Personalization is everywhere, from clothes that are selected for us and delivered to our homes, to the ads we see, to the movies we stream. It’s no surprise that employees expect that same level of curated experience in the workplace. And yet, evidence abounds to the contrary. The proverbial black hole of recruiting is still the bane of existence of everyone who has applied for a job online and has heard nothing back. Companies still tout “self-directed career advancement” as a positive quality while employees don’t even know what opportunities may be available to them and long for guidance and support. Benefits departments offer subsidized childcare, while offering pet insurance would be more beneficial (and less costly!) for a forgotten portion of the employee population.
With all of the data available to companies about applicants and employees, there is no reason that bespoke employee experiences shouldn’t be the norm. By 2024, personalization capabilities in HCM systems will allow three-quarters of organizations to benefit from recommendations that make the employee experience more meaningful, satisfying, and productive. Still, many companies struggle to move beyond categorization, applying broad strokes based on data points like current job family, title or even affinity group. It’s a good starting point, but in order to be truly personalized, content must be delivered based on a user group of one. For that to be scalable and realistic, personalization must be automated. Further, a critical evaluation of the current tech stack is required to determine if that capability even exists and, if so, how best to go about including it in all aspects of the employee life cycle.
The benefits of a personalized experience go far beyond the altruistic “right thing to do.” It stands to reason that employees who feel like their needs and wants are being listened to and addressed will be more engaged, and countless studies have shown the direct correlation between engagement, performance and retention. Furthermore, managers who are provided with specific, actionable insights for individual employees will be much better equipped to guide, direct and coach their team members than when left to their own devices, or guided by generic management-training curricula. For example, imagine the power of the conversation when a manager has a weekly check-in with an employee and says, “I noticed you’ve been taking a variety of courses related to cyber security. Is that the route you’d like to go with your career? Because if so, I think you’d be great at it. Why don’t we work together to develop a plan to help get you there?” That would be far more impactful to the employee than a generic, “Everything’s great and I think you’re awesome.” Even if the feedback is positive, it stops short of being truly personal and will be much less likely to be an engagement someone remembers or shares. That is, unlikely to promote the talent brand. And if those insights are delivered to the manager as an insight from the tech, it doesn’t even cost them any additional time.
Employee expectations of the workplace have shifted dramatically in the pandemic era. Employees expect their employers to regard them as individuals, and to support their whole selves, not just their work personas. Using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate the curation and delivery of content and experiences for employees is an imperative and a game-changer. When evaluating HCM tech providers, it’s important to fully explore their current and road-mapped capabilities in this arena. That said, HR leaders must take care not to completely remove human contact from the employee experience, and they shouldn’t need to if they don’t view personalization as a cost-saving exercise alone. With their resources freed from time-consuming, manual, transactional activity, they must now focus on value-add activities that can’t be accomplished with systems alone but will bolster employee experience and talent brand. Personal benefits conversations, sensitive discussions related to career growth or leaves of absence, and building relationships with candidates and hiring managers are all examples of HR conversations that will build trust and that cannot be accomplished with a bot.
Savvy organizations know that engaged employees tend to be more productive and more likely to stay. It’s the exact same principle as providing the best experience and journey for your customers so they will buy more and renew their contract. If they want that “buy more, stay longer” behavior from employees, they should start treating them like customers. Businesses would never dream of delivering generic content to customers or prospects with the vague hope of something resonating. Market data segmentation for custom content has been the norm for decades. Within the world of HCM, both the technology and relevant data points exist to curate the experience for employees from hire to retire. Employees expect a consumer-grade experience. Faced with labor shortages and financial pressures that don’t look to be easing anytime soon, it’s time for employers to put their data and tech investments to use to personalize the employee experience, taking yet another step toward de-commoditizing the workforce.