Abandoning a one-size-fits-all mentality can lead to greater organizational success.
As the world navigates the changing landscape of work, the questions on most peoples’ minds are: “What does an ideal employee experience look like?” and “How do we design it?” But, perhaps, the attempt to find a single answer is inadvertently holding back organizations and their workers.
Consider the following: Do each of your co-workers want to come into the office the exact same number of days per week? How about your working hours—if you’re a morning person, energetic and ready for a meeting at 8 a.m., are your colleagues as well? What about your career plans—are they the same as your peers’?
Worker needs and aspirations are rarely identical. Perhaps that’s why society does a disservice to its organizations and workforce by treating the employee experience as one-size-fits-all.
Instead of trying to define the ideal work environment, ask:
- What would it look like to open the aperture on “ideal” and consider an individualized work environment?
- What if employers treat employees like individuals and design an employee experience that meets their unique, specific needs?
- What if the answer to an engaging, meaningful, and high-performing work environment isn’t one type of experience, but many different experiences?
The result would be a hyperpersonalized employee experience—and getting it right could be far less complex than it may seem.
What is the hyperpersonalized employee experience?Angela Cheng-Cimini, chief HR officer at Harvard Business Publishing, explains the hyperpersonalized employee experience in no uncertain terms: “Hyper-personalization is about addressing employee needs at an individual level,” she says in an article with Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning.
The hyperpersonalized employee experience involves tailoring rewards, benefits, work arrangements, and processes to an individual’s preferences and needs. It means treating each employee as unique and providing them with an experience that aligns with their personal goals and aspirations, which shows employees that the company values their talent and is committed to their growth and development.
Despite how critical a personalized employee experience has become for organizations and employees to succeed, many companies still struggle to deliver for reasons ranging from practical barriers to cultural challenges. Nevertheless, as technology makes personalization more feasible and effective, and as talent grows more confident and cogent in describing different needs, a greater share of organizations than ever before can (and should) get more intentional about the three dimensions of hyperpersonalization: a person’s sense of value, growth, and belonging at work.
ValueThe foundation of any hyperpersonalized work experience is a value proposition tailored to each person.
What does that look like, exactly? Consider employers providing employees with rewards and benefits that meet their individual preferences and needs in return for their capabilities and commitment to the organization’s success. The benefits could include flexible work arrangements; a culture of autonomy and trust; and customized offerings and packages, such as a variety of wellness programs, caregiving and family-friendly benefits, and financial services, that make employees feel valued and cared for.
When the employee-focused value proposition is consistent in how it comes to life in staff's daily work experiences, the benefits are significant: reduced compensation premiums; increased employee satisfaction; higher engagement and retention; and improved organizational performance.
However, employers face common roadblocks to personalizing value propositions, such as a lack of insight into employees’ needs, misaligned benefits, and low flexibility and autonomy. To overcome those challenges, companies should consider the following advice.
Increase the organization’s workforce intelligence. To identify employee preferences and needs, conduct regular surveys that ask staff for feedback on their work experiences, including rewards, benefits, work arrangements, and processes. Use that data to create a more personalized employee value proposition.
Furthermore, encourage managers to hold conversations with their direct reports on preferred work arrangements and processes. Managers should build in touchpoints with fellow people leaders to examine learnings and identify themes and opportunities.
Customize reward and benefits packages. Allow employees to choose from a variety of rewards and benefits options based on what works best for them. For example, organizations can offer a range of health insurance options or provide workers with a budget or health savings account.
Consider what flexibility means to staff. Employees often have different preferences when it comes to how and when they work. Employers must determine how to offer a wide range of work arrangements such as remote work, flexible hours, and job sharing, as well as where they can empower staff with a sense of agency over how they get their work done.
To ensure workers have the level of autonomy they need, companies must discourage micromanaging (through training programs or other measures) and leaders should demonstrate ideal behaviors.
GrowthWhen organizations tailor learning experiences and development opportunities to individual preferences and needs, employees can more effectively unlock their full potential at work.
Companies can make a personalized approach to growth come to life by:
- Assessing individual learning preferences
- Providing personalized feedback and coaching
- Offering a variety of learning formats and modalities
- Enabling employees to define their career journeys
- Creating mutually beneficial opportunities for growth by aligning and articulating why an individual’s growth is good for them, not just the business
Provide role clarity. Achieve clarity of each employee’s job responsibilities and expectations through regular communication between employees and managers, including feedback and goal-setting meetings. Employers can provide staff with straightforward, jargonless job descriptions as well as performance expectations that are customized to their roles—and grant employees both autonomy and the reasonable resources they need to define how they achieve their daily responsibilities.
Implement effective performance management processes. Effective performance management involves setting goals and objectives aligned with both organizational and individual goals; providing regular feedback and coaching; and recognizing and rewarding employee achievements.
Companies can also invest in performance management tools and technology that enable employees to track their progress and receive real-time feedback on their individualized performances.
Offer flexible career paths. Employers can enable employees to explore different roles and gain new experiences by providing flexible career paths and creating opportunities for job shadowing, mentoring, and cross-functional collaboration. Additionally, organizations can offer training and development programs that help workers build new skills and competencies to take on different projects or roles.
Further, managers can work with each team member to build a career development plan that outlines their goals and aspirations and provides a road map for how they can achieve them.
Use personalized learning tools and technology. Enhancing the personalized learning experience entails using tools and technology that are tailored to employees’ individual needs and preferences. That can include adaptive learning platforms that adjust to the learning pace and preference of individual employees, learning paths that enable workers to choose their own learning objectives, and mobile learning platforms that enable staff to learn in the flow of work.
BelongingA deep sense of personal connection at work can be difficult to achieve, but organizations can build a bedrock for employee belonging by hyperpersonalizing the employee experience.
Amid rising rates of loneliness among workers, a sense of belonging at work that’s personalized to an employee’s needs can offer several solutions and benefits, including improved individual job performance and business performance; enhanced creativity; higher employer promoter scores; and greater loyalty to the business.
Facilitate regular, open, meaningful, and constructive communication. Organizations can personalize the relationship-building experience by creating opportunities for regular and open feedback, communication, and constructive dialogue. Such support makes employees feel heard, valued, and respected, which, in turn, enhances their engagement and well-being.
Unhealthy conflict can arise due to differences in personalities, communication styles, work methods, and values. Companies must train managers to navigate such situations if they arise.
Champion inclusion through community. Providing employees with opportunities to connect with others who share their interests, backgrounds, and identities cultivates a sense of community at work. One way to personalize the relationship-building experience is by creating employee resource groups.
Provide access to human-centric technology. Options include videoconferencing tools, collaboration platforms, instant messaging technology, and social intranets that enable employees to connect, share knowledge, and collaborate seamlessly.
Revolutionize the employee experienceAs workers increasingly demand tailored work experiences that align with their personal aspirations and values, a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer sufficient.
By adopting an individualized approach to the employee experience, companies can attract, engage, and retain top talent; improve organizational performance; and show staff that they value their unique contributions.
Businesses that seek to remain competitive must consider how they can meet the unique needs of the workforce and empower each team member to reach their full potential.
Read more from Talent Development Leader.