Employees are increasingly expressing unique preferences for work-life balance, learning and development paths and how they're seen and recognized. As our workforce continues to become more diverse, we need to continue adapting our programs to meet the demands.
While offering personalized people programs can position you as a more attractive employer, providing this at scale can be a challenge. To share fresh ideas and inspiration for delivering personalized programs at scale, we hosted a webinar with our friends at Sapling. Our awesome panelists included:
- Anju Choudhary, Global Head of Learning and Development at NextRoll
- Vicki Ly, Operations at Second Measure
- Morgan Chaney, our own Senior Director of Marketing and Employer Branding Lead at Blueboard
Our panelists covered some amazing content which you’ll see in our recap below, and left us with these key takeaways:
- From Anju: “If you’re not intentionally including, then you’re unintentionally excluding - and that intention to include leads to more personalized experiences for your employees.”
- From Vicki: “It’s important to empower your employees, and the best way to do that is to allow them to exercise choice."
For more HR webinars, continue to stay in touch via our Resources page, and continue showing those who’ve gone above and beyond that their hard work is valued with Lift Up, our free recognition note builder.
How employers can craft a personalized employee experience
The idea of personalization is especially relevant today, as tens of millions of workers in the U.S. have become remote employees in the past three months due to the pandemic. With this transition, it has become clear that all employees have unique life circumstances, responsibilities and physical conditions while working remotely with home.
As employers, this presents an opportunity to craft a personalized experience for all your employees to make sure they’re feeling happy and fulfilled in their jobs. There are two pillars to keep in mind when crafting personalized people programs:
- Flexibility: To accommodate changing and unique personal needs and responsibilities; Over 50% of employees want more flexible work options and 84% of working parents rank flexibility as their #1 priority.
- Power of choice: To create the employee experience most meaningful and relevant to your individual needs and career goals.
In the next section, our panelists share program ideas they’ve rolled out at their own companies that touch on these two pillars.
Program ideas to deliver personalized experiences at scale
Below are some of our panelists’ favorite program ideas that span multiple categories - from learning and development to recognition - to deliver personalized experiences at scale.
Learning & development
Right now, many HR leaders are dealing with reduced budgets for learning and development (L&D). Instead of hitting pause on these programs, this is a great opportunity to come up with creative solutions. For example, instead of using third-party vendors, NextRoll asked its own leaders to speak on specific topics and create resource libraries for the rest of the organization. This scalable program saw a great response from employees since the leaders were able to customize the content specifically to the company’s priorities, culture and values - and it’s one NextRoll plans to continue even after the pandemic.
Similarly, at Blueboard, we’re giving all our employees the opportunity to speak, share or teach about any topics they have a passion for (from fitness classes to mindfulness, to the history of Pride). Not only is it an awesome opportunity for people who might not be in leadership positions to rise to the challenge, but it also helps them carve out their identity within the organization.
A few tips to strengthen your L&D programs:
- Keep them short. When employees are together in person, it’s much easier to host a two-hour long L&D session. But since most of us are still virtual, that length may be overwhelming for a video call. So consider dividing your L&D program into shorter batches to make them more digestible and engaging for your workforce.
- Allow flexibility. Don’t make your L&D programs mandatory. An important aspect of personalization is allowing people to opt in to the programs that are personally interesting to them - instead of being forced to join every single event that your company hosts.
- Create a shared language. Everyone is at different stages in their learning process. To encourage personalized learning paths for each employee and have a way to communicate about them, NextRoll introduced a common language and framework to help the team understand and identify comfort zones, learning zones, danger zones (pictured below). This empowers employees to lean into their learning instead of feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by where they are in their journey.
Social activities and community building
Whether it’s at home or in the office, there are ways to make your company’s social activities more inclusive and personalized for your employees. At Second Measure, they empower employees to choose the way they want to bond and build relationships. For instance, the company will offer a variety of team-building events to take place on the same date - everything from woodworking to ramen-noodle making to coffee tasting (as well as virtual experiences while we’re socially distanced). People can then choose the experience most meaningful to them and use it as an opportunity to bond with other employees with shared interests.
A few tips to strengthen your social programs:
- Increase accessibility. Especially now, as everyone is working on slightly different schedules, it’s important to be mindful of the time zones and hours that work best for your employees. Of course, it’s not always possible to accommodate everyone. So for those who can’t make the virtual events, it’s always helpful to share around a recording afterward in case people want to catch up on what they missed!
- Tie your activities to core values. You can strengthen your social programs even more by tying them to your company’s core values. At Second Measure, one of their core values is “Being Human.” This means recognizing and respecting the fact that everyone is their own unique individual - a core value that’s clearly embodied in the way the team is approaching their socially-focused programs.
Diversity, equity & inclusion
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs also offer an opportunity to introduce personalization by creating safe spaces for those seeking resources or conversation around life’s recent challenges, stressors or places of anxiety. At NextRoll, the company offers everything from town halls to support the BLM movement to ERGs like “Roll Deep” to curate resources, as well as external speakers to better understand and support DEI efforts.
At Blueboard, we’re also taking steps to create personalized opportunities to improve inclusion - from implementing more diverse hiring practices to participating in Ally Skills training.
A few tips to strengthen your DEI programs:
- Use surveys. NextRoll partners with Culture Amp to conduct inclusion surveys that show the company how they compare in terms of industry standards. The personalization comes in when they’re looking at the data and dissecting it in a way that tells stories of individual team members. Who are the employees who feel they have a voice? Who needs more support when it comes to being seen and heard? These are the types of questions that surveys can help answer.
- Take advantage of existing resources. Thankfully, we live in a time where there are many DEI resources available to us. Whether it’s bias training to improve performance management or education on how to be a better ally, there are a variety of tools and workshops to tap into. Some of our favorites resources and organizations shared during the webinar include: 1.) LifeLabs’ DEI playbook: a free resource to help companies take action and stand with their Black teammates. 2.) Frame Shift Consulting Ally Skills Workshop: a workshop run by Valerie Aurora that teaches simple everyday techniques to make your workplace more inclusive. 3.) ReadySet: a consultancy we’re partnering with at Blueboard to deliver a series of workshops to help educate our employees on DEI practices and Ally Skills training.
- Tap into creative ideas. Besides trainings and surveys, there are other creative ways to encourage more diversity within your organization. For example: host potlucks to celebrate the different nationalities represented within the company; incorporate diverse office decor from different cultures to broaden employees perspectives and inspire conversations; or consider supporting minority organizations or small businesses as a team.
Recognize and appreciate great work with personalized recognition and rewards
During these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to make sure your employees feel appreciated for their work. But a one-size-fits-all recognition program won’t get you far. Instead, consider taking a more personalized approach like the NextRoll team, who offers Blueboard experiences to celebrate “Rolliversaries.” Employees who reach a variety of anniversary milestones get the chance to browse and choose the experience most meaningful to them from a menu of curated adventures. They then work 1:1 with a dedicated Concierge team who handles all their booking and planning needs.
A few tips to strengthen your recognition programs:
- Give employees a choice. As we mentioned before, the power of choice is key when it comes to recognition. Our panelist, Anju, recalls that one of her colleagues from the People team received a Blueboard reward for her anniversary. She chose to take her kids to the museum as a family outing. Being able to choose this option was incredibly meaningful for her because, without the reward, the VIP museum tickets would have been unaffordable and time-consuming to book on her own. To this day, her kids still remember the fun day at the museum and the quality time they got to spend with their mom.
- Collect employee feedback. One of the benefits of a personalized recognition program is that you’re likely to receive a lot of positive employee feedback and stories in return. These can be collected and used to help build program awareness and your employer brand - whether that’s by turning the testimonials into a video montage or sharing photos across your company’s internal communication channels. These materials can show other employees just how personalized and authentic your recognition program is and are easy to bring to life via our integration with Slack.
There has never been a more critical time to demonstrate that you care about your employees’ personal needs, desires and motivators. If you’re interested in introducing a personalized recognition program to your company, we’d love to connect 1:1 with you (just request a meeting online here).
Stay tuned for more valuable webinars and upcoming events here on our Resources page - stay well, and we can’t wait to see you again online.