How HR trends shape performance management

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min read
March 12, 2024
March 12, 2024
HR trends shape performance management
In this article

We explore the current and future trends which have shaped where performance management sits today and influence how it evolves in the future

Labour relations, personnel, payroll. HR has been known as many things over the years as the function has evolved. From its origins in administration, it has now become much more than that, involved in everything connected with people in an organisation. It now oversees everything from wellbeing and development to engagement and culture and many things in between.

Once the preserve of senior management, performance management now sits very firmly within HR’s remit. The evolution of HR and the trends around people management has had a huge impact on performance management itself, taking it from a process that was “done” to employees, to one that involves close collaboration between line managers and employees.

Here are just some of the HR current and future trends which have shaped where performance management sits today and influence how it evolves in the future.

Bringing people to the fore

Over the past few years, there’s been a growing emphasis on making HR more approachable and employee oriented. Less of a function that enforces management rules, and more about supporting employees to reach their full potential.

There has been a move away from the use of the word “human” which can feel a bit aloof towards “people”, which feels more relatable. You can see this with the evolution of job titles, with “Chief People Officer” or “Head of People” gaining in popularity.

Performance management has gone through a similar evolution, with the focus now firmly on employees taking ownership of their development, rather than being told what to do and how to do it. Instead of dictating what objectives employees are working on, line managers and employees are much more likely to sit down together and come up with goals collaboratively. This allows people to be seen as individuals with their own needs and desires rather than a homogeneous, faceless workforce.

Focus on employee experience

As part of seeing each employee as their own person, the importance of employee experience has increased.. Coupled with the drive to create fairer, more inclusive workplaces where everyone feels comfortable to be themselves, HR are now much more focused on building an environment employees want to be a part of.

This trend also recognises the balance of power has changed between employers and employees. With almost a million jobs to be filled across the UK and the growth of the gig economy, employees have more options open to them about how and where they work than ever before. Recognising the importance of the employee experience and supporting it through business processes has become vital in the war for talent.

This focus on employee experience has led to organisations tailoring their performance management process to the needs of teams and the individuals within them. It recognises that often departments will have different requirements, with their own review cycle. Also, how much guidance and support employees need often depends on their experience and role. Giving managers the flexibility to set their own cadence for check-ins with the members of their team which reflects their needs helps to build a better employee experience within the organisation.

Embracing technology

The rise of HR technology has dramatically changed the function. Taking away much of their administrative burden, technology has allowed HR professionals the time to concentrate on more strategic activities which add value to the business. More of their focus now lies on areas such as talent acquisition and development, employee engagement and workplace wellbeing.

Technology also enables employees to take more control of their own development. With the introduction of performance management platforms, employees can do a host of different activities to shape their own development and that of their colleagues, such as give feedback and recognition, request check-ins or record progress on their objectives.

This self-service functionality has helped make the performance management process more dynamic and collaborative, helping to make it part of everyday work and not just something that comes up once a year.

Harnessing the potential of AI

AI has the potential to radically change how people work, so the impact on HR is likely to be significant. So far, initiatives are mostly in their infancy, but this promises to change over the next few years. Generative AI will rapidly accelerate learning and upskilling employees. It has the power to enhance productivity, quality and consistency.

HR has a huge role to play in helping employees to adopt these new tools and creating guidelines for how they should be used. AI should be seen as augmenting human capabilities rather than replacing them. HR need to be involved in helping remove the fear and trepidation around AI, highlighting the benefits and mitigating the risks.

When it comes to performance management, AI could be hugely beneficial. It has the power to analyse huge amounts of data quickly and effectively, transforming reporting capabilities, identifying trends and anomalies, that can shape more effective plans and highlight what areas need attention. However, it cannot be allowed to replace the human element. For example, if feedback is to be useful it must remain personal and not be written by a tool. HR professionals will need to play a pivotal role in making sure AI enhances the move towards a tailored, personal experience and doesn’t suppress it.

In many ways the development of HR mirrors the changes in performance management philosophies. They have both become much more about people, recognising these are a businesses most important asset.

If you want to make sure your performance management process is supporting, guiding and motivating your people as effectively as it can, we can help. Contact us to find out more.

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