In March 2020, the world changed remarkably nearly overnight as a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic spread across the globe. The ensuing lockdowns caused enormous disruptions to the economy and our day-to-day lives. In a matter of weeks, millions of people lost their jobs, while millions more were forced to work remotely from home. Businesses had to scramble to ensure employees could continue to do their jobs at a high level while everyone used video conferencing solutions for meetings.
Now, as the vaccine rollout continues, we are closer to a return to a pre-pandemic normal. Business leaders are weighing whether to bring workers back to the office full-time, permanently allow remote work, or work out some kind of hybrid system. Thankfully, for HR professionals, there are many technologies that will enable managers to connect with their employees, regardless of whether they are in the office or working remotely.
There are many reasons to embrace these tools, such as allowing employees to have self-service control over vacation requests or payroll information. But, a modern, progressive performance management platform can be instrumental in engaging employees, managing employee performance, aligning workers with organizational goals, creating an open dialogue between managers and employees, helping with career development, and promoting accountability. The key to this is the employee-driven paradigm. That is, empowering employees to have ownership of their job while still having leaders to guide them. This is becoming more important with changing demographics. Right now, Millennials are the largest group in the workforce, with Gen Z coming hot on their heels. Both groups are very comfortable with technology and expect automated experiences for many tasks.
Regardless if an employee is in the office or working from home, they need to be engaged. As several studies have shown, strong employee engagement helps companies retain and develop talent, cutting recruiting and training costs associated with turnover. A performance management platform can help achieve that by promoting frequent, informal conversations between managers and members of their team. These conversations help ensure employees have a clear definition of their responsibilities and set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals that directly impact the organization’s success. For evaluation purposes, this helps ensure that employees understand where there is room to improve. But it also provides the feedback and advice employees need to develop a plan to help them reach their professional goals.
Similarly, modern performance management tools can promote accountability and empowerment in a remote or in-office environment. With clear communication, a manager can delegate jobs to an employee, giving them the autonomy to complete the task as they see fit. The technology can be automated to keep track of meetings, collect data and provide real-time insights to give supervisors oversight on how the work progresses. Once completed, they can easily provide meaningful feedback on what went right and wrong. Ideally, the employee develops new skills and confidence while doing meaningful work, while the manager discovers new ways to accomplish goals. This frequent and open communication creates an opportunity to hear employee concerns and provide feedback to fix issues before they fester into more significant interpersonal or cultural problems that can drain productivity. It also allows the manager to recognize achievements and exceptional work.
Performance management tools can help supervisors and employees stay on top of goals, quotas and projects. This can be especially helpful when workers are operating out of the office. Real-time insights can give managers the agility to respond to potential problems before they become issues. While some tools are great at performance management and accountability and others excel at strategic alignment, the right tool does both.
A well-designed application is critical because having an easy-to-use interface will make the process easier for all involved. This is especially true for employees who are not comfortable with using new technology. With tight budgets, some companies may be reluctant to invest in new performance management tools. This could be due to the perceived expense or concern over the difficulty of integrating the software with existing systems. It could be over the belief that new applications will increase the burden on IT teams that might already be stretched thin. However, these skeptics should understand that this new crop of progressive performance management tools is all cloud-based and requires little effort or maintenance once the application is configured.
As vaccination rates in most countries continue to increase, many employees will return to the office, while others will continue to work remotely. This can be a challenge for any organization. However, the right technology stack can help managers keep track of their teams, communicate with them effectively, ensure the employees remain engaged with the work and aligned with the organization’s broader goals and culture. As we enter into this new normal, companies must do all they can to be successful. We remain in uncharted territory, and the rules are still being written. But by taking advantage of today’s remote employee management technologies, business leaders can improve the chances that employees will continue to reach their goals and help their organization thrive.