Strategies To Improve the Performance Of Employees
In a new age of remote work, distributed work and flexible work models, managers have a big job identifying productivity and performance goals and outcomes.
Back in the 20th century, many jobs were a lot more like factory assembly lines. It was generally easier to measure productivity in completed units of work, or accounts handled, or some other concrete metric related to what most front-line workers were doing. The supervisor’s job was, often, mostly related to “keeping people on-task.”
Today’s work world is different, as all of us are finding out. New technology and processes bring their own challenges in terms of quantifying productivity and figuring out how that applies to a particular business. When jobs are more complex and task-ambiguous, how do you really get a handle on how good an employee’s performance is?
What Is Employee Performance?
First, we have to figure out how to talk about employee performance and productivity.
At its core, performance involves how people do their work – whether they do it to a certain standard, whether they complete enough of it, and how their work is delivered to an employer.
Beyond that, though, there are a lot of ambiguities in measuring that performance. Managers and leaders have to ask themselves what a person’s job role entails, and how to measure their progress. If there are concrete processes to look at, that’s good—and there usually are—but when much of a person’s job involves, say, being a liaison across multiple departments, stakeholders might lack a rigidly defined model to measure success.
Basic Concepts In Performance Evaluation: Where To Start
In order to start to try to quantify performance or productivity, managers can look at outcomes, achievements and behaviors. The outcome is the units of work completed, and the quality of work completed. The achievements represent employees paying attention to goal setting. The behaviors also tell their own story, when you apply them to business processes that are so often about people.
The Role Of Performance Reviews
The performance review has become an important business tool, and big data can play a role. Curated behavioral and workflow data brings new ways to consider the contributions of each employee to a company, and many HR departments have room to evolve and innovate further, to catch up with what the vanguard of companies is doing in this regard. There’s also the challenge of remote work scenarios. Although this might make it harder to evaluate someone’s work, the best new technologies are useful in remote work situations as well as on-site. Adding refined data analysis to a performance review enhances what this type of input can do for a business.
Using Behavior Analytics to Improve Employee Performance
Behavior analytics help to build a narrative that shows more about what a person does at work each day.
Beyond that basic equation of outcomes and achievements, the behavioral portion shows how people are interacting, how they are filling a job role, and what they are doing to enhance business outcomes in less quantifiable ways.
For instance, looking at how someone interacts with the platform for central work processes can really show a lot about that person’s dedication and devotion to getting something done well. Whether someone is documenting certain work processes can also apply. Those are just two examples of how the metrics reveal more about a person’s incentive, intent and by proxy, performance. It’s important to note that offline data can get collected, too. For instance, if some critical part of the job happens offline between employees, managers and HR people can creatively use tools like questionnaires and surveys to get relevant data back into the equation.
Using Goals and KPIs
In any kind of clarification of work processes, people can use defined goals.
The goal is the benchmark. You measure the performance or productivity against that goal. This really helps to define what people are talking about when they’re going over performance reviews, or analyzing performance in some other way.
Then there’s a metric called the ‘key performance indicator’ or KPI that has become valuable these days across all sorts of industries. KPIs, as quantified goals, set the stage for better measurement of what’s happening inside a business. For example, having a KPI specifying “X numbers of accounts reviewed” during a given time frame can be a working part of a performance analysis that might also include using behavior analysis to look at how the person works day to day.
Building Strategies For Improving Productivity Using Behavior Analytics: Use Cases for Behavior Analytics
In moving the ball forward, business leaders can look more closely at some specific uses of behavior analysis. Think about these strategic approaches and what they can do for a team.
Identify Process Gaps and Bottlenecks
One major use of behavior analytics involves someone monitoring the data and looking for situations where new technology or processes are hurting rather than helping productivity
Someone might find that one or more employees spend a lot of time in some technical platform that accomplishes some goal. Measuring that time, and other data attached to how people use the tool, they might see that this type of gatekeeping technology is actually ineffective. This type of thing is pretty common; in fact, research covered at Apollo Technical showed that the average employee surveyed is only productive for 60% or less of each day, working an estimated two hours and 23 minutes each day on essential core tasks. By scrutinizing behavior analytics paired with data on mission-critical processes and systems, business leaders can ensure that their employees are well over that low bar, in terms of the hours per day spent productively.
In general, experts in IT adoption understand that new technologies are only as valuable as their ability to help employees thrive. Too much of a learning curve or other challenges can make these technologies into previous stumbling blocks for any kind of team, turning what was meant to be an asset into a liability. When companies can spot these problems and course-correct, productivity goes up.
Align Employees With Strengths
Behavior analytics can also show business leaders a lot about what people are good at. HR professionals and others have been asking employees about their strengths (and weaknesses) for decades; what was missing was the data. Now, with actionable BA, people can really dig into optimizing work processes and employee performance.
For example, in looking at core behavior and session data, one might see an employee’s time and effort gravitate towards some process where he or she is knocking out a lot of productive work during a given workday. Task lists may look more like rapid checks, and it’s often possible to correlate employee satisfaction into the mix, too, blending verifiable data with the testimony of an employee about his or her own work.
Another way to use behavior analysis here involves comparisons: behavior analytics can be used to identify top and bottom performers, and then, to reveal the processes behind what makes them top performers, comparing their processes to those of lower performing employees. What emerges is a true picture of how people are achieving, or, alternately, what holds them up. If a top person in a hotel uses a reservation booking tool well, making above average numbers of successful bookings, that’s a strength. If someone else struggles to make a number of similar bookings, using functions poorly, or spends a long time on each one, that can signal a challenge that managers can look into. The same types of work can also help to show how employees develop “soft skills” that are more people-related than technical. Recent research shows that 85% of job success came from having well‐developed “soft and people skills”, and only 15% of job success came from technical skills. It might take more planning to have BA analyze these soft skills, but in the end, it will pay dividends.
Getting People Engaged
Another use case for behavior analytics is building systems that basically gamify performance – giving people reasons to be involved in their own performance review.
The idea of gamification is really a big part of many new business processes. People in all sorts of fields and industries are figuring out that other people like to participate in systems that seem more like games, with incremental incentives, neat visual dashboards, etc. And that idea can be significantly effective in performance and productivity review, too, making something that once seemed like a chore into a fun game, or at least, something that can be undertaken in a more appealing and easier way.
So how does behavior analytics factor in? Checking on the data, observers can see whether people are tuning into these systems and getting a lot out of them, spending good amounts of time on a platform, earning the rewards, and achieving results. In other cases, those monitoring the system will spot key signs of burnout or disengagement like decreased productivity and lack of collaboration.
Getting A Clear Picture Of An Employee’s Work
Now let’s talk about some of the technical parts of this process.
First of all, efforts to measure performance and productivity can start with training. The initial training and onboarding orient the employee toward what is expected, and what he or she can do to measure his or her own progress proactively.
Along with that, the user behavior analysis can provide that data that people look at to try to figure out if they have achieved goals.
Companies can screen the top performers revealing the winners of a particular process evaluation every so often, for example, once a month.
Another component of this is rewards. People get the soft rewards in terms of recognition when businesses publish outcomes. But appropriate incentives can be good for this kind of process, too. The key is to figure out incentives that motivate your staff, whether it’s time-off, bonuses or other rewards and benefits.
In today’s job world, there are lots of opportunities for better measurement of outcomes and better documentation of how people are succeeding in the workplace. These types of analysis can build a lot of confidence and satisfaction at work. Setting up a good environment with good ambiance, proper tools and quality resources is also a booster for morale and productivity.
Take a look at Teramind and user activity monitoring with Teramind Starter, or other tools like Teramind UAM and DLP packages. With best-in-class user behavior analytics for network activity analysis, these suites have the capacity to enhance how a business evaluates the performance of its people, in many different helpful ways.