Increased workplace personalisation is a growing trend. Companies will have to prioritise employee experience to attract the best talent.
Personalisation is everywhere. Netflix has just added a movie you might want to watch, your iPhone is managing screen brightness in response to your sleep habits, and the Nike store recognises you when you walk in, telling you whether the shoes you searched for last night are in stock and in your size.
As consumers, we welcome the personal touch. In fact, almost two-thirds of us now expect it. It doesn’t just make our lives more pleasant: researchers believe that personalisation helps us to reduce information overload.
Yet, for a long time, we were expected to turn off this desire for a personalised experience when we went to work. That is beginning to change, as employers realise that attracting and retaining the best talent means providing them with the right experience.
A growing trend for personalisation at work
The current wave of workplace personalisation arguably began a little over a decade ago with the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend. As more employees switched to smartphones to manage multiple aspects of their lives, so they became reluctant to switch to a different device when in work mode.
The next stage has been called ‘bring your own software’ (BYOS) or ‘bring your own app’, and it follows naturally from BYOD. Someone who uses Dropbox, for example, to manage their personal files, will naturally want to use it when it’s time to work at the weekend and they need to access information from a home computer.
However, personalisation goes beyond technology. As workspace shrinks, it becomes more important to allow workers to personalise the area around them, marking out a little territory in an open-plan office. Meanwhile, the benefits available to employees can be customised too, allowing employees to create a package that works for them.
Younger workers demand flexibility
There are good reasons for doing this. Research shows that employees who can customise their personal space are happier and more productive. Those who have some control over their working routines and more balance with their personal lives are less stressed and less likely to burnout. Finally, people work faster when using their own devices.
As new generations come into the workforce, they expect different things from an employer. Younger workers want flexibility and a better work-life balance. A personalised approach to technology and the workspace can quickly expand to a desire for an entirely personal working structure, particularly as the gig economy rises. Indeed, for many employees, flexibility is now almost as important as salary when it comes to taking a job.
A challenge for employers
Personalisation can be a complex challenge for employers, however. BYOD and BYOS have long presented a challenge to corporate IT departments, as they try to integrate multiple devices and platforms so that work can happen seamlessly, but also securely.
Meanwhile, too much personalisation, for example of digital learning tools and employee wellbeing initiatives can be dehumanising. The purpose of introducing new apps and online platforms to personalise our workplace experience should be to enhance our human interactions, not to replace them.
Personalisation at work isn’t a passing fad. Businesses competing for our attention and money as consumers will try to create ever more personal experiences, which will raise our expectations for how we should be engaged as employees. Better employee experiences will, in turn, raise expectations again. Companies cannot afford to take their employees’ experience for granted.
💡 Personalisation in the workplace is increasingly the norm.
💡 A generational shift in the workforce is driving the change.
💡 Properly considered, personalisation leads to happier, more productive workers.