Hyper-personalising the employee experience

Hyper-personalising the employee experience

by Sophie Gane, Copywriter

‘Hyper-personalisation’ sounds like one of those phrases that you would hear on Top Gear and pretend to understand, while making a mental note to Google it later. What it actually refers to is “the use of data to provide more personalised and targeted products, services, and content”. Clear as mud?

What does this mean in the real world?
You’ve come across hyper-personalisation a lot, often in the form of advertising. As with everything in the online technology space, it’s retail and social media which is at the forefront of utilising hyper-personalisation in the public forum. You will have noticed Amazon’s ‘recommended for you’ section based on your buying behaviour (or the behaviour of others with similar data to you), or targeted Facebook ads which just so happen to show a commercial for something you recently Googled (through clever retargeting strategies). In fact, Facebook recently got a slap on the wrist for skewing their algorithms to push content towards you according to your political stance (by the way, it knows what your political stance is).

What does this mean for the workplace?

Here’s where we need to treat our employee experience in the same way as our customer experience. There are two approaches here that we need to consider:

  • The strive to satisfy the specific needs and preferences of workers (what’s in it for employers?)
  • The demand for employee empowerment through hyper-personalisation (what’s in it for employees?)

Individual employee experiences
Considering the first approach to hyper-personalisation, companies across the world hold a lot of data on their employees. Without straying into dangerous breach-of-human-rights territory as allegorised in a lot of recent popular fiction, this data can be used to develop the employee experience. When rummaging through an individual’s data and cross-referencing it with current trends, demographic tendencies, and influences of environment, employers can find out what an employee wants out of their workplace, down to the colour of the mugs. Providing direct responses to these demands is a kind of hyper-personalisation.

For example, workspace and environment can be significantly altered based on individual employee data. Even the most basic data you hold on someone can give you an indication of their environmental needs. If, for example, you employ someone who has a young child, is a one-parent family, lives a 50-minute commute from your office, and was recently off work with a short-term sickness, they may be more productive working from home, or making use of flexible hours, or it could be worth investing in a car parking benefit for them.

How do we implement this on a large, even global scale?
Ok, so that was a high-level example of an unusual situation. What about the thousands of employees who don’t necessarily need a change in environment, but demand a hyper-personalised employee experience? This is where employers need advanced people analytics software which can provide insights to your employees quickly, and in real time.

Data analytics are your friend
Say you have someone who is in an entry-level HR position. What if you had a platform with AI capabilities which informed that person that “if you take this course… if you go to this training day… if you watch this video… you’ll be well positioned to get XYZ qualification which will get you up to being an HR Consultant”. Luckily, what has already happened with this kind of technology is that it measures people’s behaviour as well as their demographic, and pushes content accordingly. The result is an employee who feels valued, who feels they have meaningful interactions with their employer, and who feels engaged and motivated.

Obtaining the data to start with
There are quite a few ways to obtain the information you need in order to provide the best data-driven employee experiences to your people.

  • Large-scale requests for input on certain subjects – particularly over social media – can give you a great insight into the wants and needs of certain demographics on certain topics.
  • Similar to crowd-sourcing but more targeted. Easy to manipulate, however.
  • Listening to employees, and listening generously. People offer information on themselves all the time. A quick perusal of Facebook shows that we live in a culture of oversharing. We’re not saying you should monitor and note down every single thing a person says, but people are willing to share, and you can find out what they want by just listening. On a larger scale, this could mean having team champions and a central place to store and manage employee feedback on a daily basis rather than the annual engagement survey.
  • Data needs to be available in real time, on-demand, and forward-looking (what can people achieve rather than what did they do in the last year…)

Digital natives and the hyper-personalised life
I didn’t choose the hyper-personalised life; the hyper-personalised life chose me. The second approach to hyper-personalisation is through employee empowerment.

Although implementing hyper-personalised 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-personalisation in their everyday lives, from Facebook, to grocery shopping, to even healthcare. It was, in fact, your (younger) employees who demanded hyper-personalised experiences in order to have authentic interactions with their employer. The ‘Amazon effect’ has brought these expectations into the mainstream, and now everyone wants them.

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Hyper-personalised reward and benefits
Why are they demanding this? Because hyper-personalisation allows for autonomy. The more you know about someone, the more empowered they feel. Weird, right? But it makes sense in a way; as we’ve discussed in many contexts, employees are becoming consumers of the workplace. The best talent out there know that they’re the best talent out there, and they can make demands. This is particularly relevant when it comes to what you offer as an employer in terms of reward and benefits. Hyper-personalising this aspect of your EVP will lead to a great employee experience.

If you have a huge range of benefits on offer, which caters for the wants and needs of a broad demographic, you are giving people autonomy in how they spend their own money. Rather than saying “you need to spend X-amount on pension and X-amount on healthcare”, your benefits programme can be sat in an intelligent platform which still offers everything to every employee, but is clever enough to make personalised suggestions, push relevant recommendations towards the employee, and steer them towards a healthy decision, while maintaining their autonomy.