Managing Human Capital with Employee Clustering Through the Interplay of the Persona Concept
Keywords:human capital, persona, people clustering, employer branding, HRM/HCM services
Nowadays, employees are seen as active Human Capital Management (HCM) consumers. Megatrends such as individualization and flexible work impact the workforce, especially generations Y and Z. Finding and retaining talent is a challenge that companies try to address, from employer branding to covering the whole lifespan of the company-employee relationship. Management is likely to know every employee in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); however, larger companies need to categorize their human capital into certain entities. This paper explores the usability of the Persona concept for HCM. Persona is a service design approach widely applied in marketing, and a few research papers have argued that personas may have a role in improved people-oriented HCM. In short, personas aim to create a limited set of archetypes that differ from each other regarding demo- and psychographics. Generally, they are a mix of real-life people and some imaginary attributes. Different personas will likely request different services to feel fully motivated and supported. The core target of this article was to identify the common awareness of personas among HCM experts across industries and countries. Also, the ideation of future use of Personas was studied with marketing experts actively using personas in their professions. The qualitative study based on twelve semi-structured individual interviews was conducted in November-December 2022. The results indicate that the HCM community is well aware of the persona concept, which is widely used. However, the current usage of personas is mainly focused on employer branding and recruitment, and only in a few cases the usage covered the design of internal HCM processes. The study also revealed some limitations for HCM that are not present in the marketing field. Demands for transparency, equality, data privacy, and personal integrity set challenges in clustering the workforce. The results indicate the further need for research on best practices of creating and using Personas in a way that ethically serves the interests of both the company and the employee.
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