The continuing employees’ market, which is related to the increasing difficulty in finding people to fill vacancies, has become a challenge for the HR function in many enterprises. It is no wonder then that HR departments responsible for hiring and keeping employees in the company have comprehensively changed their approach to employees. Gone are the days when the head of HR could say to someone “if you don’t like it here, we have ten other people waiting in line to take your place”. Today, employers are more likely to perceive caring for the employee’s comfort and well-being as a fundamental objective of their employee policy. The pendulum has swung the other way.
Our recent experiences with mid-sized and large enterprises show that employers (heads of HR) are reluctant to undertake measures which might undermine employee comfort. Even if that comfort (potentially) conflicts with the core objectives of their business. From the point of view of the people responsible for HR, this seems rational.
Shades of Teal
The employees’ market has led to a veritable proliferation of Teal organizations and those which integrate Teal elements into their corporate culture. The Teal organization is an organizational paradigm whereby teamwork is supposed to give everyone a sense of meaning, enable growth and offer space for creativity and innovation.1 More and more often, companies also introduce Agile2 methods in business management. Even though, in principle, the Agile methodology can only be applied to project management, companies often extend it conceptually to the entire organization.
The shift towards the Teal approach is not bad in and of itself. Quite the contrary. In the era of personal freedom, self-expression and celebration of individual rights, to create a workplace that is friendly and doesn’t just serve to secure the means of subsistence, but also gives rise to a sense of dignity, self-actualization and recognition – is beyond doubt a good thing. So where’s the problem?
Businesses, in the name of promoting employee well-being and nurturing Teal values in the organization, are reluctant to address the topic of productivity and individual performance. Heads of HR seem to think: we have ourselves a Teal organization (or an Agile structure) so let’s not interfere with its mechanics.
The consequences of incongruity between employee objectives and core business objectives are easy enough to imagine. In the long run, they are beneficial to neither the employees nor the enterprise.
Employees want to know
At the root of Teal organizations lies the assumption that employees self-regulate their actions, i.e. follow internalized standards, and their actions are driven by the value and significance of the objective. If so, then it is natural that employees will want to know how well they are doing, so as to be able to self-regulate. And this is not about the final result of their work, which is relatively easy to assess – when it is too late to do anything about it. What’s important is information on an ongoing basis – it is impossible to manage something which cannot be measured. Enterprises could provide a lot of such information to employees even today – in a matter-of-fact and unbiased manner. Using the capabilities of People Analytics applications which automatically collect passive data.
The 2016 Aon Workforce Mindset study demonstrated that the majority of employees, especially high performers, want to know how their results compare to the expectations related to their position, the manager's requirements and what they look like in the personal development domain. The same applies to the youngest generation in today’s workforce. Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are more likely to say knowing how they’re doing relative to peers is important. As many as 89% of above-average employees want to know how they perform compared to others. Among the Millennials, this ratio is 61% (compared to 55% in the overall working population).
The same study also shed some light on the contribution of top-tier workers: 1% of the best employees can generate up to 10% of the results and are responsible for the top 10% of business growth. If we want to keep them, we have to recognize (identify) them and create a special incentive and remuneration framework. Top-tier employees simply like organizations which appreciate their efforts; if they are treated on a par with the (average) others, they leave.
Our experiences, having conducted dozens of Workload Assessments for entities from various business sectors, show a high degree of ignorance in harnessing employee potential and the actual organization of a working day.
Can we afford to lose the hidden leaders? A rhetorical question. But here is a harder one to answer: do we know which employees form the top tier in our enterprise?
Managers really need not fear to collect data on work performance. Particularly as the data collection process can be conducted without putting an additional burden on the employees. Professional People Analytics applications can, on the one hand, fulfil the employees’ need to know their results, while on the other, provide managers with an intelligent tool to manage and improve work in their business.
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- "Teal organisation"
- Moira A., "Agile project management: A comprehensive guide
- Aon Hewitt "2016 Workforce Mindset Study"