How To Improve Your Employee Experience with Employee Personas



Steve Bennetts
09/06/2019

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Create Employee Personas To Power EX Strategy

With HR teams looking to create more personalised, tailored experiences for the workforce, employee personas are becoming a popular tool.  

To equip you with the capabilities needed to leverage employee personas in your workplace - and drive business growth through improved productivity, retention, and engagement - we’ve outlined everything you need to know about employee personas in this article. 

You’ll find answers to the important questions:

  • What is an employee persona?
  • Why have employee personas?
  • How do I build employee personas?
  • How to use employee personas to improve the experience?

The answers provide you with the information you need to create employee personas helping you deliver breakthrough employee experiences.

Employee Personas

What is an employee persona?

An employee persona is essentially a semi-fictional representation of a group of employees with similar traits, experiences and behaviours. Employee personas are based on the data and insights you have into the individuals that make up your workforce.

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Employee personas are a useful way to build a narrative around different groups within the workforce, helping HR teams to get closer to their people and to design experiences tailored to meet their needs.

Why have employee personas?

To give an example of why employee personas are important, think about your own team. How many of your colleagues have the same career goals, expectations of the organisation, or behave in the same way? Now extend that across the entire business and it’s immediately clear how much differentiation there is across the workforce

Employee personas help you to design experiences around a handful of distinct employee types, making it much more efficient and cost-effective to create personalised experiences that are likely to resonate with employees. And this in turn often leads to a better employee experience.

How do I build employee personas

Employee personas can be developed in 6 steps:

1.  Gather feedback across the business

Most organisations choose to combine qualitative and quantitative research to build out their personas.

Begin with a listening strategy to gather feedback at scale. This allows you to take the pulse of the entire workforce, providing plenty of data to spot trends that will form the basis of your employee personas. 

Your employee listening program should link to your company’s strategic objectives, and focus on asking questions that focus on people’s goals, motivations and pain points. It’s also useful to collect insights at different stages in the employee lifecycle, This allows you to create a complete picture of the different moments that matter for different personas.

2.  Identify Potential Cohorts

Now you have the data, you can apply analytics to identify the most common pain points, expectations and behaviours.

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At this stage you should be able to see clusters of shared attributes. These are the foundations of your different employee personas, showing you the shared goals, motivations and pain points among different groups.

3.  Add demographic information

Once you know the different cohorts, it’s time to understand what demographics these groups share.

The most efficient way to do this is to link your survey tool with your HRIS. Doing so allows you to integrate experience data captured by your listening strategy with operational data, such as age, role, time in the company, training, and promotions.

Once your data is analysed, you’ll be able to spot commonalities between the cohorts in the previous step, adding more colour to your employee personas.

4.  Deep dive interviews

Conduct face-to-face interviews to supplement the data you’ve collected, and to explore further common trends and patterns you’re already noticing..

Based on your data so far, identify a handful of people from each cohort (try to include a diverse range of ages, role and seniority) and interview them to explore some of their answers in more detail.

5.  Bring it all together

Bring together data from all of your research to create a selection of employee personas. This is an important step that personifies the different cohorts and brings them to life for people around the organisation.

These typically include all the relevant information from your research, such as career goals, frustration, and expectations, as well as fictional details like name, back story and even a picture. All materials should be informed by your face-to-face interviews and should represent the cohort as a whole rather than mimicking just one person you interviewed in the process.

6. Validate your personas

A great way to make sure you’re on the right track is to validate your employee personas by sharing them with your employees to feedback on. To validate your employee persona you could survey the entire organisation again to see which personas resonate best, or you could create smaller focus groups and gather feedback.

How to use your employee personas to improve the experience

Employee personas are most effective when paired with an employee journey map.

Employee journey mapping gives you insight into the moments that matter most throughout the employee experience. By installing feedback mechanisms at these moments targeted at the employees it’s most relevant to - based on your employee personas - you build a better understanding of the actions you need to take to improve the employee experience.

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Developing employee personas are a powerful way to improve your employee experience. Employee personas help you to better understand your workforce and identify the actions that will have the biggest impact on engagement, productivity, retention and of course, deliver maximum impact back to the business.

To learn more about personas, access a complimentary copy of Forrester's May 2019 report, Create Employee Personas To Power EX Strategy.

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