Have you ever been in a restaurant when one of the regular customers walks in? Not only does the waitress know his name, but she knows his order too, personalizing the customer experience. Is there any doubt in your mind that this is a loyal customer, that he will eat at the restaurant again or that he’s highly likely to recommend the restaurant to others?
This scenario isn’t exclusive to the restaurant industry. Businesses in all industries have always known the importance of providing high-quality customer service. Companies have now come to realize what waitresses have known for decades – that personalized services build loyal customers. In fact, in a recent survey, 77 percent of companies surveyed believe that providing real-time personalization is crucial to business success.
Lack of Employee Engagement
Unfortunately, many of the same businesses that have found success investing in personalized services for their customers have failed to apply these same principles to their employer-employee relationships – and it shows. According to Gallup, the rate of employee engagement has steadied around 32 percent for more than a decade, despite the fact that employers together are investing more than $720 million a year on employee engagement.
While it seems clear that employers understand that there’s a disconnect between them and their employees, their investments to date have done little to improve employee engagement. Perhaps, the piece missing in the employee experience is the same factor that drives customer loyalty – personalization.
How to Personalize the Employee Experience
Unfortunately, personal relationships aren’t built overnight – just ask the waitress. Instead, it takes time, a commitment, and ability to connect with the other person. There are steps, however, that employers can take right now to add personalization to the employee experience.
Building a relationship is a two-way street. You cannot expect your employees to take a vested interested in what you have to say if you don’t listen to what they have to say. Take time to really listen to your employees and value their input.
Your employee’s first-hand knowledge of working with customers, working with the machinery or working with third-party vendors can provide you with a different perspective that may influence positive change within the workplace.
Regular listening sessions, reverse performance reviews and pulse surveys are great ways to show your employees that you’re willing to listen.
Employees want career advancement. In fact, a recent study ranked lack of career growth as the number two driver of voluntary turnover. The facts show that employees will leave a company if they see no advancement opportunities. While many companies understand this demand and offer career growth opportunities from within, very few are personalizing this process.
Rather than send out internal memos related to job opportunities within the workplace, what if your company took the personalized approach instead? What if rather than wait for employees to come to you, you proactively take steps to grow and develop your staff based on their skills, performance and experience.
When done correctly, employee recognition can be one of the most effective ways to personalize the employee experience. The big question is – “Are you recognizing employees the right way?” First and foremost, employees want fairness and transparency. If both of these components are not at the core of your employee recognition program, it could have the reverse effect.
Your company’s employee reward and recognition program should recognize the personal accomplishments of your employees and, in turn, boost employee engagement. It’s important to develop a well-defined recognition program that is understood and followed by all levels of management.
For decades, employers have relied on annual performance reviews to provide feedback to their employees. While individuals names may be on each performance review, in most cases, this type of feedback is far from personalized.
In many cases, these annual reviews are little more than a supervisor trying to complete a stack of performance reviews before the deadline and then spending a few minutes, if that, while each employee reads over the review. Rarely, do these reviews give the employee an accurate look at their performance, either good or bad, on a daily basis.
Real-time employee feedback can solve this problem, and guess what – employees want this type of feedback. Real-time feedback gives supervisors and management the ability to immediately compliment an employee for a job well done or immediately point out underperformance when necessary. What’s most important is that immediate feedback personalizes the experience by providing specific feedback in reference to specific actions.
The process of personalizing the employee experience must start from the top down and include all layers within the company. This will help to personalize the employee experience and boost overall employee engagement rates within the workplace. Much like the customer at the restaurant, personalization has the power to build loyalty among your workers. Loyalty, in turn, can spur higher retention rates, improved productivity, increased employee referrals and better employee morale and job satisfaction.