Use AI Conversations to Understand Employee Feedback and Frustrations
By Jason Walker and Rey Ramirez
Imagine the extraordinary ability to have conversations with hundreds (or even thousands) of employees in one week. With the emergence of AI, a new company is helping HR leaders to accomplish just that.
Revealai uses artificial intelligence to conduct interviews that rival human interactions at scale. It has been used with speed, efficiency, and impartiality by leading organizations, including H-E-B, 7-Eleven, ADP, and NASA, to understand the perspectives and beliefs of employees.
“Revealai is a discovery tool which can help organizations get to the ‘why’ faster and understand the root cause behind what is happening in any organization,” said Bob Dimicco, CEO of Revealai.
“We give HR leaders three superpowers:
- The ability to ask any open-ended question to stakeholders in one week.
- A powerful analysis to process and understand the verbatim comments without combing through thousands of messy, open-ended answers.
- A dashboard with deep insights derived from these responses that HR can share with other leaders and team members so they can benefit from the intelligence.”
“Our product can collect golden nuggets of intelligence from employees at the speed of a survey, at nearly the depth of an interview, for less cost than a focus group, and with a 2-4 times response rate over traditional surveys,” according to Dimicco.
Understanding Employee Perspectives after a $BB Merger
After a recent multi-billion-dollar merger between two mega giants in the retail industry, the HR team was concerned about how the employees perceived the fusion of the two cultures. They used the product to reach out to over 6,000 employees to discover their individual thoughts, frustrations, and experiences.
“We want to work with the executive committee to align around those findings we need to act upon and build plans around how we can move the needle. We also want to pluck out things we want to reinforce,” according to the HR VP who led the initiative.
Within eight days, Revealai conducted 1,800 interviews and identified seven critical action areas that the executive could prioritize. The conversations gathered employees’ insights on strategy, integration, and career aspirations.
“The time it would take to get the data face-to-face could take months or even years. I honestly can’t remember a large-scale survey I’ve done where we got the results and the “so what” from,” said the HR program lead.
In addition to M&A, HR leaders are using Revealai to help with the following:
- New leader, first 90-day introduction
- Probing for views on company culture, values, and DEI efforts
- Identifying ways to improve benefit, reward and recognition, health/wellness, and compensation programs
- analyzing open-ended responses from large annual employee surveys
- Universal listening for all business functions
A User-Friendly Process
The process is very user-friendly and has been used by organizations as small as 40 to as big as 40,000, according to Dimicco. The interview is accessed through a link that can be sent to a stakeholder’s smartphone, email, or Slack account, for example, using any web browser. Then the stakeholder clicks on the link to start the interview. Once the interview begins with open-ended questions, the stakeholder responds with their answers as if texting or chatting with someone.
Revealai gathers all the responses and analyzes the information using AI. The result is a combination of qualitative insights and quantitative data. The raw input is clustered and sorted by macro topics and sub-topics.
“Our AI looks at all the open response data, all that messy textual data, and then statistically clusters together similar phrases, similar words, and similar sentences,” Dimicco said.
So, suppose roughly a third of employees who responded to the questions said that they stay at their company because of the culture; Revealai may compute those answers as 35 percent of employees say that they stay there because of its culture. Then perhaps Revealai may calculate that 10 percent of employees said they stay at their company because of the employee stock options, and so forth.
“After looking at Revealai’s outputs, you would then drill down into why a stakeholder said that culture is why they stay at their company,” Dimicco said. “You can then drill down one level deeper and read the individual verbatim responses—in their own words of what all the employees are saying.”
Revealai may tweak some questions for the AI bot to produce during the conversation. For example, if a business wants the AI bot to come across with an empathetic tone, the team will fine-tune the AI bot’s questions and responses.
Revealai’s Dashboard Makes It Easy to Share Intelligence
It’s easy to present the outcomes of Revealai’s conversations to colleagues.
“Many of our customers say that creating presentations is super time-consuming. Since Revealai has a live dashboard, our users often just use the dashboard in their presentations rather than slides to show the live data and to interact with the filters, which saves a lot of time,” Dimicco said. “Sometimes they take screenshots of the live dashboard and put them into a slide presentation, while others may export the results into a spreadsheet and make their graphs and charts.”
Revealai does not perform longitudinal studies or exit interviews, Dimicco said. Instead, it can perform interviews throughout several months, even monthly, to see if any improvements or positive changes have been made.
“Revealai is not trying to replace the employee satisfaction survey,” Dimicco said. “Revealai is a discovery tool.”
AI has the remarkable potential to revolutionize HR’s understanding of employee feedback, regardless of the specific approach chosen to leverage this tool. By embracing AI, HR can embark on a transformative journey, completely reshaping their ability to gain valuable insights into the minds of employees.
Jason Walker and Rey Ramirez are cofounders at Thrive HR Consulting, a minority-owned HR advisory that provides value-based HR support for mergers and acquisitions, C-Suite executive coaching, employee relations, DEI and belonging, performance management, employee engagement, and talent acquisition.