One size does not fit all (HR Trends 2017, 8)

Treating employees as individuals and not as part of a group or segment is one of the most important long-term trends.  The way organisations deal with employees is still far behind the way organisations deal with clients, but there is movement. HR can learn a lot from marketing.
Today most organisations still segment in simple ways. Young versus old, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z, Managers and non-managers and so on. Many untested assumptions are used to design policies and career tracks. “Gen Y wants more work-life balance”. “People above 55 want to slow down”. With big data analysis and with sophisticated algorithms, it has become easier to detect and predict individual preferences of employees, and organisations can act on the insights with tailored programs and interventions.

Some thoughts about the implications of a more individual approach in different HR areas.

Organisational Design

Sometimes it looks like all organisations are transforming into self-managed teams, holacracies, flat organisations and what have you. A flexible workforce is the norm. Most of the time the shape of organisations is not taking the individual needs of employees into account. There are people who flourish in a hierarchical organisation. There are people who are looking for a secure job, preferably from nine to five. There are people who hate to be told by a boss what they should do. There are people who prefer to work alone and people who love to work in teams.
Question: is it possible to shape your organisation in various ways, to ensure the individual needs and wishes of current and future employees are met as good as possible?


My daughter, who will finish her master’s degree (systems engineering) later this year, has started her orientation on the labour market. One multinational offers interesting traineeships, but unfortunately they only start once per year (on September 1). This is typically a case of one-size-fits all: take it or leave it, but we are so attractive (and arrogant) that you, as candidate, has to adapt to the program an process of the organisation.
Recruiting for specific jobs and standard traineeships is slowly fading. The trend is to look for people who fit with the organisation culture- and purpose wise, and then see how suitable candidates fit with opportunities. Less fixed jobs, and more building diverse teams with individuals with complementary capabilities who can be assigned to a challenging opportunity.
Question: is your recruitment process tailored to the individual needs and wishes of the candidates you are targeting?

Read: Employer branding – 7 trends.
Read: Job piling.
Read: Trends in Traineeships.

Learning & Development

Leaning & development is typically an area that is still dominated by a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Standard on boarding programs. Traineeships. The typical management development programs for different levels (beginners, middle management and senior management). Many organisations state that they are in favour of the 70:20:10 approach, but in reality they focus on the easy 10% (courses and training). It is very difficult to design effective interventions in the learning and development domain. The learning needs of employees are different, as well as the learning styles. Fortunately current technology will enable a more effective learning and development approach. In one of the coming blog posts we will give an overview.

Read: Personal productivity tools.

Performance Consulting

Performance consulting requires a very individual approach. Performance consulting benefits from very specific and tailored feedback. It is not very helpful to give a top performer the feedback that she is “excellent”. She will want more granular and detailed feedback, that can help her to become even better.

Question: is improving performance consulting one of your key HR initiatives?

Read: Improving Performance Consulting
Read: HR, don’t kill performance management.
Read: The future of HR, part 2: build on spikes.
Read: Immediate feedback tools. 

Office layout

In 2015 we mentioned as trend for 2016 “Back to the Office”. If people return to the office, they do not want to work in open space. They prefer an individual approach, where they are able to choose their working location in line with their individual preferences and personal needs. Not one-size-fits all. and this will require more creativity and flexibility of the office designers. Tech can help to make the best match between current needs and available space.

Question: is your office designed in such a way that the different needs on individuals and teams can be met?

Read: Workplace and an HR intervention. 

Internal Communications

The trend is: from ‘sender determines channel’ to ‘receiver determines channel’.
In the past the sender determined the channel and the receiver had to adapt. Today, the power is shifting  to the receiver. With my wife I communicate via WhatsApp (and, do not worry, also F2F). With my oldest daughter via Facebook. The preferred channel of my youngest daughter is SnapChat, and if I want to reach my son a direct message via Twitter is most effective. And this might be different tomorrow, which I find out if they become silent.
Today it is easy to find out the preferred communication channels for each of our employees. If you want to communicate in an effective way, as management or as organisation, you have to find ways to tap in to these preferred channels, and to adapt the way the message is communicated to the different channels.

Question: which of the following channels do you use for your internal communications? E-mail, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Intranet, LinkedIn, Newsletter, Slack, Skype, Snapchat, Yammer, YouTube, Video, Whatsapp.

Read: 10 ways internal communications is changing.
Read: 12 emerging internal communications trends.

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