Whether you like it or not, the dynamics of the workplace are changing. This year alone has proved that the way we intend to work can change overnight and if you are not prepared you could be left with a disorientated workforce, unsettled patients and a very concerned board.

COVID-19 has unsettled the world and amplified the employee voice.  Where flexible working was a “request’ it is now expected and when you have large teams across various sites this can be a HR nightmare.  Keeping in constant contact with your team has become even higher on the People Plan agenda.

The performance measurement cycle is no exception. There is a lot of noise about potentially removing annual performance appraisals in favour of more regular dialogue, which means there are more opportunities for your people to use that voice. Employees want to lead those discussions and look managers in the eye and say “I’m worth more” “I can be trusted to work from home”, because the evidence is there. But they also expect their managers and leaders to share that transparency – for them to know and have data on what their people have achieved, to have an idea of their career ambitions, and to know where to build up their skills, especially during a pandemic where uncertainty is prevalent.

Let’s look at it from a different angle…

Consumers, just like me and you,  are getting insights from data through technology every day, whether that’s Amazon suggesting a new product or an algorithm deciding when to present them a Facebook ad for those jeans they were looking at on a website. Now they can see data on hundreds of other people who share their job title or career aspirations and can approach their bosses armed with this evidence of their worth. They expect their employers to be as on top of this data as they are.

Our platform  WorkPAL makes the most of employees’ relationship with technology. With the familiar functions of an app, they can view their objectives and how they fit in with the wider vision, values and goals of the organisation. They can review their progress at any time, give feedback on others’ work and crowdsource knowledge and ideas. Just like they can check what their salary worth is online or see reviews of different workplaces, they can gather data on what they do at work and use this for those all-important performance conversations.

Our technology allows staff to capture evidence as it happens and show their progress against those values, behaviours and goals. Just like their social media apps, they can capture pictures, videos and even customer feedback. Managers can see this data at any time and use it to boost employees’ engagement and confidence through ‘employee of the month’ type awards or ad-hoc pats on the back. All of which keeps the momentum going and fosters a culture of listening and learning.

And while lots of companies seem to be getting rid of annual appraisal systems altogether, we advocate a different route. Yes, those ongoing performance conversations are important, but WorkPAL enables you to keep a record of them, to set expectations and see if they have been met, for employees to ask for support if they need it. So when that annual performance review does come around, it’s a rich, evidence-based conversation. Rather than an employee trying to remember when they last demonstrated an important company value, they have several examples of it in WorkPAL. When they want to justify why they deserve a pay rise, the evidence will be right in front of them.

As new generations come into the workforce, they will expect this level of transparency in just the same way they will demand to use digital tools just as they do in their personal lives. . Tools like this will become more important for attracting and retaining employees – after all, 7  in 10 believe knowing where they fit into the wider organisational strategy has an impact on their engagement, according to the Harvard Business Review. For managers, there are clear benefits too. They have a real-time picture at their fingertips of how everyone in their team is achieving their own goals and working towards those of the rest of the organisation. They can then have those evidence-rich conversations with their own leaders, which means they have an extra tool in their armory when asking for a bigger training budget or pitching  for career development to retain r their star talent.

Yet there remain pockets of  resistance  from leaders to invest in digital. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health  announced that the NHS will develop an app for patients to empower them to make appointments, arrange repeat prescriptions and ask questions about symptoms. So why  not the same in terms of  empowering their workforce?  The power of WorkPAL is that you can give employees control over their objectives and the freedom to share their performance goals, but everything is aligned to the organisation’s vision, values and priorities. They’re crowdsourcing success from the bottom up and have a bird’s eye view of how that’s being achieved – a sense of the temperature of their organisation.

One of the concerns we always hear from CEOs and finance directors is ‘What if we invest in these tools and skills for our staff and they end up leaving us?’ The response is always ‘Imagine if you don’t and they decide to stay?’ Employees will continue to expect more from their managers and leaders – more transparency, more empathy, and more trust in them to achieve the organisation’s goals. They will expect better, more detailed feedback – this trend isn’t going away.

WorkPAL can help your employees see exactly where they fit into the organisation and how they contribute to its success through technology they already know and use everyday. Hesitate too long and they might just go and you could lose out on talent.