In Covid times, companies may embrace new ways to measure employee productivity, says HR experts

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on June 23, 2020

With WFH becoming the new norm, evaluators will focus not just on output but also on how the work was done

Covid-19 has transformed the way people work. By doing so, it has also raised questions about the efficacy of traditional methods of evaluating performance. According to Nasscom, over 95 per cent of 4.36 million employees in the Indian IT industry have moved to work from home soon after the pandemic hit the country. The industry not only escaped unscathed from the disruption but also embraced the model to witness increased productivity and efficiency of employees.

Saundarya Rajesh, Social Entrepreneur and Founder-President of Avtar Group, said: “I believe that systems and processes are going to change for the better with regard to actually seeing the effect that an individual has on the organisation and not just go purely by metrics or by subjective impressions.”

She said, “In this Covid times, women professionals have to manage the entire space of dealing with their family, children and household chores. So, a compassionate organisation will take into account not just the output but also how the work was done.”

For instance, Germany-based medical technology company Siemens Healthineers, which has over 3,400 employees spread across 56 sales offices, two manufacturing units and its largest R&D centre at Bengaluru, said, it has moved away from a performance ratings system to a people-oriented approach.

“With most people connecting virtually, having the right performance strategy is essential for business continuity,” Raghu Chandrashekar, Head HR of Siemens Healthineers India, said, adding, “It’s impossible to wait for a rating-centric annual performance review so we have regular and more frequent eye-level discussions that include setting mutual expectations, exploring learning and development opportunities, and discussing steps to move to their next role.”

“The feedback is collected from multiple stakeholders on performance as well as actively seeking feedback from the employee. Individuals own their development and growth and this has contributed to our new way of working and fostering our desired culture,” he added.

Traditionally, performance evaluation of an employee focuses on productivity, job knowledge and skills, work habits, attitude and teamwork. But with WFH becoming the new norm across industries, human resources experts believe that employers, going forward, will not just focus on the output but also on ‘how’ it was delivered.

“In the era of social distancing, where working remotely is the new normal, companies have to embrace new ways of measuring productivity while ensuring that there’s no dip in work-life balance,” Priya Cherian, Chief People Officer, PayU, said.

PayU India, a leading online payment solutions provider, has been witnessing a tremendous increase in engagement and productivity level of employees. The employees of the company have been working from home for almost four months now.

“We encourage our employees to work with their managers and mentors on productivity metrics and have regular chats with them on their progress. During such times when things are moving fast and many a times basic business principles are getting validated it is important to break the goals into smaller chunks. Hence, at PayU we have done two main adjustments to our performance management system. One, we have introduce Quarterly OKR’s (Objectives and Key Results) that are more short-term based. Secondly, we have built-in 10 per cent of every employee’s goal for their own self development,” Cherian added.

Alok Kumar, Senior Director - Sales, Account Management & Global Accounts at ManpowerGroup India, said the traditional approach of measuring an employees’ performance based on the hours spent in work is going to take a back seat in the post-Covid world.

New responsibility areas

“In our discussions with various HR and business leaders, we understand that the work from home has tremendously increased the workload of a section of people in the organisation while it has drastically reduced the workload for another section due to their nature of work,” Kumar said, adding that corporates have to come up with new key responsibility areas (KRAs).

However, some human resource experts believe while the evaluation process may not undergo any significant change, the evaluators (leaders) have to find new ways to motivate and get the best out of those working from home.

“Now, you have to get the best out of people who are no longer physically sitting in front of you, motivate and inspire them, give meaning and purpose in their lives,” said Hari TN, Head HR at BigBasket, one of India's largest online supermarket.

Published on June 23, 2020

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