Personalized user experiences can be as simple as location-specific personalization (Uber, Google Maps, or Ola), or more complex recommendation-based personalization that patterns on past buying or browsing histories, ratings, and reviews, and similar user preferences (such as Amazon and Netflix). These platforms map the user’s interests, thereby influencing his or her future experiences and buying decisions. As consumers, we are increasingly drawn towards apps and services that offer individualized experiences and technology that knows or learns something about us, tailoring itself to a given situation or preference. Personalization is a critical component of popular consumer technology and one that will gain due to prominence in the HR technology landscape. A lot of this need and inspiration is driven by the millennial generation. They are used to being empowered to select their own destiny, and at the workplace, personalization plays a part in their self-chosen projects, how they wish to earn and be rewarded, the devices they use, and where, when, and how they work.
Why Personalisation in HR
Organizations must provide talent with compelling employee experience (much as technology providers must provide customers with compelling user experience), or they risk losing that talent to more employee-centric organizations. For this reason, user experience in the workplace will be a leading trend in the years ahead. Personalization will also drive the expectations people have over the benefits they receive. People will be looking not only for the benefits that reflect their current situation and circumstances but also for those which are flexible enough to change and grow with them, as they grow in their career. While the benefits will vary from person to person and team to team, the packages will have to be seen as having an equivalent value. Personalized technology, and particularly self-service platforms or apps, provide employees with individualized access to information that previously required dialogue with HR.
Advances in business intelligence allow companies to gain a deeper understanding about their employees. Businesses now have more meaningful ways to segment their workforce on the basis of characteristics such as personality types and overall wellness. For instance, Accenture segments employees based on their overall wellbeing (E.g., number of vacation days they have taken, or the length of time on a project), to identify those who might be at risk of leaving, or those who are coping with high levels of stress. Having such a great insight into employee behaviors helps in ensuring that they remain engaged while at work.
What gets Personalised in HR
People expect their employer to “make work work” for their individual circumstances. Companies are starting to respond by taking a “whole person” approach and increasing the flexible work options available to their workforce – 63% already have a formal flexibility policy in place. Advances in technology are enabling individualized choice with no additional administrative burden to HR. Personalization will revolutionize many areas of HR, and some areas where the impact and outcome is already significant are: Employee life cycle, L&D, health and wellness programs and Personalisation in Careers.
Personalized Candidate experience from Day 1
An estimated 9 out of 10 candidates use employer websites and career sites as primary sources of information about the organization, so making them relevant, compelling, and user-friendly should be high on employer priorities. When prospective candidates make a trip to the career site, they should get the feeling that they are visiting a personalized version of the site. To candidates, companies’ careers page is the employers’ brand. Therefore, it is important to have an attractive career page which is also easy to navigate, so that it reflects positively on the employer brand and helps woo top talent.
Whether or not a candidate applies to an opportunity, keeping the lines of communication open is a crucial step in the recruiting process. In fact, to be successful in implementing a proactive recruitment strategy, personalized communication is an absolute must, and will make prospective candidates feel special.
Candidates want to know more than just the responsibilities and requirements of a specific job opportunity. They also want to know how the position fits into the company’s structure and culture, and what’s in it for them (i.e., employee benefits and perks), if they decide to make the jump. More importantly, candidates want to know the “why” behind their decision of whether or not your company is the right place for them. Reaching beyond personalized job recommendations based on the individual candidate’s background and interests, Personalisation gives relevant information on why that candidate should consider working for a company, based on a mapping of individual strengths, interests, experience, and role expectations.
Personalizing Learning and Development
Many companies organize development opportunities around jobs and not people. With this approach, a specific program is designed to reflect the requirements of the job, and every individual is required to complete the same program in order to qualify for the job. While this kind of job-focused process is easier to administer, it can be frustrating for employees and costlier for the organization. An individualized approach to development would start with the employee, not the job. What strengths, skills, and experiences does this person have already? Where does he/she excel? Where does he/she need to improve? Armed with such information, a customized program can be developed to target the right areas. This enhances employee motivation and engagement by delivering a tailored learning experience pitched at the right level to challenge the learner without overwhelming or frustrating them. It also saves the organization time and money by eliminating unnecessary training.
Here are some benefits of offering a personalized learning experience for employees.
Personalization promotes skill progression
If we take Udemy as an example, its new Smart Recommendations product feature powers what individual learners should learn next using the data of 24 million learners on Udemy worldwide. By analyzing billions of learning interactions unique to Udemy, they deliver smarter, personalized learning recommendations for each individual. E.g., A new manager who opts for a general management course may receive course suggestions on giving feedback, good communication, emotional intelligence, or presentation skills to further hone their management skills. Through these kinds of recommendations, employees can deepen their knowledge beyond the original course they took.
Personalization provides on-demand content
Data is essential to personalizing the learner experience. Learning technology can help learning administrators gather data about specific learners to understand their specific learning needs, analyze their skill gaps, and provide customized training programs, and this is the mere tip of the iceberg. Today’s learners expect just‑in‑time answers to their questions. Centralizing the training content and allowing it to be accessed on-demand through the Learning Management System enables personalized, self-paced learning.
“Today’s learners expect just-in-time answers to their questions. Centralizing the training content and allowing it to be accessed on‑demand is the key.”
Personalization facilitates Social Learning
According to the widely used 70:20:10 method, learning happens socially and collaboratively. If the LMS enables social learning, it can allow the learner’s peers or the organization’s subject matter experts to provide personalized training recommendations to learners, as well as respond to questions on a one-to-one basis. This is a definite attraction for the millennials and upcoming Gen Z. Apart from the fact that it boosts learning engagement, it also promotes a self-learning culture.
Personalization of Employee Health and Wellness
Wearables seemed like a fad that would come and go. However, the worldwide wearables market is set to double by 2021 and is gradually making inroads into corporate wellness. Wearables present employers with the opportunity to gather more reliable behavioral data to design corporate wellness programs specifically tailored to the needs of their workforce. Since there is always the issue of people claiming what they want and use in reality, the application of behavioral data could improve utilization, as well as the value employees, derive from their benefits program. The capabilities of wearable technology could enable employers to monitor the health of their workforce and make real-time recommendations to improve lifestyles, whilst preventing them from falling into the ill category.
Here are some ways to personalize the health and wellness experience of employees and provide appropriate programs.
Biometric Screenings: This is the tried-and-tested cornerstone of wellness programs. Weight, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels are commonly captured in this process. Self-reporting on exercise frequency, diet, and smoking are often included. Health risks are assessed and each employee can set their own personal goals from this point onwards.
Coaching: The next opportunity is to personalize outreach. The health risk assessment and biometric screening help identify employees who need immediate intervention. This follow-up is generally done by a wellness coach or a registered nurse, who contacts the employee to discuss options. Having information available on demand in recorded webinars, videos, and educational sessions empowers employees to access the features any time. Apps and mobile-friendly websites make it easier to access information, and it is likely that the employees will take advantage of such resources.
“Financial wellness is a concept that has come to the forefront for employers as research evidences the relationship between personal finance, mental health, and productivity.”
Involving employees’ families increases engagement, personalizes goals and outcomes, and demonstrates that wellness is important both in and out of the office. A recent study conducted by Mercer found that 88% of employers reported improvements in health risk with spousal involvement.
Getting the Executive Team involved
The executive team can have a lot of influence on employee morale and team dynamics. In addition to impacting day-to-day business functions, they can serve as key motivators in promoting health and wellness program participation. In addition, by engaging the leadership team, it establishes wellness as an important company objective, gives employees another outlet for support, and in some cases, a fun challenge. According to a study conducted by Mercer, about 66% of organizations with strong leadership and cultural support reported improvements in health risks as opposed to only 26 percent of those with little or no support.
“The capabilities of wearable technology could enable employers to monitor the health of their workforce and make real-time recommendations to improve lifestyles.”
Personalized Wellness Microsites: An organization can set up a company microsite for its wellness program, where employees can find news and resources. Unlike a wellness portal, content can be tailored to employees’ specific health concerns, preferences, and goals based on their demographic, biometric, and health assessment data. Employees also can edit their settings and microsite content.
Nutritional Support: Nutritional guidance can be personalized at scale through technology. With intelligent software, every person’s biometrics, dietary needs, and preferences can be transformed into individualized recommendations for recipes and meal plans. Personalization keeps wellness programs relevant for employees and can be done in a number of different ways. Whether wellness coaching is done by a computer or a person may not matter if employees find the results relevant. Computer-generated exercise plan, mobile nutrition app, or a personal wellness microsite may be all that is needed to deliver a one-size-fits-one wellness program.
Companies across the world hold a lot of data on their employees. Without straying into the dangerous breach-of-individual privacy territory as allegorized in frontline media, this data can be used to develop employee experience. When rummaging through an individual’s data and cross-referencing it with current trends, demographic tendencies, and environmental influences, employers can find out what an employee wants out of their workplace, down to the color of the mugs. Providing direct responses to these demands is a kind of hyper-personalization. Workspace and environment can be significantly altered based on individual employee data.
Although implementing hyper-personalized content, products, or services on a global scale might seem daunting, employers must remember that a huge chunk of the workforce is digital native. Employees are used to hyper-personalization in their everyday lives, from Facebook to grocery shopping, to even healthcare. In fact, it is the younger employees who demand hyper-personalized experiences in order to have authentic interactions with their employer.
Personalized Reward and Benefits
As each one of us journeys through life, we go through different stages that greatly influence our priorities around the preferred pay-mix. This essentially determines the salary and incentives we need at certain points in our life. Those of us who may be sole breadwinners for a family of four, for instance, will usually prefer a higher fixed income and less variable pay. Whereas, those of us who are more mobile, or without dependents might be willing to take a larger pay-at-risk ratio, with a notion that higher risk would yield higher returns.
Employee perceptions on rewards have a direct and measurable impact on attraction, retention, engagement, productivity, and thus, the bottom-line. A crucial factor in sustaining employee engagement around rewards is realizing that the changes in employee attitudes and culture today are also helping reshape rewards into dynamic forms beyond cash and performance.
In order for an employee to feel truly valued, and therefore more motivated, a targeted form of personalized recognition will have the greatest impact and promote the most positive result. Personalizing a reward means that the reward is something more individually suited to a staff member. Instead of a reward that everyone receives, providing a reward that appeals directly to the individual can help them to feel like their company sees them as more than just an employee and acknowledges their individual needs and interests.
Capturing subjective choices through objective means
Clearly, personalized rewards will not happen overnight, but we can expect this concept to gain tailwind as an increasing number of organizations explore and hone their mechanics through an improved understanding of workforce demographics and employee experience. Consumer marketing relies heavily on the constant study of the target audience through market research methods, including focus groups, data mining, and surveys. These - and other- research and analysis methods are also available to HR for determining and testing what might work best within their organization.
Among these methods are conjoint analysis and trade-off analysis.
1. Conjoint analysis: Captures employee preferences through surveys that touch on multiple aspects of their pay and rewards.
2. Trade-off analysis: Simulates various scenarios that demonstrate the potential changes in transferring the costs of a lesser valued reward type to a more valuable one.
Each consumer has varying wants and needs throughout their lifetime, and it is crucial to capture these changes through objective methods. Building a reliable database of knowledge about the workforce will also present countless opportunities to innovate, allowing HR to flex their curiosity and creativity muscles.
Several advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), especially in machine learning, predictive analytics, and adaptive learning, have brought personalization into each and every aspect of life. Smart personalization goes a bit beyond the simplistic, “based on others’ activities, you might find this interesting,” to the more relevant, “to achieve what you need to do, here is what you can use to improve your skills/abilities.” And organizations are beginning to see how smart personalization uses analytics to continually assess what is known about an employee, and constantly compares it with what is being learned.
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