If you log on to Amazon, they already have books picked out for you – ones they think you’ll like based on your demographics and your buying habits. If you’re a Netflix subscriber, they can produce a pretty reliable list of movie suggestions you’re prone to watch. When you navigate to any page in the world-wide-web, the advertisements pushed to those pages are there likely for little old you. Airlines send you vacation and last minute flight deals you’re likely to get excited about. Hotel chains know whether you want a room on a high or low floor, one that’s close to the elevator or at the end of the hall, and whether you prefer a feather or synthetic pillow. Some know whether you prefer the WSJ or the USA Today in the morning. Credit cards allow you to use your points for airline tickets, or golf clubs, or jewelry…it’s your choice. Groupon turns you on to coupons related to purveyors in your neighborhood. Sodastream allows you to “to prepare great-tasting, fresh, fizzy beverages precisely to your taste.” Some of you will call all of this a nuisance, but most of of you will recognize it as black-belt marketing. And when it works – when you come across something that really gets your juices flowing – you’re psyched…and then you buy it. The internet, decades of consumer database development, and technological advancements have made all of this possible. But it’s happening because it’s the next logical advancement in the consumer experience…customization.
Baskin-Robinns had this figured out a long time ago. 31 flavors for different tastes, moods, and occasions. At the very root, BR recognized its customers’ diverse interests. Just think of the combinations; although my finite math in permutations is a little rusty, I’m pretty sure a two-scoop kind of guy (like me) can have 961 different combinations of cone at Baskin-Robinns. Nomnomnomnomnomnomnom. Sorry…got sidetracked…
How many flavors does your Human Resources practice have? Which of the services, programs, and products do you customize to your diverse and dynamic employment base? What’s that? You treat your employment base as one big unit…a homogeneous population? You didn’t realize that unit was comprised of individuals who often march to a different beat? You’ve grown to standardize your offerings in an effort to be more streamlined, more cost effective? And that means that if works for one it should work for them all? Sure, you understand your workforce is diverse. But does your HR program serve them that way? Huh. Interesting.
Listen, don’t feel too bad about it; you aren’t alone. Most organizations, in fact, have fallen into this rut. But why the hell wouldn’t we customize our HR practices to more directly solve for individual tastes? Certainly our employees’ skills, experiences, and career aspirations are different. What motivates each is not ever really the same. They learn in their own unique ways. And what gives them a sense of satisfaction and reward varies just as much. Yet chances are we give them one performance management system that inflexibly applies the same competency framework to all, one compensation program that is used for everyone, one benefits plan, one training program that teaches everyone the same way. Most companies get customization as far as their customers are concerned. In fact, you probably work for a company that gets it for theirs. Your employees are your customers, HR. So why give them only vanilla when they might really be craving Pralines n’ Cream?
Customization, baby. I think that’s where it’s at.
Image Credit: Kapungo
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