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We’ve all been there listening to a friend who has had a bad day at work as they complain about the fact they work too hard and too long while their boss seemingly doesn’t realise. Or they may be complaining that they’re going above and beyond the call of duty, while another colleague is letting others take the strain.
working late isn’t the only measure of being a good employee
The reality of the knowledge economy, where output and effort are often less tangible, less immediately visible, than in industries such as manufacturing or retail is there are people who work harder and longer and there are people who try to get away with the bare minimum. Employers have several responsibilities in this regard to both their business and their employees: find out who the hard workers are; find out who the best workers are (because working late isn’t the only measure of being a good employee); find out who is letting down their colleagues; and try to get the best out of everybody in the interests of an efficient workforce.
A company does not want its hardest workers and most committed staff to burn out or move on and nobody has the right to let their colleagues down or collect a wage they’ve not earned. What’s more, businesses cannot afford to carry underperforming staff any more than they can afford to not recognise and reward their best staff.
Managing this is not without its challenges. As soon as companies start making changes to the ways they track metrics such as performance, attendance or time-keeping they will come up against cultural resistance. Communication and engagement are critical. The employer needs to communicate to staff that this should be mutually beneficial – and they must deliver on that promise.
In some companies where timesheets are commonplace – such as professional services organisations where billable time is the primary, or only product – bosses can be quicker to pull up an employee who’s not billing enough hours than they are to check-in with an employee who is burning the midnight oil every night. Bosses must not only look for the negative in the data, because a hard-working colleague who is carrying more than their fair share can become a problem for the organisation if they leave due to a lack of support or recognition. Not only does the company lose a proven hard-worker but they may take vital knowledge or client relationships with them.
Companies need to communicate why they want to understand more about workforce performance
Companies need to communicate why they want to understand more about workforce performance and staff must see the upside, through regular engagement and action based on the intelligence. Completing timesheets can be demotivating if it feels like the data is going into a black hole, but if staff see improved recognition and the addressing of resourcing issues as a result, then they will see the benefit.
Employers will also be able to see where they have bottlenecks and where they might be over-resourced and to what extent those overs and unders are down to workload or workforce issues: is somebody working late every night because they work slowly or are struggling, or because they simply have too much on? Is somebody out the door at 5pm every day because they are fiercely efficient or because they are doing the bare minimum?
It will also help bosses to work out whether their business model can be improved, to gain a very quick view of whether tasks are routinely taking longer than budgeted for or if there are marginal gains to be made, for example, where highly-skilled staff are being deployed on low-value tasks.
This process should not get railroaded by negative sentiment. All relevant data must be used to help people do their jobs more effectively and ensure the right resource is being deployed in the right places. All that data must be combined to give bosses a complete view of their workforce to help them make decisions which benefit both employees and the company.