Personalization: The Key to Employee Happiness
Before we go unlocking ‘employee happiness’, it’s important to understand what it looks like.
Happy employees are those who come to work everyday feeling energized and ready to get to work. They’re motivated, efficient and eager to exchange ideas and innovate within their job roles. They don’t mind challenging and pushing their boundaries in order to do better work. And they have a strong sense of belonging and loyalty. They care about their own and their company’s success.
These dream employees are not magical unicorns. They exist in companies that make their wellbeing a priority. Companies that put in an extra effort into getting to know who they are, their dreams and aspirations, understand their frustrations and difficulties and then put specific things into place to set them up for success.
Now imagine trying to achieve this level of personalization for each and every employee. Especially if you are hiring in the hundreds every month. Large companies and enterprises constantly struggle with employee happiness. With so many people to manage, many end up falling through the cracks leading to high attrition rates. Your employees will get demotivated or disengaged and leave before you even know what hit you.
So, how can you get to know each individual person and then go on to build a one-on-one, meaningful relationship?
The only feasible and sustainable way to do this is by bringing your Human Resource (HR) into the digital age. Technology is your friend and can help you create smart, effective and quick solutions to ensure employee happiness in the long term.
Isn’t employee happiness overrated?
Short answer? No!
Primarily because happy employees are good for business. There are enough and more studies out there to support this claim. According to a KPMG report, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by a whopping 147%. A study by IBM says that organizations that score in the top 25% on employee experience report nearly 3x the return on assets* compared to organizations in the bottom quartile. Oxford University's Saïd Business School found empirical proof that employees are more productive when they’re happy.
* ROA, a ratio of net income to assets, is used to evaluate how profitable a company is relative to its total assets.
Ok, so what do employees want?
The average employee today has grown up in a fast-changing, interconnected, tech-driven world. As biometric portals replace punch-in time cards and stacks of files become gigabytes on the cloud, workspaces are evolving in terms of what their employees need and want. Millennials make up about half of the global workforce and unlike the generations before them, they no longer work for just a paycheck.
With plenty of choices when it comes to jobs and having witnessed the shift in workplace cultures brought about by tech mega startups like Facebook and Google, for employees to stay with a company and give their best effort every day, they have to be motivated and nurtured consistently. They are no longer satisfied with just turning up to a job everyday. They need their unique needs and desires from their professional lives met. Whether it’s a sense of purpose, a chance to grow or maybe just work-life balance.
This is why personalization is your key to unlocking Employee Happiness and business success. It is that one thing that will help you build a relationship with your employees that goes beyond just being a job.
But tailoring personalised employee experiences for thousands of employees, often scattered across the globe, can be a slow, herculean task for even the most skilled HR managers.
Again, the solution lies in technology.
Your HR department can change the game completely by leveraging technology and creating personalised experiences for every single employee - future, present or past. Personalization is so powerful that it would be a missed opportunity if you don’t apply it at every stage of your employee’s journey - from candidate to new hire to employee to transitions to alumni.
Now that you’ve read this far, let’s delve a little deeper into how personalization impacts employee happiness at each stage.
Get candid with your candidates
During the recruitment stage, even before a candidate officially joins the organisation, HR gets access to a whole lot of information that is a veritable gold mine. But as always, it’s not so much about the data, but more about what you do with it.
If you use this information to start a line of communication that is tailored to each individual specifically, chances are you will have their attention. For instance, if a candidate is interested in sports, your HR manager can send him/her information about the company’s sports clubs, teams or events. If he is a parent and you tell him about your amazing in-house creche facility, he will think twice about joining your competitor who is still trying to sell him on team offsites. A personalized and customized candidate experience could essentially tip the scales in your favour and stop your future talent from shopping for any other offers.
It also means that when the candidate walks in on the first day as an employee, he is happy about his choice and raring to go. He knows that this is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
All onboard from Day 1
You’ve done the work to ensure your new hire is happy and excited to join your company. How do you ensure he stays that way?
The onboarding stage, of introducing a newly-minted employee into the company is arguably one of the most critical stages in the employee journey. It is when your new hire first gets to experience your company culture. But, this is also when HR managers have a lot of heavy lifting to do. It involves a lot of paperwork, coordination, compliance checks, background checks, IT setup, training sessions...the list is long.
It’s easy to forget about the new hire experience at this stage when you have your hands full dealing with cabin allocation. But lest we forget, Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report found that 37.9% of new hires left their organization within a year of joining.
The reasons for this usually are a lack of structure, unclear expectations, vague or no goal setting, inadequate training opportunities and a lack of connectedness with their new company. This holds especially true in a remote work environment.
This is why it is so important to free up HRs hands so they can prioritize the employee experience over everything else. Remember what we said about technology being your friend?
With access to HR solutions that can integrate your data, connect all the dots and create automated workflows you can create a seamless and personalized experience for your new hires with just a few clicks.
Not just that. The ideal personalization engine will let you reinvent the way you communicate with your new hires. We’re talking about bite-sized content - infographics, videos, flashcards that can make your company policies document or training manuals so much more engaging and interactive.
In addition to all this, regular pulse surveys and polls will give your HR managers access to valuable insights about how each employee is feeling. By identifying if a new employee is unhappy or disengaged, you have a chance to find a solution. Before the new hire’s discontent can turn into a resignation.
We know what we’re talking about. We helped Unilever reduce their first year attrition by over 65%.
Simplified, stress-free transitions
As an employee finds their stride within an organisation, they will usually explore new opportunities and ways to grow. A transfer to another location, a promotion, moving to a new department...these are all exciting milestones in his or her career.
But fact is, it’s almost like starting a new job and being onboarded all over again. Transitions are hard and it’s up to you as a company to make it as smooth as possible - both professionally and on a personal level.
Personalization at this stage should be easy considering you already have all the data you need. An employee who settles into her new role quickly will be able to hit the ground running.
For instance, an employee moving to a new location with family can be connected to others who can act as local contacts to help with renting houses and finding schools for their children. Or someone moving to a new department can be paired with a mentor or a buddy to show them the ropes in the new team.
By easily identifying potential needs or obstacles for someone undergoing a transition and preempting them with solutions, you have a stress-free employee who knows you’ve got her back. And she will have yours. Happy employees usually do.
Never say goodbye
An employee’s journey doesn't have to end once they leave your organisation. Rather, if managed well, ex-employees or alumni can be extremely valuable assets for years after their exit from the company.
Businesses have started to recognise the fact that a strong and engaged alumni network can be a great source for rehiring skilled employees, finding talent through referrals, building the company’s reputation and brand through positive word-of-mouth reviews and even enabling collaborations and partnerships between their old and new employers.
But to do this, it is important to keep your alumni network engaged.
A newsletter every now and then with company updates is most likely going to end up in the spam folder. Keeping in touch with a former employee should be more personal than that.
Your communication with your alumni can be customised by geography, designation or department. Some great examples can be found in Microsoft’s initiatives which allows its alumni to use their employee store and retail discounts, or at Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte that offer training workshops and access to networking groups.
Technology has made it possible to customise and personalise the full spectrum of employee experience like never before. With access to information, data, insights and feedback quickly and efficiently, it will be a big miss for HR to not use this to make every interaction along an employee’s journey, meaningful and enriching.
With everything from phones to employees getting smarter, it's time that workplaces and HR processes do so too and unlock happiness for every employee!
With the right tools, personalization is really quite simple.