Use an Employee Persona for Workforce Planning

3 min read
faceless persona
You may have heard of a Persona. It is a marketing concept that captures a profile about a common type of person, usually a customer or user, for which firms want to cater. HR/People Ops can use workforce personas to hire, motivate, and cultivate people with desired traits. In addition, job seekers are tailoring their resumes to highlight their skills, behaviors, management styles, and key achievements, as opposed to listing their job titles with their respective duties. Managers like to tell us that skills are the most important factor in making a person qualified. With a persona we can identify those skills and much more. A persona can include a mini-biography, a set of skills, personality traits, professional goals, and list of tools/programs that are required for effective work. It then becomes a guide for the archetype of a person you want to fill the role. Workforce personas were birthed from design thinking + HR. Design thinking, simply put, is a series of proven design techniques used to solve problems within or outside the realm of design. HR/People Ops can use design thinking with employees, encouraging strategic managers at the company to build workforce personas over time.

Employee Persona: An Example

Example of a workforce employee persona
Image Credit: Raghav Suri

Above, we can see a workforce persona of a fictional employee, John Doe. John is a Content Writer for XYZ Inc. The company wants to grow, and the HR department has surveyed the workforce to collect specific data to build employee personas. The aim of the personas is to see what segments of employees exist, what are their goals and challenges, what can we learn about employees to tailor the work experience, and how this can help grow the company.

“John” is one of the top content writers on the team, and is eager for the content wing to grow. In addition, he is eager to add more channels to the content wing such as video and podcast. Also, he wants to launch a weekly newsletter. John sees that there is low audience retention for the content, and that the company does not collect customers’ emails – which would be key for the newsletter.

So how does maintaining personas help HR?

The HR/People Ops team can use workforce personas to figure out what employees want to achieve, and how to help them achieve it. In John’s case, here is what the HR/People Ops team can do:
  • Appoint John as the head of the Content Team
  • Have him mentor junior-level content writers
  • Ask him to spearhead an audio channel, as well as a video channel
  • Give him the authority to determine how to increase audience retention
  • Have him launch a newsletter; creating an email list of XYZ’s customers
We could then find which employee best fit the persona and prepare the employee to achieve the listed goals.

What are the key results of managing employees with personas?

  • HR has a better understanding the current employees.
  • Employees have a means to communicate their goals.
  • Companies can design strategies, taking into account employee desires, tendencies, and skillsets.
  • Companies can foster a positive company culture by creating common goals and hiring to fill personas.
  Co-written with Cody Bess.
Raghav Suri