2022 brought with it a quiet sense of familiarity – not just with masks and booster shots, but also with recent workplace developments making themselves further at home in our lives. Where there was once rush hour and 9 to 5, there is now Zoom and household chores fit between virtual meetings. It makes sense, then, that performance management has also evolved to fit our new understanding of work. With annual reviews gradually leaving their place to consistent feedback, and toxic work practices being banished to allow for open employee communication, the latest corporate performance management trends are the ones you’ve probably already become acquainted with.
Mental Health is the New Wealth
Within the next 3-5 years, the impact of the pandemic on mental health services is expected to range between £1.6 billion and £3.6 billion. 1 Spending days on end at home, increasing numbers of people are continuing to suffer from burnout and are finding it difficult to thrive professionally. With collective burnout, however, comes collective focus on its cause and potential solutions.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the beginning of 2022 was marked by Dr. Julie Smith’s Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before sat at the #1 spot of the Sunday Times Bestsellers list for weeks on end. We are more interested than ever in learning about our mental and emotional states, and more inclined than ever to prioritise our mental wellbeing over ‘hustle’ culture. And such self-discovery inevitably brings with it a focus on mental health in the workplace as well.
So how can mental wellbeing be assessed as an emerging performance management metric? While the platform to assess happiness does not exist yet, new technology is being developed every day to manage moods. Perhaps the first way in which things are changing, then, is that people are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to managing mental performance. And with this, employees are becoming more inclined to provide feedback on workplace environments without necessarily being prompted to do so. In other words, increasing mental wellness awareness is bringing with it the courage to change what might not be working. In corporate fields where employees might not be providing regular feedback, on the other hand, management is now creating the time to seek feedback in order to encourage work/life balance.
Future performance management trends will no doubt rely mostly on the correlation between mental wellbeing and productivity.
Freelancers Aren’t Just for Small Businesses Anymore
If you are on any form of social media, it is safe to say you’ve come across an ad for a specialised coach at least once. In 2022, coaching is taking an increasingly corporate-friendly form and making its way right into the workplace. It’s not just speakers that are being brought in by companies. It’s authors, yoga instructors, and even massage therapists. With employee health being carried into the spotlight during the pandemic, companies are now increasingly seeking help from sectors that might be outside of their scope. And instead of hiring full-time professionals, they are collaborating with experts to lead both online and in-person workshops and retreats.
Bringing in freelancers, however, also brings with it the question of how to evaluate performance. If someone is only part of your team for a day or two, how do you evaluate their impact on company performance when assessing future budget allocations? While one way to do this is by measuring employee attendance at these sessions and seeking feedback from the attendees, another way to proceed is by evaluating employee productivity following these types of events.
In the future, also keep an eye out for new technologies regarding freelance hiring platforms with built- in feedback.
WFH is Here to Stay
You better invest in a good coffee machine and a pair of blue-light glasses because working from home is here to stay. A concept we got accustomed to during the first lockdown, working from home has now widely become the norm with many businesses limiting their days in the office. Spending work days outside of the office, of course, brings with it many challenges. Management-employee contact is limited, workplace banter is eradicated, and it becomes more and more difficult to separate work hours from personal time. Indicators of performance are suddenly reduced to a single dimension, with the main metric being employee output devoid of any kind of presence within a team.
Emerging working from home trends in performance management, most importantly, will need to keep in mind that performance is not solely dependent on the number of spreadsheets or presentations completed. Latest performance management trends and technologies will therefore focus not just on task completion but also on work/life balance in order to optimise productivity even while working from home. Boundaries will continue to play an important role in ensuring there is a clear definition of work hours and expectations from this allocated timeframe.
Performance as a Multi-Faceted Concept
With WFH culture and developments in mental health awareness, the future of performance management will not rely on pre-set assessment criteria but rather on a plethora of considerations such as participation, satisfaction, and motivation. Did a team ask to be enrolled in Japanese classes while preparing for a big launch in Tokyo? Did an employee ask to be provided therapy in order to revive enthusiasm for his work? It is likely that all such incentives will soon be part of a more nuanced approach to performance management which takes into consideration all employee initiatives without penalisations for hardship. This will also play a key part in retaining and attracting high quality talent.
Expect work hours to become increasingly flexible and micro-management increasingly rare. Further employee freedom will allow focus on overall wellbeing and a surge in productivity, adding an emotional layer to performance management metrics.