If there is one thing universal and stark characteristic of the “smart” world, it is the glorification of the individual – the individual’s unique needs and wants. HR will have to find ways to tailor their practices and interventions, keeping in mind the needs of the individuals.
E Commerce sites are trying to understand the user profile and pushing (ok, recommending) products and services. Social media sites are understanding our interests, our connects, our activities, and suggesting more people to connect to and also showing adverts that may be of interest to us.
In HR too, this is not new. Yet the significance and the challenge have increased manifold. Take compensation and benefits. Companies have offered benefits packages that are flexible – Flexi-basket. Employees could choose a set of benefits from a list and within a framework of eligibility. This sure has been very useful and welcomed by employees. But then this requirement for flexibility i.e. Need something that suits me better has increased as a result of the general practice in the world outside the employer-employee relationship.
People have different preferences on the what they want to do in the future and how they want to take their career. People have preferences on they want to learn and develop their skills. People have preferences on how they consume communication – for some it is video, for some it is text, for some it is audio.
The challenges in trying to fulfill this individualization are clearly two fold. One, identifying the individual preferences i.e. Who wants what and how And two, tailoring the employee practices to deliver them as suited for the individuals.
The first, is going to be the real difficulty – how to understand the individual. Definitely they would require asking the right questions, looking for the right data (even if it means going beyond the data that is available within the organization’s framework – for example the person’s profile in other public places), and putting in place mechanisms to analyze the data. The second, is slightly less complex since it is largely within the control of HR itself – they can decide what and how something needs to be done.
These needs will have to be met if we assume that employers are indeed willing to develop a long term relationship with the “employee” – as in the case of a marketer-customer one. But the same may not be true if one looks at the relationship as that of seeker-provider one where the relationship is purely at transactional level and for the duration of the task in hand.
Going forward, organizations, at least those that grow and sustain would need a blend of both kinds of engagements. In which case they need to meet the challenges of individualization will have to be fulfilled.