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The Absurdity and Truth of The Office
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In a classic scene during the first season of The Office, the company oddball, Dwight Schrute, receives the task of choosing an inexpensive health plan. After ruthlessly cutting the plan to the minimum requirements and receiving much argument from the rest of the team, Dwight implements a survey where each employee must fill out his or her various ailments in exact detail.

When a handful of made-up diseases frustrate Dwight, awkwardness ensues when each employee is faced with owning up to his or her embarrassing health history, or risk losing the coverage.

While this episode provides ample opportunities for awkwardness, it illuminates the importance of apps oand portals in the office that could allow for just the right amount of personalization each employee requires in order to do her job to the best of her ability.

Creating consumer experience in apps or portals

It’s all about personalization! For human resources communications, the goal is to customize the communication to the end employee and allowing the employee to elect what type of communications they want to receive.

For example, your app or portal could include a ‘My Recognition’ Tab that is stored underneath your login. This section tells your employer who you are and what department you are in. Customizing this section to your preference will give your employer helpful information such as: whether the profile is private or public, which events you want to be recognized for — birthday, anniversaries, etc. Then, the next level of the section explores how you want to be recognized? Do you prefer money? Tickets to the Seahawks? Clothing?

This array of personal requests helps your manager to see what is going to be most meaningful for you. Personalization means creating customized recognition of your work, your successes in hopes of motivating each employee to do more, to do better, to replicate that behavior. Such an approach varies greatly from the standard approach of sending employees an endless amount of emails everyday that they have a tendency to tune out.

Apps and portals are about creating a customized filter for information so that the items with highest priority get displayed on the dashboard. People want internal network platform that feels like Facebook. These platforms function similarly to Facebook where you can create your own profile and reach out to employees and different departments. These platforms can be used to set up mentorships and to provide additional resources to accomplish goals and tasks.

Capturing the desires of employees

Personalization means a desire for the social aspect in apps and portals. Employees want to be able to communicate with other people within the company about challenges and tasks they are working on. For example, imagine a team working on a communication piece that has to be brand compliant. They need quick access within marketing to get answers about what they can and cannot do in relation to the brand. Quick and accurate access via that resource helps to produce the piece efficiently.

On the other side of personalization, there has been a push toward location-based applications where the application would notify its user of events she might be interested in depending on her whereabouts. Such technology, while reasonable, causes concern among some people. Employees aren’t going to want the company knowing where they are 24/7.  I think that millennials don’t really care about that. It’s the over 30 crowd that really cares.

Opt-in mechanisms could potentially solve this problem, and it could open the door for the highest levels of specificity. Before, it was taboo to ask a woman if she plans on having a baby even if such information would be helpful in customizing a benefit plan for that employee. Opt-ins that allow the organization to track everything, whether you are male or female, how old you are, what your medical needs are, whether you are planning on having a baby, or whether a child has any special needs. Such access provides specialized care focused for those needs. The company can’t help if it doesn’t know. The opt-in can point the person in the right direction.

Where analytics enter the conversation

When it comes to apps and portals, it all comes back to ROI. There are analytics tools that can be attached to anything from general usage to down-to-the-minute details.

Analytics can say, “these types of benefits questions are trending right now or this type of employee satisfaction information is popular.” Knowing the trends means you can react a lot quicker to employees’ needs.

To successfully operate in this environment, you need to have a team that is in charge of that information. Leadership also needs to care about it. There’s still a gap between perceived values of employee satisfaction to corporate profitability. The process works best when the company places enough emphasis on keeping its workforce happy.

You can use analytics to track pretty much anything. But, you need benchmarking. When a company wants to launch an initiative, it often doesn’t have enough concern about where it wants to be and what needs to be tracked to make sure it is successful. Set your benchmark to know what you are measuring.

Personalization and the ability to measure the information employees are willing to give allows for the best experience. Happy employees mean increased performance. Personalization doesn’t have to mean awkward conversations with employees like Dwight Schrute in The Office.

Photo by shaz wildcat

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About The Author
Chad Langford
Chad Langford is the Business Development Manager and a founding partner at Stepframe. Specializing in advertising, recruiting and online communication, Chad has over 13 years of experience in the development and implementation of digital applications and promotions for both internal and external audiences. Chad and Stepframe have completed projects from some of the largest corporations in the world such as HP, Honeywell, Expedia, Microsoft, Starbucks and T-Mobile. Prior to founding Stepframe in 2002, Chad spent five years as an Aviation Operations Specialist in the United States Army.

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