Aug. 6, 2019 1422

HR crisis: how to make employees more efficient

“Employees are inefficient”, “they misunderstand their tasks”, “we’re not getting desired results” - this is heard increasingly often from CEO’s and other executives. Management, as usual, blames the staff, calling them low-skilled, infantile, passive whet it comes to decision-making as well as other unflattering epithets. HR-related websites are full of tips on what approach to use with millennials, what with Generation Z, etc. Particularly popular are articles with titles like 28 Ways to Motivate and Retain Employees. Some recommend to only hire employees aged 35+, that is, serious people with actual experience. However, all these tips don’t seem to work in practice. So how can you achieve the results you want?

Countries with developed economies realized long ago that the reason for employee inefficiency most often lies not in the employees themselves, but in the processes. As a result of poor organization, employers and employees understand the work process, its goals and objectives differently. After all, the quality of a person’s work depends in many ways on the environment, management and systems into which he is integrated. The trick is to set up your business so that everything would rely on the coherence of processes and not just on specific people. In the meantime, let's talk about the most common mistakes employers make when dealing with employees.

1. The employer does not fully understand what he wants from the employee

When hiring a person, the employer expects him to perform his duties perfectly by default. However, for a person to be truly effective, you must bring him up to date by showing him work examples, explaining his areas of responsibility and introducing him to his immediate supervisors – at the very least.

Thus, if an employee works poorly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he lacks qualifications or that he is not cut out for his position. Perhaps he simply hasn’t been properly integrated into the system, meaning that he does not understand what he is responsible for and before whom, as well as what results are expected from him.

Lawyer’s perspective

It’s difficult to clarify all your expectations for an employee and set specific tasks when issuing a hiring order. Job descriptions are also often perfunctory and do not explain the employee's actual roles and tasks. That’s what employment contracts are for, which allow employers to spell out all the terms of a job: duties, work schedule, rules of conduct, KPI’s, etc.

2. A new person is a panacea for accumulated problems

Employers often assume that they can solve existing problems by hiring the right specialist. However, in order for this to work, you must control all processes and indicators. It is particularly important to assess at the initial stage how well the direction has been chosen and the tasks assigned, as well as to make swift adjustments to the process should the need arise. Without this, system processes may fall apart and we could get the opposite effect after hiring our long-anticipated specialist.

Lawyer’s perspective:

For this, employer can make use of internal regulations, such as regulations on staff evaluation. Written employment contracts and detailed job descriptions will also help clarify your expectations and processes to employees. Indicate in the contract when and what KPI’s earn them bonuses – link these indicators to the results that the company expects from a particular category of employees. It’s important to draw up these documents with the help of an HR specialist and a lawyer, to make sure that they comply with the company’s specifics and the law.

3. The employer and employee interpret results of a task differently

It also happens that the company has already decided on financial and non-financial evaluation systems, but the KPI’s of specific employees show that their work is not effective enough. In this case, you should make sure that the employees are not only assigned tasks but are also informed of what the expected outcome of these tasks is. An effective and competent manager not only describes what function an employee performs, but also what results he must achieve. It is also important to set the deadline and explain how the results are going to be measured: by growth of customer base, subscriber base, financial indicators, etc.

Lawyer’s perspective:

Fixed periods for employment contracts provide an additional incentive to employees to show good results and extend the contract. The latter can be made to contain provisions on a system of individual motivation, including bonuses or raise.

4. Lack of communication between management and mid to low level employees

Analyze how effectively immediate supervisors work with the employees that are lagging behind. Are they provided with timely feedback? Employees spend time on their job and want feedback: what their work is for, whether they are on the right track, how effective they are, etc. If employees are getting no feedback, they aren’t learning from their mistakes, which demotivates them over time because they start thinking that they are doing nothing of importance that no one really needs. That is why constant communication regarding small tasks is vital.

There are various management systems for facilitating such communication, like SCRUM, which was originally used in IT and now in other industries as well, such as the legal one. Regular daily meetings and retrospectives are particularly useful in this regard, allowing you to determine the importance of tasks, analyze them and distribute them among employees properly, as well as, again, to provide feedback.

The supervisor-subordinate relationship is hopelessly outdated. Today everyone wants to work in teams with a blurred hierarchy, which is why it’s important for employers to have tools for evaluating the work of their employees, primarily to be able to spot a problem in time and, if possible, set it right. These principles of work organization will allow you to increase the effectiveness of individual employees as well as the entire team.

Lawyer’s perspective:

If you know what you want from a particular employee and can develop KPI’s for his tasks, the law can provide you with simple and effective tools. So far, written employment contracts have been predominantly used by large companies or foreigners. Small and medium businesses have taken a different approach, using the unofficial part of salaries to pay bonuses or impose penalties. However, we are confident that this is going to change soon: more and more employees want transparency and fairness, which may be the reason why many of them are leaving the country and their companies.

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