3. Part One: The two distinct types of personalization.
First, there’s the experience you can develop for the employees at your company. It involves determining the company's mission, vision, values, principles, and routines as these directly relate to what it is like to be an employee at your company. They're often also a deciding factor for employees who might be picking between two companies to potentially join.
The other kind of personalization is the much more difficult but emerging one where employees want experiences specifically tied to them and their situations or needs. This type of personalization involves setting policies and programs around work equipment, location, and their employee perks.
Today’s employees are seeking both company and employee personalization because they know their situation, needs, and preferences more than anyone else and are discovering workplaces that will not only support them, but encourage them as well.
4. Part Two: How to craft a personalized experience for your company.
First and foremost, you can think of this personalization as having meaningful alignment with your company’s culture which separates your company’s experience from other company’s. While a culture isn’t the only reason a person chooses to join your team, it is a big part of the decision-making process. People want to work for companies that have a mission and vision that speak to them, values that align with their values, and something they can be proud to spend their time on. After all, people are spending more time at work than in previous generations, and a lot of people are now deriving their purpose from their work.
You can see this evolution of the role and importance of work in a person’s life by peering into the many discussions happening online today around “work/life balance” versus “work/life fit” or whether fellow employees should act as a “team” or act like a “family.”
Ways to personalize your company:
Mission and vision: While many people would consider this table-stakes for company’s today, having a clear and compelling mission and vision for a company is one what differentiates it from other companies. It’s what brings employees in to join you on the journey, customers into work with you, and potential investors or strategic business partners in to support you. Without it, there's no way for people to understand why you exist in the first place.
Values: Values are meant to act as the traits which the employers want to see out of employees, and employees can expect from other employees. Companies will promote, hire, and fire people based off of how well or not well employees embody these values. While values can be similar from one business to the next, it’s unlikely that any two are alike - making the experience for employees unique from company to company.
Principles: Principles, as defined by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, are rules or laws that are permanent, unchanging, and universal. If values are the heart of the organization and dictate the standard set of traits employees should live by, principles are the veins that carry blood throughout the body and to and from the heart.
Principles are the real version of “the way we do business around here” and if not stated explicitly can emerge by accident than through proactive planning. If purposefully planned, they can act as guideposts for decision-making. Team members can derive more autonomy from their role if they understand the underlying principles or operating systems of the team. Without them, it’s easy for traditions, habits, and perspectives to bubble up and become the fabric of the team. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on what bubbles up.
Either way, a clear set of principles is essential for any team looking to scale well and to guarantee everyone is on the same page as to operating methods.
If you don’t have them yet, consider bringing together a few team members to develop them. Or if your team is small enough, get everyone in a room to discuss.
Mark Kilens, VP of HubSpot Academy at HubSpot, wrote this about developing and leveraging the Academy's team principles:
“I also lead an effort to develop a set of principles that act as the guardrails for how we work and what we believe in. These principles drive a lot of Academy’s success. Drafting and defining the principles with other team members is important. Depending on the team’s size, you might do it with the whole team or with different groups within the team.
It’s all about encouraging your team to feel like they have true ownership of the principles and that they’ve had a voice in developing them. We use our team principles for hiring, training, ongoing coaching, and to provide people with immediate feedback.”
A few of the Academy team’s principles include:
- Provide outstanding customer service. Make the customer your number one priority. You ensure that customers leave every interaction feeling good about their experience.
- Create a consistent learning experience. Pay attention to the details. You provide a consistent framework for customers by using the HubSpot Academy Operating System.
- Always be learning. Never stop thinking. Your eyes and ears are always open; everything and everyone gives you an opportunity to learn.
- Stay weird. Be yourself. :)
If you’re a manager reading this, you can follow all of the items above and tailor it to your team. Just as manager Holly Stevens had done, she developed a team name for pod at work and began to use that to define the why and how of how their team operates. You too can come up with team values, principles, and an origin story; it's how subcultures begin.
5. Part three: How to develop a personalized experience for individual employees.
There are many different types of personalization for employees. The goal here isn’t to create a one-off individual experience for every single employee but instead develop policies or principles that your employees can take advantage of to create something which fits their unique experience.
Before we dig into the list of types of personalization below, it’s important to know where to start. If you don’t have any data on the topic, now might be a helpful time to gather some.
Collecting feedback on the current state of the company whether it’s through a tinypulse, eNPS survey, or conversations one-on-one with managers - there needs to be a benchmark developed, as well as enough information to understand where the most significant opportunity lies.
The ideas below might seem easy and leave you feeling like you could boil the ocean in a day, but as any high-quality people operations professional knows - it’s about listening to the team and the data first, crafting a quality plan second, and thirdly, communicating it well.
Below are some of the programs or policies a company can set-up so that their team can personalize their perk experience:
- Personalize work equipment: Instead of giving every employee the same computer, monitor, keyboard, and mouse - develop a tech budget or hardware program where employees can buy what’s best for them and their productivity.
- Personalize work software: As more B2B software begins to introduce a B2C element, more and more people can try out and adapt software they love for their everyday use. Where this gets sticky is when a person falls in love with Grammarly, Smartsheet, or Evernote and wants to use it to improve their productivity or quality of work. Companies can help employees use the software tools that best fit their needs.
- Personalize work location: Coinciding with the shift in the type of work brings a lot of questions about where we work. Where we once needed to be on-site or “at the office” today, everything is online allowing us to find spaces or places for us to be productive for the type of work we’re doing that day or in that moment. Companies are beginning to adapt by allowing people to change not only their desk locations in the office, but by building out new and improved spaces that accommodate all types of work styles from collaborative to quiet and focused. If your workspace doesn’t allow for that, develop a policy where employees have the trust and freedom to work from wherever is best for them and their work. Some days it might be quiet at home, whereas others it could be in the office amongst the team, and lastly - maybe they need the quiet combined with a bit of bustle that they can find from the local coffee shop.
- Personalize work hours: Referred to in a recent HBR article as:
- Personalize work perks
- What perks they receive
- What benefits they receive
The not-so-distant-future might include personalized compensation packages.