The people behind Behavioral Intelligence: How Mainstay drives employee engagement through partnership and collaboration

Sam DeFlitch

November 24, 2021

At Mainstay, we’re pretty proud of the behaviorally intelligent solutions we offer to colleges and businesses — but our technology wouldn’t be nearly as effective without a bit of human genius behind it. We may be a little biased, but we’re confident that our team is the best at what they do: Using chatbots to have meaningful conversations that guide people toward a more fulfilling life. 

In this series, we’re shining the spotlight on our teams to give you a peek into the daily work, cool factor (yup, we kick it with Gen Z every day), and expertise that Mainstay’s people bring to the table.

Building meaningful relationships with your employees is key to creating a cohesive workplace environment, promoting employee engagement, and improving employee retention. A central part of building long-lasting relationships with employees is always being there for them with the accurate, empathetic, and relevant responses they need in any situation — whether they’re asking a question in the middle of the night or just need a morale boost before lunch. 

When your employees trust that you’ll always be there to provide them with the information they need — within the context that they need it — they’ll feel more connected to the company and better equipped to do their jobs.

Mainstay’s Employee Engagement Platform enables HR teams like yours to support employees at scale with timely, empathetic answers to their questions and gentle nudges to take action on the things that will help them succeed — all through automated text messaging conversations. As an added benefit, your HR team receives real-time, aggregate data on your employees’ responses, so you can gauge their motivation and sentiments, and make adjustments that will improve retention. 

Our partners initiate and manage their personalized, automated conversations with employees through their own customized behaviorally intelligent chatbot. Behavioral Intelligence is a method for helping people identify and achieve their goals through conversations that combine accurate information (IQ), empathy (EQ), and contextual relevance (CQ)

IQ is critical to ensuring your employees have the resources they need to do their jobs at scale — but it’s not just what you say that matters. It also matters how you say it, and that’s why every one of Mainstay’s behaviorally intelligent chatbots are designed with supportive, encouraging personalities that facilitate meaningful conversations and carefully consider context for each individual employee. Because EQ and CQ are uniquely human qualities, it takes skilled people to infuse our technology with these traits. That’s where Mainstay’s engagement managers enter the picture.

How IQ, EQ, and CQ work together to boost employee engagement

Daviyion Johnson is an engagement manager for Mainstay’s workforce partners. He collaborates with HR teams that use our Employee Engagement Platform to help them implement, analyze, and expand innovative approaches to communicating with their employees. His unique background in education, technology, and partner support, along with his passion for improving the employee experience come in handy on a daily basis as Daviyion partners with employers to implement best practices for engaging their employees. 

“I gain an understanding of the challenges our partners face and their objectives and then use my knowledge of how our technology works to develop exciting approaches to employee engagement along with them,” Daviyion says, describing his outlook on boosting employee engagement. “My goal is to improve our partners’ employee experience through internal, emphatic conversations.”

For Daviyion, it’s especially important that our partners’ chatbots demonstrate this sense of empathy in their responses to employee concerns and feedback — and he works to achieve that as he builds each bot’s knowledge base. Think of a knowledge base as the chatbot’s brain; everytime an employee asks the bot a question or responds to a nudge, the bot taps into its knowledge base to respond with accuracy, empathy, and contextual relevance. Daviyion and his team work to expand each bot’s knowledge base, so every interaction becomes more accurate and personalized. “These small moments of building the bot’s knowledge base are opportunities for me to build in some compassion and genuine care for folks,” Davyion says.

Teamwork is so important! After all, we can do so much more together than any of us can do alone. Can you tell me some of the ways your teammates helped you this week?

Everyone came together and helped clean up scattered units that came out of the lift bays. Everyone is also working as a team player and getting better at their tasks at hand.

Wonderful, thank you for sharing! Don't forget to take some time to recognize the people you appreciate working with. Have a great day!

For example, a new hire recently texted their company’s chatbot saying that they needed to go to the hospital right before their start date. If the chatbot responded with “Ok. I’ve passed this on to your recruiter,” it would be an accurate response — but it’s not the best response because it doesn’t combine the three components of Behavioral Intelligence: IQ, EQ, and CQ. Daviyion notes that a behaviorally intelligent response would inform the employee that this information has been sent to their recruiter, while also including an empathetic message to recognize the stressful context of the employee’s situation. Including “I’m so sorry to hear that! Wishing you well. Everything will be ok, and someone from your new company will reach out personally,” would elevate this response to show compassion and concern for the employee — while demonstrating that their company genuinely cares about their well-being and increasing the trust necessary for boosting employee retention. That’s how Behavioral Intelligence creates a sense of belonging — and more satisfied and engaged employees.

Engaging employees with industry-specific conversations

Part of Daviyion’s work involves collaborating with partners to create a unique voice and persona for their behaviorally intelligent chatbots. “There are unique considerations when developing different bots’ personas,” Daviyion says. “For example, how many gifs do you send? What is the most effective type of communication for your workers?” To make these determinations, Daviyion’s team collaborates with each partner to identify target outcomes and goals for their employee engagement strategies. Together, they develop plans for using Mainstay to spark the most meaningful conversations and drive positive employee behaviors.

A bot’s personality can go a long way to amplify your company culture, values, and communication style. So, when developing a bot’s personality, Daviyion always considers the impact of the bot’s voice on employees — especially when it comes to engaging new hires and supporting employee retention efforts. “The bot is often one of the first voices your new hires will hear from your company,” he notes. “What do you want them to experience from this interaction?” 

The management team wants to make sure this is a great place to work, so asked me to get some feedback. Can you tell me what matters most to you and what may need to improve?

Plant improvement, retention of employees, morale of my coworkers, and personal growth. Growth as a human being, leader, coworker, and within management.

That's great input! Thanks for letting me know 👍

Daviyion has found that short, succinct messages are generally best for supporting employees who work in industries like manufacturing, while employees who work from home or in an office tend to respond better to messages that provide space for broader conversations. He notes that developing a bot’s persona involves collaboration and input from partners about their employee engagement objectives and target outcomes. Even the amount of emojis the bot uses can make a big difference when it comes to developing a bot’s personality.

Moving employee conversations from transactional to transformative

In his work with our partners, Daviyion observes that most email conversations employees currently have with their HR teams are transactional in nature — but he’s interested in moving these interactions into a transformative space. Meaning, he aims for the bot to provide employees with a way to ask questions about the things that matter to them without fear of judgement or other negative repercussions.

“We are constantly finding ways to infuse IQ, EQ, and CQ into the bots, with the goal of retaining employees for our partners,” Daviyion says. Check-in messages and surveys, in particular, are powerful ways to gauge sentiment and demonstrate to employees that their voices are being heard. These types of messages are key to boosting employee engagement and retention, which is one of Daviyion’s goals in his collaboration with our workforce partners. In order to achieve this goal, Daviyion uses his experience with Mainstay’s internal chatbot, Ilo, to develop strategies that boost our partners’ employee engagement.

Ilo: Mainstay’s own behaviorally intelligent chatbot

In addition to supporting employee engagement goals for Mainstay’s partners, Daviyion also manages Mainstay’s own internal chatbot, Ilo. He uses his experience running Ilo to experiment and find new ways our partners can make their conversations with employees even more meaningful. “With Ilo, we can continue to support employees and expand engagement on a daily basis,” he notes, describing the ways ilo provides Mainstay employees with reminders, nudges, and check-ins. 

Ilo encourages Mainstay’s employees to schedule wellness breaks, grab lunch, and take advantage of opportunities to build on their skill sets — while simultaneously providing an experimental space for Daviyion and his team to identify which employee engagement techniques work and which ones don’t. “People want to connect with each other. How do we use this technology to form relationships while being a remote-first company?” Daviyion asks. “Ilo can’t solve everything, but it has proven to be a useful part of many, many solutions.” 

Daviyion is using what he’s learning through his work with Ilo to determine future best practices for our partners, so he and his team can better support HR teams as they shift their communication with employees into a more transformative space.

Start engaging your employees with behaviorally intelligent chatbots

Mainstay’s Employee Engagement Platform makes it easy to connect your employees to the information they need by providing accurate, empathic, and contextually relevant answers, reminders, nudges, and check-ins. In return, you’ll collect aggregate feedback on employee sentiments to learn what really matters to your people — which you can use to enhance the entire employee lifecycle. 

Request an interactive demo today to learn more about how you can work with dedicated people like Daviyion to guide your employees toward a more fulfilling life — one message, gif, or emoji at a time. 

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Get a guided tour of Mainstay’s Engagement Platform

Mainstay’s Engagement Platform uses Behavioral Intelligence to help businesses build meaningful relationships, optimize insights, and drive action.

Sign up for your personalized demo to find out how Mainstay makes it easy to spark conversations with your employees and guide them toward positive results.


Instant support — anytime, anywhere

Mainstay’s behaviorally intelligent chatbots make it easy to engage with employees on the channels they prefer to use:

SMS text messaging
Live chat
Web chat
Social media

Let's talk

Get a guided tour of Mainstay’s Engagement Platform

Mainstay’s Engagement Platform uses Behavioral Intelligence to help schools and businesses build meaningful relationships, optimize insights, and drive action.

Sign up for your personalized demo to find out how Mainstay makes it easy to spark conversations with your students or employees and guide them toward positive results.


Instant support — anytime, anywhere

Mainstay’s behaviorally intelligent chatbots make it easy to engage with students and employees on the channels they prefer to use:

SMS text messaging
Live chat
Web chat
Social media

Let's talk