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A Persona-Based Model for Uncovering What Matters Now for the Employee Experience

By Perceptyx - October 28, 2021

It’s no secret that our relationships with work, and our workplace, have evolved in recent years, shaped by digital transformation, increasing individual mobility in a tight labor market, and the rise of the gig economy, among other factors. The pandemic simply pushed these shifts into hyperdrive, along with our expectations of the employee experience.

Employees are becoming more discerning about what they want from their jobs, with many electing to simply vote with their feet given the increasing number of workers celebrating “The Great Resignation.” This means organizations are facing a number of new challenges, including recruiting new employees and delivering a positive experience to retain the talent they already have.

However, before organizations can solve these challenges and deliver the employee experience workers want today, companies must understand the current state of their workforce, as well as the boosters or barriers of engagement. In our latest research, Perceptyx reveals how organizations’ performance in three critical categories – people management, employee development, and workplace climate – is having an outsized impact on the experience of their employees.

The Four Workplace Personas

1: The Energized (9% of Employees in the Perceptyx database) – These are the people your organization wants around. They are your top performers. They are motivated to do their best work and hope to spend their career with your organization. The Energized often provide the best employee and customer referrals and are also advocates, brand ambassadors, and informal leaders within your company culture. 

2: The Contented (44% of Employees in the Perceptyx database) – Making up the largest group of employees, the Contented are steadfast workers who are relatively happy at your organization. They often feel passion for their work, though perhaps not passion for the organization itself. Their basic workplace needs are being met on a regular basis, and they feel as though there are opportunities for growth. As a result, they have no active plans to leave, but could be lured away by the right opportunity. 

3: The Disconnected (34% of Employees in the Perceptyx database) – While these employees are happy with some aspects of the job, more of their needs are not being met to a satisfactory level. These employees do their job but no more. Our research found that 70% of Disconnected employees intend to remain at their organization, which is concerning because only 18% of them feel a strong sense of personal accomplishment at work, compared to 92% of employees whose needs are fully met. This is problematic because Disconnected employees are also actively detracting from your brand and your culture.

4: The Neglected (13% of Employees in the Perceptyx database) – These employees are unhappy and do not feel as though they have a future with the organization. They are twice as likely to leave their employer as the other groups. The basics of their workplace are not being met on a regular basis, and the climate they work in is likely damaging their physical and mental health. However, their attitude could change with a new department, new role, or new manager. When a team or group of employees begins to take on these characteristics, they are sending a message that they need support.

What Employee Personas Mean to Your Organization

Personas are useful because they take the complex similarities – or differences – across your workforce experience, and simplify them into broad groups that can be managed, communicated with, trained, and engaged via tailored solutions.

By modernizing your listening strategy to include these critical workplace factors, and applying survey results to identify the potentially damaging gaps in your experience, your organization can begin to assess how your employees rank. Look at the differences between your Energized employees and all of the other groups. How can you leverage these promoters within your culture to boost the experience of the Contenteds, for example? How can you use analytics about the needs of your Contenteds and prevent them from becoming part of the Disconnected? 

While the Neglected may seem like the biggest threat to your organization, many of them are likely already planning to leave. This is where more investigation may be needed. Could a transfer to a new department, manager, or location revive their motivation or their sense of connection to the company? 

In terms of where to focus, our data suggests it’s the Disconnected that leaders really need to worry about. Because this persona is likely to stick around, despite their sense of hopelessness, your organization must apply its people analytics to understand why they are unhappy and create an action plan. If left to fester in their frustration, they are likely to infect the healthy, productive workers in your organization and cause additional disruption.

For more information on this group of ‘Working Dead,” and the risks they pose to your organization, check out this infographic.

Looking at the employee experience through the lens of these personas helps organizations to view employees as humans with unique needs and situations for an employer to manage, rather than simply parts of a larger productivity machine. 

It’s also important to note that these personas are not fixed. Each is a product of both the person and their workplace situation, and specific actions can be taken to change an employee’s situation, thus changing their persona. In fact, without organization-wide actions to drive positive change, as employees leave and new ones join, organizations will simply see new employees take on the same personas as the ones who left.

Download the full report to learn more about the data behind these employee personas, how each group impacts your organization, and the three actions you must take now to win in the future of work. 
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