The Trend Of Hyper-Personalization In HR

Sandeep Chanana, APAC HR BP, Change Management & HR Transformation, Rakuten (TYO: 4755)

Sandeep Chanana, APAC HR BP, Change Management & HR Transformation, Rakuten (TYO: 4755)

The Current Workplace

Look around you, imagine a time about 5 yrs back. What difference do you notice? Do you see individual cubicles, wired personal telephones, mandated uniforms/formal attire, or even a fixed schedule for work?

Well No. Maybe still a Yes for a few, though it won’t take long to change.

There is an exponential shift in our workforce. Four generations of workforce in the same office today.

1. First and foremost, as the lines between our professional and personal lives blur, we increasingly look for convenient and engaging experiences, we have outside of work to be replicated inside our workplace.

2. Then there’s the trend of ultra-cool workplace designs, which organisations are increasingly using to attract and retain talent.

3. Lastly, workplaces are becoming more transparent than ever. Employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor can make or break a brands’ success.

To succeed in this new age of employee experience and expectations, personalisation is a key. But how do you deliver personalisation at scale, especially when you have a diverse range of unique needs to meet?

Personalisation in the Industry

Netflix is a good example of a big brand that uses big data analytics for targeted advertising leading to Hyper- Personalization of content. With over 100 million subscribers, the company collects huge data, which is the key to achieving the industry status Netflix boosts.

"To succeed in this new age of employee experience and expectations, personalisation is a key"

As a subscriber, we are familiar with the suggestions for the next movie you should watch. Basically, this is done using past “search and watch” data. This data is used to give them insights on what interests the subscriber most.

Netflix has created its ecosystem. It licenses content, distributes that content, and owns the platform on which that content gets consumed, and as a result, it can access and use consumer data to drive success across its entire business. Its pipeline, in short, is vertically integrated.

They use the analytics to know the customers: what their every customer watches? How much time do they spend watching? What content do they view? What is the Location of the users? What time do you watch the content? How many times you do pause the content? Which content you fast forward and watch? Which content you repeatedly view?

Spotify, on the other hand, while following a similar approach to Hyper-Personalisation in the music genre, is going a step ahead. It is tying up with Ancestry to bring you DNA Curated music

Spotify and Ancestry’s custom playlist generator will choose a range of songs reflecting the cultural music of users’ heritage based on where their ancestors came from. HR & Personalization

The digital HR revolution shows no signs of slowing down, but HR professionals must remember not to lose sight of the human touch. There are critical points throughout the recruitment process when only the human touch will produce the most desirable outcomes. Technology doesn’t possess intuition. It will give you the edge, but it’s how humans use it that creates the best outcomes. That’s why it’s called ‘human resources.’ We never lose sight of the fact that it’s all about people.

AI augmentation will be the key here – a combination of artificial and human intelligence will produce the best results for HR departments. AI tech, such as chatbots, are proving to be useful along the way, especially when it comes to keeping costs down, but they can only guide candidates, the human element is needed for in-depth assessment and decision making.

Likewise, when human resources personnel are looking to improve the candidate (or employee) experience, the technology will be there to provide the analytics and manipulate the data, but it is up to the decision-maker to use the insights provided to create an action plan that makes it all happen.

Personalization and customization

Katie Sweet defines this in a very subtle way “Personalisation defined: what is personalisation?”, and she states that it is,

“The act of tailoring an experience or communication based on information a company has learned about an individual.”

Personalisation warrants a modification in end-user experience, without any special effort by the customer (or employee), While customisation warrants the change being done by the customer (or the employee) without the intervention of the organisation.

“Hyper-personalization takes personalized marketing a step further by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time data to deliver more relevant content, product, and service information to each user.”

Segmentation & personalization: The difference

Employees are Customers and need to be treated that way. Treating them as individuals and not as part of a group or segment is and should be a long-term trend worth looking at. The way organisations deal with employees is still far behind the way organisations deal with clients, and that is the fact that we in HR need to change.

Today the segmentation in People Analytics is based on Male vs. Female, Diversity, Age Groups, Young vs. Old, Gen X /Y/Z, Managers/non-managers, etc. With big data analysis and with sophisticated algorithms, it has become easier to detect and predict individual preferences of employees, and organisations can act on the insights with tailored programs and interventions.

Hyper-Personalization for Human Resources

Compensation & Benefits

There are few companies breaking taboos in this space. We have Buffer, Glitch & Starbucks doing something extraordinarily different by openly talking of employee salaries in previously unthinkable ways. Why? To bring in more transparency between diversity, to be more open to employees as part of the culture, and to ensure a fantastic employee experience.


Recruiting based on specific jobs is on the way out. The trend is to look for people who have future proof capabilities, are open learners, and have a culture fit in line with the company’s values.

How would it be if candidates can define problems for your company and design their jobs, as the general thought process in a “Hackathon” is.

Would an approach to Job crafting work?

Allowing employees to reframe their work, physically, socially, and cognitively and also making sure there is a good match between the capabilities, wishes, and needs of employees and the assignments that are given to them? Worth a thought?

Internal Communications

Internal communications have not kept pace with the trend towards personalisation. Many companies still operate with an outdated one-size-fits-all strategy for internal communications that convey indifference to the individual needs and concerns of their most valuable resource: their people. And yet, in our private lives, we would feel hugely disappointed if our favourite clothes brand treated us as one of the masses.

Hitting send on one mass email is not a strategy. When every other form of communication someone receives is personalised, internal communications quickly becomes irrelevant when it isn’t. And the last thing a communications team wants is for their message to be ignored.

Tech usage in this area is still primitive. There are opportunities in having an extremely hyper-personalized communication option during pre-onboarding, Onboarding basis all the data you may have collated about the individual during your hiring process. Then having a direct approach towards learning and communicating When, how, where, what time of the day to ensure that the employee is not burdened with a “one size fits” communication style.

The power has most certainly shifted to the receiver of communication. How to make it most effective is obviously through gathering and analyzing data.

Today it is easy to find out the preferred communication channels for each of our employees. If you want to communicate effectively, as management or as organisation, you have to find ways to tap into these preferred channels and to adapt the way the message is communicated to the different channels.

Learning & Development

The “one size fits all” solution still runs, be it in the way Onboarding is done, to having managerial/individual development programs.

The learning needs of employees are different, as well as the learning styles.

Most learning takes place on-the-job, and learning is a continuous ongoing process now rather than a pre-defined yearly schedule for budgeting.

Micro, Macro, Classroom, MOOC’s, Customised programs are there to enable us but are we utilising them well enough. Companies today do not track MOOC closures; neither do they have a well-defined training Need Analysis to have an outcome-based program.

Personalisation related to learning and development can be done for different aspects: the actual work, performance level & the learning style-and preferences of the employee.

Office layout

Employees prefer an individual approach, where they can choose their working location, working times in line with their individual preferences and personal needs. Not one-size-fits-all. This will require more creativity and flexibility of the office designers. Tech can help to make the best match between current needs and available space.


Onboarding can benefit a lot from personalisation and customisation. Some employees at certain levels learn faster and more aligned with the job in the new organisation. Some of them take a fair bit of time to accustom themselves to the new culture.

The onboarding program is not personalised. Some learn by doing, others learn best by listening to instructions. Most onboarding programs are very top-down: what does the new employee need to learn? The question: what can we learn from this unique new employee is hardly ever asked.

IoT Devices in Hyper-Personalization

IoT devices like the Amazon Echo aren’t just great for improving customer experiences—they’re ideal for helping to improve the employee experience, too. Incorporating IoT devices into the employee experience can also streamline the employee experience as a whole.

Gettysburg College used Tech to launch an Alexa skill, which helped students & staff with items like lunch menus/ class schedules etc.

This new approach requires business leaders to foster a much closer understanding of the needs and aspirations of the workers that report to them. They need to determine how each worker impacts the organization and how they can further its objectives. Moreover, they must identify the rewards that will encourage further performance improvements.

Don’t Just Get Personal, Get Hyper-Personal With Your Employees

Delivering a hyper-personal employee experience can improve staff retention, job satisfaction, and dramatically reduce the cost of recruitment. Plus, a healthy employee experience naturally leads to better customer experience.

With the world’s current workforce being made up of several distinct generations, each one expecting something a little different when it comes to business-to-employee engagement, brands can no longer afford to adopt a one-size-fits-all solution to employee experience. Instead, it’s time to get hyper-personal.

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