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Why Managing Performance Well is Good For Employee Wellbeing

Posted by Mathew French

8 March 2016

At first glance, you might not think that how you manage performance, or your performance appraisal process have anything to do with employee wellness. Yet enabling your employees to achieve a reasonable level of work-life balance as well as giving them the skills and tools needed to succeed at work, is an essential ingredient in creating great a workplace culture in which your employees thrive. Often, work-life balance issues have their roots in the level of expectations that management and leadership set for employees, and the subsequent way that employee performance in relation to those expectations is then managed.

Include Employee Wellness in Your Employee Value Proposition

Your organisational vision is where it all starts, and translating that vision into a well articulated Employee value proposition is an essential method for ensuring that wellbeing forms a firm foundation for your employees. In a well designed and executed performance management process, your organisational vision, values and cultural blueprint are established first. These are then used to formulate your organisational strategies and goals, which then become the basis for every employee in the organisation to set personal goals that both support and are linked to the high-level organisational goals.

As an example, if your organisation is committed to creating a culture that values and promotes employee wellness, it can start by establishing a high-level goal related to exactly that. That high-level goal should be specific, measurable and achievable, and not simply lip service to the latest trends. Next, be sure that you communicate both the goal, your strategies for implementation and your progress on its achievement, to all your employees on a regular basis. Then ensure that each employee has personal goals related to this cultural element being lived in word and action. Progress can then be monitored via your appraisal process. A great performance management solution will enable you to capture, monitor, adjust, discuss and provide learning around such goals in a real-time, ongoing, transparent and democratic manner.

Make Employee Wellness One of Your Values and Embed it in Your Culture

Your organisational competencies help define your unique competitive advantage as well as your organisational culture and values. Competencies define 'how' you want work to be conducted within your organisation. By including competencies in your performance appraisal process and monitoring them on an ongoing basis (instead of once or twice a year), you ensure that a value like employee wellness is communicated and cultivated in actions as well as words. Both Managers and co-workers are then able to rate each others’ demonstration of such competencies, as well as putting development plans in place to enhance wellness oriented behaviours as needed.

If your organisation is committed to supporting something like employee wellness, be sure to translate it throughout your values, your goals and your core competencies. That way you can hold managers and employees accountable for working in way that supports the work-life balance and employee wellness you aim to achieve.

Ensure Employees Have Set A Realistic Number of SMART Goals

One of the chief contributors to stress and work-life imbalance is setting unreasonable and / or unrealistic goals. Employees are sometimes expected to deliver on outcomes that are out of touch with what is realistic. Management expectations of employees can fall into one of the following categories:

  • Employees are expected to do too much because managers and co-workers are unaware of exactly what each individual does on any given day.
  • Employees are expected to work without the required resources or necessary level of control required to actually complete the required tasks.
  • Employees are expected to do work without the knowledge / skills / experience they need to succeed.
  • Employees are expected to work to impossible deadlines.

Why Managing Performance Well is Good For Employee Wellbeing

The result: employees who are stressed, burnt out, sick, or totally disengaged. There is plenty of evidence available about current engagement figures that indicate this is a significant problem in many organisations.

Here are some practical things you can do to ensure that your employees have a reasonable number of realistic goals:

  • Give employees training and regular reminders about how to write goals. It’s not an easy skill to master. If you only do the goal setting process once a year, it’s easy to forget best-practices. Make goal setting (and review) a more regular occurrence - consider doing this exercise quarterly. In your training make sure you remind managers to consider workload when assigning goals.
  • Provide written instructions for writing good goals and provide examples right within your performance management solution. Using your HR solution/s as tools to provide structure, regularity and guidance is essential in providing ongoing feedback to employees. Regular review and reminders for both employees and managers is a great way to remind your teams to consider workload when writing and assesing goals.
  • If your organisation has a culture of stress and burn-out, limit the number of goals that can be added to an individual's performance plan.
  • Involve employees in the overall strategy and goal writing process within your organisation. Crowd sourced participation from your team increases engagement and buy-in.  Sometimes, employees know better than their manager about how long things take and how much work they can manage. Involving them in the goal setting process fosters a dialogue about workload, performance and expectations. As a bonus, employees also tend to be more engaged when they help set overall as well as their own goals.
  • Include ongoing goal review sessions as part of your performance management process. Invite managers and employees to meet regularly to review progress on goals and make any workload adjustment to ensure work-life balance and wellness.

Make Managing Employee Performance an Ongoing Activity

Ideally, performance management should be an ongoing dialogue and activity, enhanced by the best HR technology. Managers and employees should be talking every day about workload, performance, development needs, etc. Managers should be coaching and guiding their employees, ensuring expectations are clearly set and understood, but also that the employee has what they need to succeed.

When performance management is an ongoing process, it’s easy to identify and address problems as they arise — particularly those related to stress, work-life balance and wellness.

You can encourage this year round dialogue by:

  • Educating and supporting managers in their role so they are more comfortable and proficient in coaching for great performance and work-life balance.
  • Including more frequent reviews in your process. Performance management software now has built in, agile functionality that enables ongoing real-time and 360 degree feedback, in addition to more traditional periodic reviews.
  • Using a performancement management solution that enables you to include your employees in important decision making processes, as well as giving you the opportunity to then communicate such information throughout your business easily and effectively. Find your organisation a software solution that enables you to cascade strategic pivots and goal related updates throughout your business quickly.
  • Encouraging the use of performance journals to communicate accomplishments / progress / problems.

Your performance management process can really be a valuable tool for supporting employee wellness. This isn't just good for the wellbeing of your most valuable assets, it is also great for your bottom line. Healthy, happy employees are much more engaged and much productive than a cohort of individuals who are stressed and barely able to cope. The bonus is, that managing performance is something your organisation no doubt already does. You just need to ensure you’re using the latest methodologies, coupled with the most forward thinking software. Find a solution that facilitates the most efficient and thorough processes, encourage best-practices and help managers and employees to work together to cultivate a healthy work environment.

In a world where stress, burn-out and overwhelm are the norm, it is a smart business choice to use tools that enhance your organisation's capacity to relieve the burden on your employees. Intelligent performance management software can provide relief for both HR Professionals and employees by providing tech enabled solutions to managing your teams in ways that are democratic, easy, intuitive, real-time and have a lasting positive impact that improves employee engagement.

Want to learn more about how to integrate strategy, values, culture, goals, development and action plans, real-time and 360 feedback across every touchpoint within your performance management process? To discover how Subscribe-HR's Pi (∏) Performance Management solution can help you enhance employee skills, development, behaviour and overall employee wellbeing, start by watching this short video.

Topics: performance management, Employee Wellbeing, Employee Engagement, Managing performance

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