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October 2020
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TD Magazine

Are Your Employees Productive?

With business leaders focused on measuring employee productivity, managers need to increase the frequency of performance conversations.

Performance improvement is an essential capability for talent development professionals to have an impact on their organizations. Executives' renewed interest in measuring employee productivity suggests shifting expectations for performance management programs.

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Reflektive's 2020 Performance Management Benchmark Report surveyed 445 HR professionals and business leaders and 622 employees to understand how each feels about their company's performance management in 2020 and how that has changed since 2018.

From 2018 to 2020, HR professionals and business leaders saw their intentions for performance management shift. More are now saying that the purpose is to improve employee productivity (27 percent, up from 7 percent in 2018), while fewer are saying that the purpose is for improving employee performance or for instilling a feedback culture (from 40 percent to 31 percent and 20 percent to 5 percent, respectively).

As such, employee productivity is the leading measure of performance management's health, with more than half of respondents pointing to that metric, compared with other measures, such as employee engagement and employee retention.

The focus on employee productivity indicates companies' emphasis on measuring how well employees perform their duties to organizational standards and how much they get done during the time they are working. With many adopting work-from-home policies, organizations may turn to their performance management process to determine causes of rising or falling employee productivity. More frequent check-ins with employees are key.

Business leaders and employees agree that the individuals responsible for driving those conversations are managers. But they have work to do. Despite the goal of managers leading frequent check-ins, 86 percent of HR professionals and business leaders report that those reviews occur quarterly, biannually, or annually. Only 4 percent reported that check-ins happen more frequently than quarterly.

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On the employee side, more than one-third reported in 2020 wanting coaching and feedback from their managers monthly or more frequently, up from about one-fifth in 2018.

A solution could be to better help employees solicit feedback from their managers; one in four don't know how to initiate that discussion. And even when they do, 30 percent don't always feel empowered to do so.

About the Author

I'm a developmental editor at ATD Press, working primarily with books. I joined the ATD team in December 2014. I review manuscripts and team up with authors to produce well-written and well-developed books. Before ATD, I worked as a jack-of-all-trades editor for a small editing and design firm in DC. with a focus on economic and development reports. I have a master's in publishing from George Washington University.

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