Workforce Success – It’s Not Just About the Technology

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In the digital workplace, personas and worker profile data are the foundation of workforce transformation. Once you understand your workers, you can build personalized experiences with the right content, apps, data and devices for anywhere, anytime access. More broadly it’s about IT adopting a worker-centric mindset and aligning IT services, support and solutions with the needs of the business.  With this understanding, your organization is better armed to address the human side of change and more easily gain “buy-in” of IT services. This particularly impacts the speed of adoption of new technology with quick on-boarding of new systems and processes.

Start your persona journey by identifying and defining the personas that exist in your environment. Use a combination of robust data collection, desk-side observations, focus groups, interviews and analysis to define your personas. Don’t be afraid to think broadly about workers’ needs here. It’s important to be open-minded to worker feedback about what IT may or may not be providing today – this opens the door to truly delivering experiences that matter. Once you’ve done that, you can determine the exact experiences, services and support each persona requires, so you can deliver the right solutions and options to your workers.

Persona and Profile-Based Personalization Framework

Most organizations will create a layered persona strategy by defining “enterprise”- or “workforce”-level personas that can be leveraged in almost any solution (EUC, Data Center, Intranet, HR, etc.) and then leverage a more dynamic second level of key attributes that influence exactly what solution or experience the worker receives.

Regardless of how the persona structure and layers are organized (e.g. work-style model vs. role-based model), the four major attributes that are most commonly leveraged in these workforce personas are:

  1. Functional job role (typically grouped at a macro level such as Knowledge Worker or Developer)
  2. Organization (business unit, department, operating company or whichever level is highest and most indicative of the worker’s needs)
  3. Location (Theater, region, country, etc.)
  4. Work style (remote, corridor warrior, etc.)

The combined persona framework is then used as a strategic decision model that each specific solution can leverage or expand upon for their unique needs. For example, the EUC solution team can take this workforce persona framework and add to it some unique attributes or aspects that only apply to EUC such as application entitlements – but the resulting personalization model will be based in the same workforce persona foundation that other solutions teams are using. There are two approaches for defining personas – either by roles or work styles as shown in figures 1 and 2 below.

Figure 1: Example of personas by role.
Figure 2: Personas defined by work style.

Personas and worker sentiment analysis techniques help you understand and empathize with your workforces’ needs based on how they actually work and set the foundation for further optimization. Performing annual IT surveys on how your organization is doing is no longer sufficient for today’s ever-changing workforce. It’s important to measure worker sentiment on a much greater frequency and with more specificity.

Which Worker Profile Attributes to Capture

Organizations need to balance the desire to personalize experiences with need to comply with well-intended laws and regulations that protect the privacy of workers.  Attributes such as HR demographics should be off limits to avoid the risk of bias and discrimination. The list below are examples of the highest value worker attributes to focus on when allowed to be used by your organization.

  • Organizational business unit
  • Role / job title
  • Executive, manager or individual contributor
  • Location which includes primary work location and current work location
  • Workstyle such as on-the-go-pro, desk-centric, etc.
  • IT assets inclusive of devices (company managed, BYOD) and application entitlements
  • Security posture (highly regulated roles vs. general workforce)
  • Colleague network (who do you interact with, who are your peers in different organizations)
  • Most frequently apps and content

Leverage Robust Worker Profile Data to Create Personalized Experiences

The corporate workforce is provided specific tools, applications and platforms to get their jobs done, offering little choice as to what works best for them. As an example, corporate intranets are the face of the organization to your workers, with the objective to help them access what they need and feel connected to the organization culture and strategy. However, too often companies use a one-size fits all content approach, often failing to accomplish the very purpose the intranet was developed – empower workers.

What’s missing is a focus on personalization. It’s in the organizations’ best interest to make the employee experience as productive as possible, allowing the workforce to get their job done with the least amount of friction.  Ensure that your organization considers introspective questions such as:

  • Does our technology support the modern workplace?
  • What technology is needed to enable better productivity while ensuring security?
  • Have we simplified the consumption of IT resources?
  • Are employees able to effectively collaborate using the right technology for the way they work?
  • How do we best enable users through a personalized worker experience?

Insights from these reflections must then be aligned to the personas and worker sentiment analysis to position your organization to deliver the right computing experience on whatever device the worker uses – whether provided by IT, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or VDI, etc. Without this deliberate awareness and IT self-reflection, workers may not receive the right device, apps or entitlements needed to be reach their full potential, resulting in frustration and potentially attrition.

What Does Delivering a Personalized Experience Really Mean?

The workers’ profile is the basis for providing a personalized experience. Apps they use should understand who they are (key attributes), what they care about (role) and their organization. Workers are frustrated when required to create and update their profile in multiple apps. They prefer to create one profile, which is intelligently leveraged by all their apps and platforms, to understand who they are in terms of role, responsibility, rights and skills.

Examples of how organizations use robust profile data to personalize the worker experience are:

  1. Metadata / taxonomy-driven content organization – While search engines continue to improve, a foundational layer of context can dramatically improve results. Leverage “flat” content structures that can be dynamically displayed in different groupings and collections based upon key metadata values.
  2. Persona-driven audience targeting – Define personas and audience segments based upon profile attributes, locations, business unit, skills, or other values. Tag content, knowledge, and KPIs/data as being relevant or useful to those groups.
  3. Self-identification of interests –  Give each worker the ability to self-select their preferences to further tailor their experience. Provide follow and subscribe capabilities (e.g. people, topics, tasks and data, etc.) to prioritize and push the content workers see.
  4. AI-driven suggestion and recommendation engine – Artificial intelligence tools and machine learning are becoming prevalent in the enterprise. Harness these tools to suggest people, content, or topics that are likely to be of interest to your workers. VPAs and bots can provide additional assistance to help workers find what they need. These ‘recommendations engines’ can help workers prioritize where to focus their time and can lead to unexpected and valuable results and connections.

Armed with these techniques, organizations are better able to deliver targeted content and more personalized recommendations, resulting in increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Measure Worker Sentiment and Satisfaction

There are new ways of working, new types of workers and greater expectations around experiences in the workplace.  Most workers are accustomed to powerful tools, data and applications on their personal devices and expect the same or better in their work experiences. In order to attract and retain talent, organizations are spearheading worker-centric initiatives. However new initiatives alone aren’t enough.  Sustained, comprehensive measurement of progress is essential to delivering worker experiences that matter.

So, what should be measured?

  • Worker sentiment and satisfaction are obviously key for retaining talent. Many customers use Employee Net Promotor Scores and or annual surveys to measure worker satisfaction. Annually is not nearly often enough and these approaches are typically not granular enough. Use modern experience management tools to gather rich data sets such as satisfaction with devices, performance, connectivity and application health. These tools also allow you to micro-segment and micro-target workers with small polls to get direct feedback on areas where IT is looking for insights. Armed with all this data, IT can more frequently correlate worker sentiment trends with IT changes and future improvements.
  • EUC and work style statistics such as:
    • % of time on/off network, onsite/remote
    • % of time on each device (if multiple are used)
    • % of time using shared spaces (e.g. conference rooms)
    • Application usage (what is being used and not used)
    • Adoption of preferred collaboration / productivity tools (e.g. Office 365 apps and services vs. traditional/legacy, OneDrive vs. email attachments)
  • Service and support statistics:
    • Use of and adoption of self-service mechanisms like bots, KB, communities and chat tools
    • % of tickets and incidents that are workforce related
    • Growth or decline trends in quantities
    • Reduction in time-to-resolution
    • Reduction in use of help desk for basic/mundane items that could be done via self-service
  • HR statistics
    • Retention or attrition rates
    • New hire time to productivity
    • Desired % of remote workers

Organizations recognizing that workforce transformation is needed, often start by changing their operating model and organizational structures to emphasize the need for change. A desire to deliver better worker experiences is inspiring organizations to add non-traditional IT roles such as Chief Experience Officer and Head of Employee Experience. Aligning with this workforce focused trend, IT organizations are embracing a service provider mentality with success metrics based on worker satisfaction and adoption rather than cost and budget.

Develop a Plan for Impactful Experiences

Understanding the workforce is the first step to deciding how to deliver truly impactful worker experiences.  Taking a persona-based approach is fundamental to delivering worker experiences that are powerful, productive and satisfying. By measuring worker sentiment frequently and adapting to their changing needs your organization will be better positioned to attract and retain talent.

If you’re struggling to put a plan in place to develop the right personas, you’re not alone.  Many organizations often require help from an outside source – one who has the experience and refined processes for understanding your workforce. Dell Technologies ProConsult Advisory, based on our AS-IS/TO-BE methodology, was designed with situations like this in mind.

You can also learn more about our perspective on the modern Digital Workplace by downloading our eBook Empower the workforce with consumer-grade, personalized experiences.

About the Author: Matthew Roberts

Matt Roberts has been with Consulting Services since 2006. Collaborating with customers for so many years to enable their employees to just get work done, he has a unique perspective on how best to leverage technology that spans Dell’s strategically aligned businesses, the Microsoft ecosystem, and other third party software to achieve real workforce transformations for clients. Matt is passionate about digital transformation, modernizing digital app experiences and developing solutions that make the digital workplace as productive, engaged, and connected as possible. With 20+ years of software and consulting experience, his career has focused on Digital and Web/App Development. He has broad digital strategy, solution and technology architecture expertise; with specific depth in portal, collaboration, digital/web, content mgmt., search, and ITSM solutions.
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