Personalisation in 2023: How the Employee Experience Will Be Impacted by Increasing Personalisation at Work across Asia-Pacific
"What we realised is that we can't design a programme without involving our employees. All of our organisations' initiatives are crafted in partnership with our employees," said Rashmi Raghuraja, Senior HR Consultant at SAP India, during one of our Top Employers Inspire sessions.
This partnership with employees in crafting employee experiences is synonymous with achieving a more personalised approach. This particular trend of involving employee groups in the design of the organisation and work can be seen in 87.6% of Top Employers in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2023, companies of all sizes are actively competing to not only attract and retain top talent but also to cultivate a work culture that empowers employees to unleash their full potential, and this is synonymous with the emphasis on involving employees in shaping their experiences.
Recognising that employees are the heart of any successful company, businesses are embracing a collaborative approach to work. The inclusion of employees in shaping various initiatives not only boosts engagement but also results in a more compelling and meaningful work environment. While competitive salaries and benefits remain fundamental, the emphasis is now on fostering a culture of co-creation, where employees feel valued and have a sense of ownership in the organisation's progress. This paradigm shift marks a critical evolution in the way companies view their workforce, placing employee well-being and fulfilment at the core of their strategies.
A Paradigm Shift in the Post-Pandemic Workplace
In the post-pandemic world, a period of reflection has allowed employees to identify what truly matters to them. In response, employers have been compelled to become increasingly innovative in their efforts to attract, develop, and retain their top talent. As the employee experience takes centre stage as a critical differentiator, personalisation emerges as the key to its success.
Notably, one of the most significant trends in the APAC region is the substantial growth in employee involvement in engagement action plans, rising to an impressive 84% compared to 75% in the previous year (2022). This means that employees are actively participating in the development of action plans through engagement in employee focus groups and sounding boards. Moreover, they are regularly consulted to ensure alignment on progress and ensure the plans' effectiveness and relevance to their needs and aspirations. This trend underlines the growing importance of involving employees in decision-making processes, allowing them to contribute their insights and ideas actively. In doing so, organisations in the APAC region are striving to create a work environment that truly resonates with and supports their valued employees.
Personalising the employee experience means understanding and catering to the unique needs, preferences, and aspirations of each employee. It involves tailoring well-being, training and development opportunities, work environment, and work-life balance to suit the individual. As observed in the World of Work Trends Report 2023, personalisation has become a necessity for organisations that want to create a productive workforce. And the role of digital and technology cannot be understated as it uses intuitive tech to personalise the experience. Our research among Top Employers worldwide shows that the Asia Pacific is leading the way in digital personalisation, with significantly wider implementation of practices, compared to the rest of the world.
What are the benefits of emphasising personalisation at work?
The personalisation of consumer needs has been a challenge for organisations for some years, and now employees expect to be treated as "internal" customers. The rise of individual employee needs will have much further to run in 2023 – what has been until now been "people-centric" will become "person-centric". As such, organisations have been able to see a positive relationship between this personalisation and their employees ' experience of work.
We've seen a couple of examples of some of our Top Employers in Asia using personalisation to great effect in the workplace:
- Global and Regional Asia-Pacific Top Employer Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), for example, created a platform called Xcelerate – a career guidance management platform that generates a personalised learning path based on an employee’s current skill sets and desired career trajectory. The platform provides career insights, including learning paths of employees in desired roles, competency gap analysis, and engagement indexes.
- SABIC, certified as a regional APAC Top Employer, uses a platform called Percipio that uses AI to personalise the learning experience of employees, as well as improve the individuals' efficiency and effectiveness of the learning process.
Top Employers are not personalising employee experience just for the sake of it. Personalising the employee experience offers a diverse array of benefits that span various aspects of the organisation:
- Personalisation helps organisations create a positive work culture. By prioritising the unique needs of each individual employee, organisations foster a culture of belonging and inclusivity. Organisations that personalise their employees ' well-being and communication efforts will be able to see a noticeable improvement in their overall company culture. That is because employees who feel seen and appreciated are more likely to stay with the organisation and refer others to join. This can help reduce turnover and recruitment costs while also improving the quality of candidates. Employee involvement plays a pivotal role in personalisation, as the more involved an employee is, the more personalisation can be tailored to certain programs. There has been a noticeable trend among Top Employers in the APAC region, who have 72% of employees involved in designing well-being initiatives, as opposed to 58% in 2022. This trend reflects the growing emphasis on personalisation in the workplace, as organisations recognise its positive impact on employee satisfaction, wellness, and retention.
- Another benefit of personalisation is increased employee engagemen This is especially important as many organisations struggle to keep engagement rates high as they find new ways of working after the upheaval of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Prioritising employee experience is relevant for all companies because when employees feel seen, heard, and valued, they are more likely to be invested in their work and the organisation. Engaged employees are also more likely to be motivated, productive, and willing to go above and beyond for the company. This can lead to higher quality work, increased attraction of new employees, and increased retention of talented employees for prolonged periods.
- However, it's concerning that less than 50% of Top Employers in the Asia-Pacific have an employee listening strategy in place, despite its crucial role in fostering a culture of openness, trust, and employee empowerment. Implementing an effective employee listening strategy is essential for organisations to understand their employees' needs, concerns, and aspirations, enabling them to make informed decisions, boost engagement, and drive long-term success.
- Another benefit of personalisation is improved performance management. Personalised feedback and coaching can help employees identify areas for growth and development, leading to improved job satisfaction and career growth. By personalising training and development opportunities, organisations can also help employees acquire the skills they need to succeed in their roles, leading to improved job performance. This is seen as an important factor for Top Employers in Asia, where 83% of Top Employers' performance management approach allows for variation in philosophy, process, and timing to cater to the needs of different target audiences and/or business needs – recognising the need for personalisation of performance management.
- Lastly, another benefit of personalisation is an improved sense of autonomy for the employee. Personalising an employee's ability to choose where they work from, whether that is fully from home, always in the office, or hybrid, allows employees to feel that their organisations trust them to do their best work. That feeling of trust is important as it allows employees to feel as though they are not only a part of a company but rather that they are a trusted member of the organisation. Additionally, allowing employees to personalise their work schedule gives employees a chance to work when they are at their best rather than the traditional 9-5.
What makes for a great personalised experience for employees?
When it comes to increasing personalisation at work, we can see that certified Top Employers are leading the pack. If we look at how Top Employers personalise the employee experience, the answer is clear. They embrace conversations with employees and allow them to choose and shape their experiences. Personalisation is used most prominently in the evolution of flexible working practices, including remote and hybrid working, in Top Employers' offerings in well-being, compensation & benefits initiatives. And in the development processes, especially careers, onboarding, and leadership development.
The growing availability of a highly digital employee experience creates the opportunity for a far greater degree of personalisation. This personalisation does not need to start from when the employee is hired, but for many organisations, it can incorporate personalisation from the talent attraction stage.
How technology and digital tools can assist in personalising the employee experience.
The widespread use of technology is being put at the service of employees, with the data it provides used to act and improve each employee’s experience. IT systems used by organisations must be designed around the needs of employees if it is to contribute positively to their experience. In 2023, 89% of Top Employers in Asia Pacific conduct regular assessments of HR technology (compared to 83% globally), and 83% of Top Employers in APAC are personalising their HR technology (compared to 78% globally). There should be regular assessments of HR technology to make sure that any features that remain unused or do not contribute to the user experience are removed, with employees given the power to self-manage, control, and edit their environment based on their preferences.
Technology is being leveraged to collect and analyse data, enabling organisations to act and enhance each employee's journey. Top Employer SABIC exemplifies this by utilising AI to create personalised HR technology experiences. To learn more about how SABIC uses AI to optimise employee experiences, check out the dedicated article on this topic.
While technology and digital HR are key drivers of personalisation, neither of them provides a guarantee of a great personalised employee experience. Organisations and their leaders, along with individual employees, will still need to define a clear vision for the role of digital HR for the whole organisation. We can already see this for certified Top Employers as 78% of them have a vision of the role of digital HR in the overall employee experience.
When the vision and direction are clear, the hard work on the employee experience begins. Organisations will need to go through the employee's entire journey map, from the latter's perspective. In 2023, we will see a commitment to detailed employee journey mapping in order to leverage the employee experience.
Employee journey mapping is a valuable tool for continuous improvement. It highlights all the touchpoints and experiences an employee will go through, designed from their subjective experience, alongside the information the organisation collects from various channels. The aim is to trigger a process of continuous improvement at every stage and across an employee’s digital and non-digital experience.
How Top Employers around the world are prioritising digital personalisation.
Our research among certified Top Employers worldwide shows that the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions are leading the way in digital personalisation, with significantly wider implementation of practices, compared to the rest of the world. This fits with other more widely available data showing an accelerated investment in digitalisation when compared globally.
There have been two factors at work here. Firstly, in the drive to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic, many businesses adopted digital technologies rapidly, effectively creating a digital "Big Bang". Secondly, for a young and tech-savvy workforce, the expectation of a flexible and personalised digital experience has become a priority for their everyday employee experience.
Personalising the employee experience will be crucial for organisations worldwide in 2023. It helps create a happy and engaged workforce, a positive work culture, and improved performance management. Organisations that invest in personalisation will have a better chance of attracting and retaining top talent, driving innovation, and achieving long-term success. In 2023, the Asia-Pacific region will witness a surge in personalising the employee experience, with certified Top Employers leading the way in embracing collaborative approaches and involving employees in shaping initiatives. Leveraging digital technologies, such as AI-driven solutions, companies like Tata Consultancy Services and SABIC are tailoring learning paths and optimising HR technology to cater to individual needs. This employee-centric approach yields benefits like a positive work culture, increased engagement, improved performance management, and a sense of autonomy. To succeed in this transformative era, organisations must define a clear vision for digital HR's role and focus on detailed employee journey mapping for continuous improvement.
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