There’s a lot of noise about removing annual performance appraisals in favour of more regular dialogue, which means there are more opportunities for your people to use that voice.  Employees (in particular technology-savvy millennials) want to lead those discussions and look managers in the eye and say, “I’m worth more”, because the evidence is there.  However, 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.  

Consumers 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 Digital Empowerment 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 share 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.

While lots of companies seem to be getting rid of annual appraisal systems altogether, I 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’ll demand to use digital tools just as they do at home.  Tools like this will become more important for attracting and retaining employees – after all, 7 in 10 believe that 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 armoury when asking for a bigger training budget or arguing for pay rises for their star talent.

Yet there’s still pockets of resistance from leaders to invest in digital, although they are fast being left behind..  It’s recently been 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 it is great that HR/OD are beginning to empower their workforce in the same way.  The power of WorkPALis 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 values.  They’re crowdsourcing success from the bottom up, but 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 give them these tools and skills 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’ll 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.