Your company is probably made up of very different types of people.

A suburb-dwelling mother of three, for example, lives a vastly different lifestyle from a 24-year-old single man who lives a few blocks from your office. So shouldn't they have access to benefits tailored to their unique needs?

The young man, for instance, won't need child care services, but he might want identity theft protection because he travels a lot and handles his finances online.

What's more, not only do these employees have different needs, but also their needs change throughout their lives, so your services must scale as necessary.

This is the starting line of personalized health, and your job is to create a custom-built shopping experience where individuals can buy for their specific needs. But where do you start?

Match Benefits to Your Employees

In the past, most employer-based benefits systems were designed for HR administrators, not employees.

But as our health care system became increasingly user-focused and out-of-pocket costs rose for employers and consumers, those antiquated systems simply didn't have the solutions employees wanted anymore, deeming the one-size-fits-all model out of style.

The up-and-coming benefits systems focus on providing great experiences to consumers. As I said, this burden is on you--the employer--who should offer personalized benefits packages.

If this sounds overwhelming, don't be discouraged. It's not as laborious as you might think.

The first step to providing a user-focused experience is figuring out exactly what your employees want. This is where personas become especially helpful.

Personas are fictional characters generated through research into your team's personalities, lifestyles, needs, and habits. Assigning fake names and details to each persona brings life to each profile. Basically, it's a way to envision your employees and make sure you're offering benefits that fit their needs.

Use Personas to Design Benefits

Thinking of your employees in terms of personas is also useful for you as the employer. Reflecting on the makeup of your team gives you a deeper understanding of their needs and how you can amend your HR processes to better suit them.

Your employees, meanwhile, benefit from more than just a great benefits package. Knowing their employer took the time to sit down with their health insurance broker to craft a unique benefits package generates loyalty and satisfaction. And employees who are satisfied with their benefits are happier at work and less likely to look for another job.

Here are five tips for creating personas and using them to create the best benefits packages for your employees:

  1. Compile demographics. Who is working at your company? What's the age range? How many have dependents? What are their lifestyles and types of employment? What types of people work in your industry? What do they like to do? Gather as much information as you can about your employees.
  1. Create personas. Using your research, create personas for each group of employees. Some factors to consider when discerning personas include an employee's age, family size, location, work, activity level outside of work, disposable income, time off, views on health care, level of comfort with technology, and common worries.
  1. Test your personas. Come up with a list of questions, and predict how your personas will respond. Then, interview your workforce to ensure all responses are well represented. Tweak your personas until they're true representations of your employees.
  1. Package bundles. Use your personas to create a range of benefit bundles you can offer to employees. Letting people handpick their benefits can be a nightmare for you as an employer, but bundling will allow employees to pick base packages and customize from there.
  1. Work with your broker. Collaborate with your broker to offer benefits tailored to each bundle. Make your offerings as specific to each persona as possible.

Personas are a way for you to gain a deeper insight into your workforce. Putting your focus on your employees' lives and personalities means you'll not only be able to offer killer benefits, but also have a better idea of how to boost employee satisfaction.

Published on: Sep 1, 2014