Personalization is everywhere. We no longer shop randomly; our preferences are cultivated for us based on our personalities, our prior shopping behaviors and the aggregate behavioral data of millions of people like us. Technology is everywhere and the ways we use data are becoming both smarter and more accurate at providing us with relevant, personalized contextual information.

“The recommendation should be personalized and actionable, and be focused on the best outcome for the individual.” Lori Block, Principal, Engagement Practice.

In the Winter 2017 publication of the Pension Investment Association of Canada, Lisa Sigmund and I (Lori Block) cover how data and technology are pushing human resources to utilize many of the same tools big online consumer companies use in order to identify, personalize, and effectively communicate with an ever-evolving workforce.

HR professionals are just like other corporate organizations: Our programs and initiatives need to be relevant to business needs, show meaningful engagement and offer a return on investment. In the era of data analytics, we can no longer implement programs or communications campaigns without the expectation of measurable results. Now, technology and data can help give HR those returns, and demonstrate benefits to the business. Personalization enables HR to deliver the right message, at the right time to the right individual via the right medium—and thereby boost the likelihood that the message is not only fully “received,” but more importantly, acted upon.

Marketing: It’s not just for consumer products companies

Analyzing the data based on audience segmentation such as generation, gender, location, etc., is a proven marketing approach used by retailers, but industry leaders such as Amazon and Netflix take that a step further and look at the individual buying history to make personalized recommendations.

While HR departments don’t have the same deep pockets that global retailers do, they do have one important advantage:  They have, at their fingertips, a rich set of employee data. By using this data, employers can address the employee more holistically, not from the silo of a specific program, but across their physical, financial and professional needs to create campaigns that engage each employee on a much more relevant level.

It’s marketing, just not in the way that makes you want to buy a new TV or home appliance!

Expectations Have Changed

If data is king, then technology is queen. Consider that today, typical 10-year-olds have their own cell phones. Technology at our fingertips is the new normal. Phones layer in the contextual data of knowing where you are, with the consumer data of knowing what you are interested in.

Personalized messaging to employees needs to do the same: analyze their data, make the recommendations, and then take them to where they can take action on those recommendations. A message cannot just be another “to do” added to their list but include an intuitive next step of how to achieve that. The recommendation should be personalized and actionable, and be focused on the best outcome for the individual.

Engaging employees on a holistic and personalized level enables them to realize the best outcomes, and thereby create a more present and productive workforce, which in turn generates improved organizational results.

Read the entire article, including the mini-case study “Putting Personalized Messaging into Action: One Employers’ Journey.”

Editor’s note: Lori Block, Principal & West Region Client Technology Leader, Engagement Practice and Lisa Sigmund, Director, Client Technology, Engagement Practice are frequent collaborators and guest authors on the HR Insights Blog.