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Understand Employee Personas to Improve Your Workplace

Have you heard of employee personas? In this guide, we’ll explain what an employee persona is, why developing these personas will benefit your team, and how to do it.

What’s the secret to your business’ success? Happy employees.

Your employees are the heart of your business. While many businesses focus solely on customer experience, it’s even more important to consider the employee experience. By investing in the people who run your business, your business will inevitably find success and longevity.

But simply hiring people who are qualified for the job isn’t enough. You also need to carefully curate a team that works well together, with employees who are best suited for your company, its culture, and its mission.

To do that, you must first develop employee personas.

Not sure how (or why) to do that? Keep reading. In this post, we’ll explain why developing employee personas can benefit your organization and your team, and how to do it.

Why Do You Need Employee Personas?

Over the past few decades, the employee mindset has radically changed.

Less than 50 years ago, employees worked at one job from early adulthood to retirement. This workgroup includes our parents and definitely our grandparents. However, the modern worker is no longer tied to the ideals or work values of yesteryear.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person stays at a job for just over four years.

Why are employees constantly on the move? Exit interviews reveal that modern employees prioritize mental health, compensation, and the chance to progress in their career path. Company culture and the presence of competent leadership also influence the employee’s decision to stick around or look for employment elsewhere.

Companies cannot take employee loyalty for granted.

Modern employees approach work with a consumer mindset. If they don’t like a job, they’ll simply switch to the competitor.

This consumer mindset has been on the rise for the past decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it into overdrive.

The pandemic forced most businesses to change their operation processes, with many converting from in-person to fully remote. This change gave employees the freedom to work from home, but it also permanently shifted the way that many employees viewed work.

After being given the freedom to work remotely, a lot of employees have decided to “shop around” for the best fit. And while many organizations are shifting back into an in-person or hybrid work arrangement, the consumer mindset has not gone away. In fact, it’s getting stronger.

If you want to retain your employees and build an invincible and productive team, you also must think of employees as customers. This will influence how you market your job opportunities to job seekers and how you ultimately build a team that works well together.

How do you do that?

Build employee personas.

You can use employee personas to improve individual employee experiences, as well as the group dynamic on your team. Plus, building employee personas can increase employee satisfaction and retention, which will positively impact both the short- and long-term success of your business.

You can use employee personas to improve individual employee experiences, as well as the group dynamic on your team. Click To Tweet

What is an Employee Persona?

So, what exactly are employee personas and how do you build them?

An employee persona is a semi-fictional representation of an employee. It’s a template you can use to better understand the different personalities, goals, motivations, hesitations, and work styles of your employees.

Perhaps you’ve heard of customer or buyer personas before.

Marketers often create customer personas to help them understand the motivations, behaviors, and preferences of their target audience. They can use this information to ensure product-customer fit, overcome common objects, and even improve their product for the future.

Similarly, you can use your employee personas to provide clarity and direction for the future. By developing employee personas, you can understand the ultimate goal of your employee and what obstacles block their path. You can clearly identify opportunities to help your employees meet their goals.

From a team perspective, you can use employee personas to see the big picture of how your team works together. How does each personality motivate (or de-motivate) the other? What personalities do you need to add to your current team to improve efficiency and motivation?

You can use employee personas to inform your hiring decisions or to improve the way that you manage your current team.

How Do You Create an Employee Persona?

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and create employee personas, but how?

1. Conduct Employee Research

The first step is perhaps the most involved. It requires collecting a lot of data so that you can build realistic personas.

You can use quantitative data collection, which includes surveys with closed, “yes or no” type questions. This type of research is best for collecting hard facts. It answers the “what.”

You can also do qualitative data collection which relies on unstructured one-on-one interviews and focus groups. When collecting qualitative data, you can ask open-ended questions to gauge sentiment, identify motivations, and understand the “why” behind the “what.”

Additionally, you can observe your employees at work. This can help you draw conclusions on how employees interact with each other and their work environment.

2. Review Your Research

After amassing your research data, the next step is to analyze it. Look for patterns in both attitudes and behaviors. For example, is an employee more productive when working remotely, or do they thrive when at the office?

Pay attention to common pain points, career expectations, frustrations, motivators, and hindrances.

3. Design Employee Personas

Next, use your research to create different personas based on what you’ve observed from your team.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a look at the most common employee personas:

Idealistic Issac: This type of employee is guided by inner values and focused on personal growth. Issac is motivated by opportunities to challenge themselves and learn more.

Mentor Mary: This type of employee knows a lot and is always willing to share what they know with others. This employee is dependable. Mary is motivated by the opportunity to invest in others.

Social Sam: This type of employee is gregarious, energetic, extroverted, and prefers to work in groups. Social Sam is motivated by a developed culture and the opportunity to interact with others.

Builder Bob: This type of employee is the practical one who gets the job done. Bob is motivated by clear goals and directions.

Creative Cary: This type of employee loves to solve problems with innovative solutions. Cary is motivated by the freedom to express their creativity.

Researcher Rachel: This type of employee is always on the hunt for knowledge. They use data and research to solve problems they encounter. Rachel is motivated when she has access to resources.

Networker Nathan: This type of employee is always meeting new people and making new connections. Nathan is motivated when he can partner with others to create ultimate solutions to problems.

Visionary Valerie: This type of employee always has their eye on the future. Valerie is motivated by the big picture and can feel stuck when needing to deal with the details.

Feel free to tweak these personas based on your individual workplace.

Keep in mind that your ultimate objective in developing employee personas is to create a team that works well together and accomplishes the goals that you’ve set. This will be different for each organization. Experiment to find what works best for your needs.

Also, remember that developing employee personas will help you coach your individual employees so that you can ensure that they remain happy and fulfilled while at your organization. Satisfied employees build strong teams.

4. Personalize Your Employee Personas

After you’ve analyzed the data for the employees that currently work on your team or that you’d like to hire for your team, it’s time to create personas. Keep in mind that you’re not describing a specific employee, but rather an employee type. All personas should be generalizations and not specific to any individual.

To create your employee personas, define the following:

  • Name (fictional, just to help you humanize the persona)
  • Basic demographics, such as age and relationship status
  • Job description
  • How long they’ve worked at the company
  • Immediate work goals (within 1-5 years)
  • Career path (beyond 1 year)
  • Work challenges/ frustrations
  • Work fears
  • Values
  • A quote that they may say
  • Three words to describe this person
  • Needs/ expectations from career and management
  • Motivations
  • Work style

By creating employee personas, you can learn more about your employees and identify what they need from you. This insight will help you optimize their employee experience and increase customer retention. Employee personas can also be used for hiring, ensuring that you’re selecting the right person for not only the job but your team dynamic.

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