Getting started with employee personas

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The process of employee journey mapping involves a crucial step: creating employee personas. Much like sales and marketing teams craft customer personas to tailor messages and foster deep connections, HR and comms teams can apply the same planning principles to understand their diverse workforce and improve each employee’s journey.

Creating employee personas sets the stage for crafting meaningful employee journey maps and ultimately elevating the employee experience. Let’s explore how this process equips you to deliver hyper-personalized campaigns that help you reach every worker, at the right time in their journey, and in the right channel. 

What is employee journey mapping?

Before we dive into employee personas, it’s important to understand employee journeys. The employee journey begins with hiring and onboarding and expands to promotions, life events, and, ultimately, departure from the company. Every moment—from entry to exit—makes up the employee journey. How the employee feels during this employee journey can create either a positive or negative experience, and ultimately their engagement and your business outcomes. 

An employee journey map combines the expected and unexpected moments into a visual representation and actionable framework tailored to your industry, enterprise, employees, and culture. It highlights the critical stages, key milestones, and necessary touchpoints for each stage. 

Much like sales and marketing teams craft customer journey maps and measure customer engagement scores, organizations should apply the same principles to create a robust employee experience strategy centered on their employees. 

The first step in creating an employee journey map is understanding your employee personas.

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Creating employee personas

An employee persona is a profile of a fictional person who represents characteristics of an employee group. 

Just like customers, your employees have different demographics, backgrounds, and experiences that shape their motivations and points of view. You’ll use the details you uncover and organize while creating these personas to start building your employee journey maps with more relevant and personalized messages, content, and experiences that resonate with workers. 

Employee personas will also help identify opportunities for personalized engagement and areas for improvement throughout an employee’s journey with the company.

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“The best way to reduce turnover is to increase engagement. One of the best ways to energize the team about the work they’re doing is to highlight it for the rest of the organization to see.”

Employee personas often include:

  • Demographics: These are key factual details such as where an employee works—remote, in-office, or a hybrid of both—as well as their country, state, city, or facility location. It could also encompass years in their position and whether they work part time or full time. Demographics can also include traits such as gender orientation, disability, race or ethnicity, or any group that could be marginalized.
  • Department and role: Employees who are at a desk, on the front line, in the field, and/or in a union each need the right channels for communication delivery to ensure engagement. It’s important to understand “a day in the life” of each employee. 
  • Preferences: Each employee has their likes and dislikes and preferences for how they interact with technology and where they receive company information.
  • Challenges: Documenting barriers to access and specific pain points on the job is an important piece of the profile. For example, do they have trouble accessing their benefits or finding information?

Download our employee personas worksheet

We’ve created a worksheet to help you get started 

Charting the moments that matter

As you begin documenting the details of each persona, you’ll start to see how the employee journey may need to include different moments that matter across the timeline for various groups. 

Consider the difference in mapping a journey for an incoming mid-career manager who works at a desk in the U.S. versus a newly hired manufacturing technician in Europe. They will travel different journeys through onboarding, open enrollment, and learning and development. 

Many personas can be duplicated when you begin with similarities, but you will also find key differences when you consider what matters to each type of worker.

For example, what matters to a frontline manager is different from what a temporary holiday worker needs. Regardless of their role, you want to ensure they have a good experience so the manager builds a long-term career and the holiday worker returns year after year. 

When creating personas, consider conducting research and talking to the various employee groups within your organization through interviews and surveys to get the most impactful and effective data to inform your journey development and decisions.

“Journeys, and moments that matter in particular, vary significantly based on personas and company context. It is therefore crucial to work with employees to identify these moments and their related pain points. Having employees help define personas reinforces the ‘human touch’ aspects of the work and helps create meaningful impact.”

The McKinsey Company

Once you’ve finalized the personas for your organization, your team and company leadership will have a more detailed understanding of the unique employee groups that make up your workforce. This information will drive decisions as you begin the next step: mapping the comprehensive employee journey. 

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