With the world working from home since the start of the Covid pandemic, organisations have had to revamp their routine. Perhaps, the human resources team has faced the biggest overhaul of operations. Reinventing the conventional process of conducting interviews, employee engagement and performance appraisals have been significant challenges faced by HR personnel. Irrespective of the size of the organisation or industry, the past two years have required businesses to be fast-learning and adaptive.

In this scenario, performance management platforms have come as a boon for companies and employees adjusting to a new normal. These platforms, which automate the HR process, use objectives and key results (OKR) to streamline organisational goals with individual targets. Enterprises have experienced a seamless transition from work-from-office to work-from-home and recorded ease in planning, monitoring and evaluating employee performance in a remote world, compared to measuring progress manually.

Profit is one such company that provides a completely OKR-based software solution that has helped company executives save 15 per cent due to productivity. Senthil Rajagopalan, President & COO of Profit, said HR managers and employees have recorded a 45 per cent and 25 per cent savings from productivity since using Profit. The time spent on performance appraisals has decreased from 96 hours over 4 weeks to 50 hours in 2 weeks after employing this software.

With the appraisal process becoming more “transparent” and “fair”, employee grievances have reduced by over 30 per cent, he added. Employees have recorded higher satisfaction since using the management platform due to a number of factors. Apart from the flexibility in choosing peers for reviews and ease of completing formalities, the automated workflow gives them regular updates of their appraisal, enabling submissions on time. There is complete transparency as employees can track their contributions throughout the year which helps them present their best self in the appraisal process, increasing their confidence.

Jason Crow, Founder & CEO of Juvo, a San Francisco based company providing legal services, said about 90 per cent of the work was done in the field earlier, all of which had to shift virtually. “OKRs forced us to actually make decisions and truly prioritise with periodic check-ins, commenting and chatting features driving conversations.”

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The software platform acted as a touchstone that aligned the team and continually got everyone on the same page, he added.

Some organisations have engaged such HR tools to increase transparency within the team and erase the blind spots. Suntech, a product company headquartered in Kerala with 1,000 employees, used this platform to bring in flexibility in conducting different types of reviews and increase visibility throughout the organisation.

The simple reports and integrated dashboard helped the HR team have a clear overview of the employees’ work while functioning remotely. Employees were evaluated continuously and received instant feedback and recognition on the platform based on their performance score and individual achievements instead of a conventional year end rating with little scope for constructive conversations. The software thus does not compromise on ensuring high employee morale and engagement even with the team in separate work-spheres.

Jakub Sierzchała, CEO of VanKing, a motor vehicle parts company in Poland, said a performance management platform helped better track and control what was going on in the organisation without the need to hop on a Zoom or phone call. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the company’s EBITDA was up 35 per cent, which Jakub attributes to the culture that the company has created surrounding OKRs, as well as a rise in demand.

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With the flexibility to see when someone has checked in, the progress of KPI (Key Performance Indicator), and the ability to respond through comments and have a conversation all within the platform, it has made communication quicker and effective. This streamlining has reduced endless meetings and messages that overwhelm inboxes and dilute priorities and productivity during the pandemic.

“It’s being able to avoid those conversations, or coming to those conversations really well-prepared already because… everyone knows all the information, and you can come with solutions as opposed to diagnosing the problem,” a Washington-based development associate adds.

ZingHR, another tech-driven human resource management provider focused on ‘outcomation’ or delivering tangible business results, has also helped simplify the strategies of multiple companies working remotely. Vijay Raghavan, Chief Of Culture and Performance at ZingHR, said Covid-19 has accelerated digitisation and heralded a paradigm shift towards the ‘work from anywhere’ model. With the blurring of geographical boundaries, communication and collaboration have emerged as key to sustain momentum.

“HR-tech solutions have played a pivotal role in facilitating a smooth transition towards work from home. Technology has proved to be a boon, be it for conducting virtual meetings, managing the workforce, measuring their performance or even boosting sales,” he added.

From an economic standpoint, Covid-19 has increased productivity in the office sector, with work from home saving time and resources in transportation that can be utilised for additional deliverables. However, it has sparked concerns about overall health and wellness, especially mental well-being. More and more companies are becoming conscious of this fact and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure employee wellness.

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Keeping the workforce motivated across geographies is a formidable challenge. Employee engagement is gaining currency as crucial for talent retention in organisations worldwide. “We have regular outreach programmes to connect with our employees and celebrate a lot of days involving our employees. Regular check-ins are also done through surveys on their well being,” said Vijay.

Technology is an enabler to redefining a HR function but the human experience is the centrepiece, he added. “Tech can’t replace touch.”

The writer was an intern at BusinessLine’s Mumbai Bureau

Performance management platforms

Shift to virtual world

Increase transparency

Streamline productivity

HR-tech solutions

Employee wellness