Feature Article - July/August 2015

Employee Performance Improvement: Do It Right!

Changing Market Conditions Prompt Focus on Employees

By Deborah L. Vence

Declining workforce productivity, escalating employee disengagement and the ongoing retirement of millions of baby boomers have forced companies to place more attention on their employees today.

"Managing employee performance is steadily rising to the top of many senior leaders' agendas. The fast pace of business, an ultra-competitive marketplace and increasing customer demands have made it difficult for leaders to quickly and effectively respond to ever-changing market conditions," said Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP, vice president of marketing, O.C. Tanner, a Salt Lake City-based company that specializes in employee recognition awards and programs for service, sales, performance and employee motivation services.

Worldwide, corporations are moving quickly to find effective ways to attract and keep the best talent, and to elevate their performance, productivity and service levels to new heights.

"Embodied in this quest is the ability to align individual behaviors with strategic corporate objectives," Smith added. "And, importantly, to motivate and reward those who meet or exceed those objectives."

The Latest Trends

One way to motivate and reward employees is through social recognition, a big trend that Mike Ryan, senior vice president, client strategy, Madison Performance Group, New York, sees a lot of right now.

Social recognition provides tools to employees in order to help them develop meaningful relationships with one another.

It "has dramatically impacted employee recognition," he said.

Most people today carry a variety of web-enabled devices with them, whether it's a smart phone or laptop. Using that same technology to recognize an employee can be of benefit, too. The act of giving and receiving can initiate trust between managers and co-workers, and can travel across an organization.

" You have a powerful range of distance and more relevancy, delivered 24/7 ," he added.

In today's business climate organizations need to achieve maximum return on investment in their people in order to boost corporate performance and gain a competitive advantage.

Worldwide, corporations are moving quickly to find effective ways to attract and keep the best talent, and to elevate their performance, productivity and service levels to new heights.

"Employee performance is everything," Smith said. "It's what distinguishes top-performing companies from those that are struggling."

In fact, statistics show that companies that recognize their employees outperform companies that don't—by 30 to 40 percent.

"Businesses are beginning to understand the value of investing resources to establish, market and support improved performance improvement strategies for one compelling reason: satisfied, motivated and dedicated employees are increasingly critical to corporate survival and imperative for growth," Smith said.

"When senior management discusses motivating employees, the conversation typically turns to 401(k) plans, healthcare benefits, stock options and other compensation vehicles," Smith said.

"This must change if leaders expect to take advantage of the full arsenal of tools available to help them achieve their corporate objectives," she said. "Research is proving that employee performance programs are powerful and effective vehicles for boosting corporate performance and the bottom line."

In addition, "escalating workplace demands in our still recovering economy have created organizations where employees don't feel they're valued appropriately by leaders, and employers are overlooking simple solutions to improve employee morale and loyalty through the use of recognition and incentive programs," she said.