How Well Do Your Really Know Your Employees?

What are your staff really into? We look at how data segmentation can really make a difference to employee engagement.

Remember when everyone was all about Blur or Oasis? Could you guess which band a person was into before they told you?  

Whether it’s Taylor Swift vs Ariana Grande, or The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones, music tastes can be viewed as separating the wheat from the chaff.

Well, it certainly divides opinions, put it that way.

It’s not always easy to tell what a person is into or what they prefer when given a choice. But chances are, if you really know someone well, you won’t have to ask the question in the first place.

You’ll just know.

So, what about your staff? How well do you really know the people who work for your organisation? And how can ‘what you know’, influence your daily working decisions?

Not sure? Hold it right there. If you want your organisation to reap the rewards of influencing behaviour change, now’s the time to get with the employee engagement programme.


While marketing departments might be falling over themselves to get data on their customers for better targeting, the same can’t always be said for employers and their employees.

When it comes to transforming behaviour, HR Managers really need to think about ‘Boosting Best Behaviours’ as Sodexo reveals.

In fact, now’s the ideal time to get serious about your data. Everyone else will be this year, so HR departments and managers are wise to get in on the act.

As we’ve said, marketing departments already know the value of good data – it’s why the GDPR changes are going to have a big impact this year. We’ve even heard that 75% of UK marketing data will become obsolete according to a study by W8 data.

It means that marketing consultants are going to have to reboot their game plans and ask how relevant their communications really are before they blithely go ahead contacting consumers.

You may have noticed a deluge of brand emails coming through along these lines.

Iain Thomson, Director of Incentive and Recognition, Sodexo, says, “A lot of organisations spend enormous amounts of money segmenting their customer base, but they rarely spend the same amount of effort or money segmenting their employees and understanding who they are and what drives them. Start by reviewing your audience.”

Savvy employers will do well to follow the marketer’s lead when it comes to improving performance and creating meaningful employee engagement.


To truly influence behaviour change and bring about growth or drive sales performance, relevance is crucial to building motivational success stories.

According to Sodexo’s ‘Boosting Best Behaviours’ study, “Learning to influence the behaviour of employees and sales teams means seeing their behaviours and finding out what motivates them first hand, an approach that also builds the foundations for change.”

Simply put, when you get to really know your employees, your business can really benefit from the outcomes.

Not only can you begin to influence how you reward staff to drive business results but you can also affect how you lead, manage, communicate with and develop certain individuals.

FREE RESOURCE: Employee Recognition Check List  Download our free Employee Recognition Check List to understand which  employees you should be recognising and rewarding - get started today! 

Former England Rugby captain and Sodexo Brand Ambassador, Matt Dawson says, “It’s absolutely vital for team morale that leaders and managers take the time to understand what makes people tick. It creates more empathy around the relationships, and that gives you faith and trust from the people around you. Then they’ll respond when you ask them to dig in and over-perform as a team.”

Right, so how to start getting to know your employees?  


Here are two approaches to segmenting employees. Kind, aren’t we?! Hopefully these will help you to review your approach to work engagement programmes with positive results. 


Firstly, think about exploring simple demographic segmentations that may exist within your organisation. That basically means, who’s working for you? Is there a common age bracket and do you have more female employees than male ones? How do your employees work?

If you have basic splits like this within the workforce, you can then assess how to engage with these different groups.

Go and visit them on the ground and see how the business truly operates. Trust us, it’ll pay you to in the long run.

Natasha Omelchenko, Global Health and Safety Reward Programme Director, Sodexo, says, “When anyone comes to me and asks how they can design the best reward programme possible, I say: ‘Go to the workplace, to the shop floor or factory floor, and spend a day observing the employees.’”

For example, if you’re a large retailer, you may employ store staff, delivery drivers working in depots and office-based executives and administrators. Three very different audiences that require three very different approaches to benefits, incentives and rewards.

2. Think about attitudinal employee segmentations

Try reviewing attitudes of staff towards your company. It’s a good way to approach data segmentation and can help you get your employee engagement spot on.

If you look at how your people view your organisation, you’ll begin to see life through their eyes. This will have a profound effect on how you communicate with them and how you might consider developing their careers down the line.

Take retail workers in part-time jobs for example. They may not be keen to hear about training opportunities as they may view their role as short-term. Long service awards won’t turn this audience on either, but if you offer a staff recognition programme that includes instant rewards and incentives like corporate gift cards or cinema vouchers, you might be onto a winner.

What’s more, people in close-knit teams may have more customer contact. Sales people respond well to performance incentives as this can help motivate them to push through transactions on a shop floor. It gives them something to crow about and can help to create staff camaraderie at work.

Ultimately, by spending time with your staff, you’ll begin to see where their interests lie and what they need from the company.


As you’ll soon see from applying the above thinking, businesses can have many types of people working across all sorts of disciplines, so one-size doesn’t always fit all.

According to Sodexo’s ‘Move, Mould, Motivate: UK Employee Engagement Survey 2017’, most employees report that their company benefits and staff rewards simply aren’t engaging to them.

We’ve heard that “just 10% of employees say the rewards offered to them are 'very relevant' to their lifestyle and personal interests.” Slightly uninspiring when you consider the myriad of options that are open to HR departments and managers these days.

It’s a missed opportunity in our book.

When you know what makes people tick, you can get impact and show a caring side to your organisation – and that can really motivate staff to do their jobs even better.  

For example, you could celebrate a long-standing member of staff’s service by giving them gift vouchers or pre-paid credit cards on a work anniversary. Long service awards are targeted rewards and can be great for morale, making people feel really valued.

With options like this available, it seems crazy that anyone would want to take a one-size-fits-all approach to their employee engagement programmes. 

What’s more, when you consider that employee benefits and rewards can cover all sorts of areas, a blanket style approach can have the opposite effect to what you want, actually turning employees off from your organisation.

Like, if you’re banging on about company pensions to a room full of twenty-something part-time shop floor workers, you may have missed the mark. If your end game is to boost loyalty to the company, pensions just aren’t going to get the cut through you’re looking for.

Instead, why not capture their imaginations by using an engagement solutions company who can advise you about the latest gamification apps and quizzes, resulting in employee engagement by the armful.  


All too often, company communications are like a lone voice in a room full of people. Employers need to cut through the noise to truly influence behaviour change. And the way to do that is to be relevant and engaging.

Sodexo’s research explains that if you “make your performance incentives really relevant to what that salesperson wants, you can bet your product will be on their mind next time they sit down with a customer.”

It’s not an easy proposition.

Employees all have different likes and tastes – and whichever tune they’re singing today could soon be different tomorrow. How relevant you make your employee engagement programme is what really counts.

Benjamin Viney, Senior Consultant at Wills Towers Watson, says in ‘Personnel Today’, “Employers that are able to offer customised programmes are three times more likely to have highly-engaged staff and 1.5 times more likely to deliver better financial performances than their peers.”

He adds, “HR professionals have long recognised segmentation as pivotal to improving employee attraction and retention, especially when it comes to reward.”

All very well, we hear you cry. But what about the initial outlay?

Well, you’d be surprised.

A tightly relevant incentive isn’t just guaranteed to cut through the noise and get sales people’s attention, it also costs a whole lot less to implement. And the business returns can be significant.

In fact, as Viney adds, “without a nuanced approach to segmentation, an employer could be providing high-cost benefits to staff who would prefer different rewards that better suit their personal values yet cost the company less.”

When productivity is firmly at the top of the HR and management table of priorities, relevant benefits, incentives and rewards have never been more important.

So, why not make a difference to your workforce today? We promise, it’ll be worth it.

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