From basic to advanced: 4 personalisation tactics that HR leaders are excited about

It’s time that your marketing department’s secret weapon is uncovered and brought over to HR. Long heralded as a way to boost sales, increase loyalty and cut through the noise in consumer’s lives, personalisation has become a major tool for marketers. But savvy HR and Internal Communication teams are putting personalisation to use too, saving money, increasing employee satisfaction and action, and shifting the balance of their time spent on operational vs strategic initiatives.

Personalisation is all about using available data and automation to provide individuals with a more customised and relevant experience. As consumers, we experience this on a regular basis. Think about the last time you logged in to your online banking – you probably had the option to view financial products curated ‘just for you’ or compare your savings and spending habits to ‘people like you’. Banks optimise personalisation to create a more concierge-like experience to win customers and also to increase sales.

HR leaders on the other hand, have any number of reasons to get behind personalisation and here is a shortlist of some of the most popular ways, in order of more basic to more advanced, that HR teams are making personalisation work for them:

  1. Email: This could mean using mail merge to personalise important emails. Best practice, however, includes personalising the content of the email as well. For example, if you offer employees a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), common practice would be to send a mass email nearing the yearend to remind all employees of the deadline to submit a claim. FSAs are a great form of personalisation on their own, and personalising the communication around them can help to maximise impact and engagement, such as reducing the average amount of points forfeited by employees in a benefit year – a negative trend that we see increasing in part due to infrequent or ineffective communication. Personalisation in this case would include an email that goes something like this: Dear Adam, Your Flexi spending account balance is $450 and you have 30 days left to use it or lose it! Click here to…  There are two elements of personalisation in this email – both the name and the account balance. The result? Adam is more likely to use his remaining balance, appreciate his benefits, be an advocate for the employee experience and he’s maybe even more likely to be just a bit healthier due to his FSA purchase.

  2. Video: Create personalised videos that better explain what benefits and policies mean to specific employees. Similar to email, this isn’t just about inserting someone’s name with a voice over but diving into their specific situation and needs.  For example, showcasing pension contributions and what that means for the employee’s retirement lifestyle – a topic that usually makes employees’ eyes glaze over. View an actual personalised video template created by Mercer here that clients are using to drive view rates (an impressive 65% of employees watched their video) and action (an equally impressive 45% of employees who watched their video clicked to take action).

  3. Benefits decision tool: By offering a personalized benefits decision tool, businesses can avoid costs associated with incorrect electives or irrelevant benefits. This not only saves costs but boosts employee engagement when it comes to important benefits available outside of salary. Recent research from Thomsons Online shows that good communication has as much impact as the benefits on offer - 77% of employees who received support from their employer to take action on their benefits said they would recommend their employer to a friend, as opposed to 25% who did not receive support

  4. Chatbots: Employees want easy access to on-demand information about the things that matter to them. (Q: Do we get Christmas eve off? Q: When is the next public holiday? Q: How many days of leave do I have left to take this year?) Chatbots are particularly helpful for onboarding, HR procedures and policies, benefits and seasonal information like open enrollment deadlines. Chatbots, as part of a broader personalisation strategy, are paving the way to help HR teams free up more time to focus on strategic initiatives and also to reassess the HR:employee ratio.

It’s important to define a personalisation journey that works for you. Start by considering available team resources, budget, technology inhibitors or enablers, employee demographics and so on. Next, prioritise which personalisation tactic is best to start with, define tangible outputs and what success looks like. Remember, bad personalisation (imagine receiving an email that is addressed to someone else?) is worse than no personalisation so planning, testing, and feedback are critical on the journey to a more personalised, automated HR and benefits function.

Marla Arnall
by Marla Arnall

Communications and Branding Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits

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