One of the most significant changes to businesses during COVID-19 has been the large-scale work-from-home policies that almost all companies implemented. While some businesses may have partially or fully practiced this for a few years already, it has never in the history of the world been at this level.
As many business owners are eager to get their staff back in the office, they may find that a majority of their team members have enjoyed their newfound freedom of working from home with zero commute time and no travel costs.
Some companies have already announced that they will be completely work-from-home going forward. Some employees may switch companies to find a more flexible employer if pressure to show up in the office five days a week is too high.
Chances are that the remote work trend that was accelerated by COVID-19 will not fade away. There will be other trends that will continue to shape work-from-home habits such as:
- Virtual reality technology
- Video and collaboration technology (Teams, Slack, Zoom, etc.)
- Longer commute times due to re-emerging traffic congestion
- Hassle of all the new “cleanliness rules” when coming into the office
- Real estate prices driving workers to live further away from work
- Commercial real estate prices and parking rates
- Security concerns as home internet often is less secure than being in office
If work-from-home is becoming the new normal for many organizations, a number of new questions arise including:
- How do companies assure that their team members are as- or more efficient as they were when working at the office?
- How do managers operate when they rarely ever meet their team members other than virtually on video calls?
Let’s take a closer look at both of these important items.
Efficient Workforce Planning Strategies and KPIs
Increasingly, executives are doubling down on two-way transparency. In other ways, the sharing of how you are doing as a company and how each team member is performing against agreed upon goals. In order for this to work, employ performance-based compensation plans and processes.
Next, tools must be implemented to track metrics and provide reports. Imagine dashboards and scorecards with personal KPIs and traffic lights. This is the recommended approach according to many management gurus. Use top down sharing of strategies and goals that support the KPIs, broken down from company to department to individuals. Then, as results come in, bottom-up sharing of how team members as well as departments performed versus goals.
Specifically, with likely strong growth in work-from-home trends, executives are already pondering how to ensure that employees are engaged, efficient and goal driven as they conduct their work from their bedroom or living room. With limited oversight and old-school micromanagement quickly fading, personal KPIs for work are rapidly growing in popularity. However, setting the best possible goals for employee KPIs can be a bit of science in itself.
Often attributed to the management guru, Peter Drucker, and first used by George T. Doran in 1981, the acronym, SMART, is used to guide goal setting. Here is an overview of SMART goals:
- Specific – simple, sensible, significant
- Measurable – meaningful, motivating
- Achievable – agreed, attainable
- Relevant – reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based
In the years ahead, organizations both in public and private sector, will increasingly explore and try out individual KPIs, and those that are most successful with it are better equipped to build thriving organizations that are “future proof”.
Key Elements of Remote Workforce Planning
Managing and growing employees successfully has always been an area that can put a company ahead of its competitors. Companies spend money on benefits, training, education, and compensation plans to improve their staff. However, organizations promote from within, without experience, and do not train the new managers. This was a failing process and the future will require better managers with a higher percentage of employees working from home.
Define Job Descriptions
The starting point is the most important. For each position, a manager needs a job description with the six to eight main responsibilities of the role along with the KPIs that will be set each year. Define what makes a successful candidate and a candidate that would fail in the role. Each employee receives this document from the manager and then the manager reviews it in a meeting to ensure both understand the expectations.
There are many ways of coming up with the main roles and responsibilities of the position. Interview people currently in the role, research online, talk to the HR department, and discuss with other managers. Keep the list of responsibilities concise, but include details. The more details around each role will enable the employee to understand the role and improve their chances of success.
Pinpoint the KPIs that will Define the Role.
The manager should explain how he/she will measure each KPI in the role and what is a success or a failure. Describe where the data comes from and how the KPI is calculated. Then sit with the employee and document what the goals for each KPI by a specific period will be. Ensure that the employee is onboard and agrees that they can achieve their goals. If numbers are set that they do not believe in, then you may lose the employee early on in the process.
Review and Finalize the KPIs
Historically, managers would have an annual review that tried to encapsulate what happened over the year, but typically only highlighted the last few months as that is all that most remember. In a year like 2020, it becomes even more difficult with the rapid shift to remote work.
Start now – meet with the employee monthly, show the KPI goal, the results to date, and a variance. Include a traffic light on each KPI to show whether the employee is succeeding (green), failing (red), or in the middle (yellow). For all yellow and red items document action items that the employee needs to do to improve upon those that are below the goal.
Now, when you meet, the manager simply reviews the numbers and the prior action items. Many of the work from home efficiency concerns go away and it is all about productivity. Below is an example of a simple scorecard for a manager to review with a consultant that includes actual data, the goal, variance with traffic lights, and goals for the next four quarters.
By doing this across the board, the culture changes to become a highly productive workforce. Good employees want to work with other good employees. This culture helps build a profitable company with high growth. Terminate the employees that regularly do not meet their goals, but in a way that is clear from day one.
Benefits of Automated Workforce Planning Software and KPI Management
Whether your KPIs and workforce planning requirements are simple enough to be handled in Excel or currently using a modern planning and budgeting tool, now may be a good time to think about ways to combine budgeting, workforce planning, reporting and KPI management into a single solution.
So, whether caused by an unfortunate virus outbreak or technology trends affecting your industry, having effective workforce planning tools and plans to be ready for a reforecast is always going to reduce stress and blood pressure for the organization’s management team.