates throughout the year — keep talking to them and keep understanding their challenges because these things keep changing.”

Hemant Kapoor

Regional Talent Leader - India, Danaher


🥜 In a nutshell: Listening is not a one-time activity. It’s a continuous process.

4. Make surveys relevant for every employee

[💡 Pro tip by Krupa NS, CHRO, Xoriant]

Want meaningful feedback? Then make your surveys relevant.

Time your surveys to key milestones in the employee journey — onboarding, first quarter, six months, work anniversaries, manager changes, role changes, etc. This lets you capture valuable insights without overwhelming employees with too many surveys.

🎙 HR Leader Recommendation

“Frequent surveys can backfire, in my knowledge. How do you really grab feedback from a person without them getting irritated that you’re constantly behind their back for it? There needs to be a time gap between them to avoid survey fatigue. It's crucial to identify the right touchpoints for feedback without constantly bombarding employees with questions.”

Krupa NS

CHRO, Xoriant

Here’s how Amber helps tiket.com send meaningful, interactive surveys at key milestones in their employees’ journeys.

🥜 In a nutshell: Space out your surveys adequately to align them with employees’ key milestones.

5. Gauge team sentiments at both individual and collective levels

[💡 Pro tip by Satyajit M. Menon, Global Head of People Experience, Innovaccer]

Gathering team sentiments at both individual and collective levels is how you cover all your bases. It’s the key to understanding how individual pieces fit together to create a bird’s eye view of your organization’s employee sentiment.

This lets you tailor your game plan and bring out the best in the whole squad.

💡 Satyajit’s 3-step process for employee listening

  1. Self-assessment: Survey employees with 8-10 critical questions.

  2. Team assessment: Interview the team to understand the logic behind their responses in the self-assessment.

  3. Leadership involvement: Leaders interview the team at large to understand their perspectives better.

The result? A rich, qualitative approach that gets to the heart of the matter.

For example, Amber’s dashboard allows you to look at aspects of employee experience individually or collectively under cohorts like function, manager, location, etc. This helps you identify underlying issues when a cohort's sentiment deviates significantly from your organization’s median.

🥜 In a nutshell: Listening at both the individual and team levels is how you get the full scoop on everyone’s needs.

6. Don’t just take feedback. Act on it.

[💡 Pro tip by Pradyumna Pandey, Manufacturing HR Head, Hero Motocorp]

How do you get people to share honest and transparent feedback in engagement surveys?

By showing them that their voices actually matter and that their feedback is making a difference. That’s how you build trust. When they know their thoughts are being heard and being taken seriously, they start opening up even more.

🎙 HR Leader Recommendation

“Not only do leaders need to learn how to actively seek feedback, they should also be very responsive. They need to respond to the feedback and demonstrate that it’s being taken seriously. It's not about how you think about it — it’s about how your people feel it.” 

Pradyumna Pandey

Manufacturing HR Head, Hero Motocorp

🥜 In a nutshell: Show your employees their feedback was listened to and acted upon.

7. Stay one step ahead with ’stay interviews’

[💡 Pro tip by Tina Rastogi, Global Head - HR, Cybage]

Sure, collecting feedback from employees who quit can be real eye-openers as to what went wrong. But the uniqueness of Cybage’s strategy lies in their stay interviews.

Where most companies focus on employees who quit, Cybage takes it a step further with surveys to understand why employees stay.

🎙 HR Leader Recommendation

“It is very important to understand why certain employees stay with the organization. One of your USPs could be that around 60% of your employees grow with the organization. Such an insight is crucial, and we gather it through targeted surveys to understand how we can continue to support and retain our talent.”

Tina Rastogi

Global Head - HR, Cybage

🥜 In a nutshell: Use a mix of exit interviews and stay interviews to understand what causes (and prevents) attrition.
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