January 27, 2021
Rebecca East

2020 and people-centric management

Understanding your employees work/life blend to improve business performance and drive engagement

It’s fair to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on employees’ work and professional lives, as well as on business priorities overall. Understanding what motivates your employees – and addressing how to prioritise those things - is vital to business performance. 

At OpenBlend, we believe that work/life balance is an outdated idea that implies our work and life exist in opposition to each other. Instead, it takes a Blend of elements from our professional and personal lives for us to feel fulfilled, for us to thrive and for us to excel within our chosen field. Work/life balance suggests that life stops at work and starts again when you finish, when in reality, work is often an important part of who we are and what we do.  

How does work-life Blend work? 

Each OpenBlend user creates their optimum Blend of 8 key drivers from a menu of 28 and scores their current and target levels of fulfilment out of 10. Blend drivers include elements such as: fulfilment at work, health and exercise, money and effective use of time. These 8 key drivers offer organisations and managers a window in to understand what each employee needs to reach their potential at work.  

By capturing an employee’s key Blend drivers in one framework, OpenBlend enables organisations to understand what drives their employees, what elements they need at home and at work to feel fulfilled, happy and productive – and how far off they feel from achieving them. Helping them to better support each and every individual and cultivate people strategies that drive engagement and improve business performance. 

But how does the concept of a work-life Blend stack up in a pandemic? 

Last year, as many of us adjusted to a semi-permanent shift to remote work and management, our personal performance drivers went through an important change.  

Home confinement; juggling personal and family life simultaneously alongside work responsibilities; health anxieties; an absence of freedom – it had an impact. Our motivations have changed and what’s most important to us, has become clearer than ever. 

The reality of Covid-19 on remote management  

It’s been a challenge for everyone and every business, but for those organisations that were under prepared for such a sudden shift to remote work and management, it’s been even tougher.  

While many businesses quickly onboarded new technologies to help and support with remote management, with many taking the opportunity to trial new approaches to performance management – it hasn’t solved the immediate issue at hand: that managers and employers are facing a multitude of new challenges as a result of remote work, with people leaders often ill-equipped and with limited understanding of how to create, discuss and track objectives from a distance. 

The media has reported a huge surge of employees feeling overworked, and under supported by their employers. While reporting that a vast majority of businesses fear a negative impact on productivity and are struggling to stimulate employee experience, employee engagement and company culture remotely. As well as experiencing complications with micromanagement and a breakdown in employee trust as a result of remote work.  

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The impact of the pandemic has been different for each and every organisation. Some businesses are further along in the process of understanding exactly what this impact has been on their workforce, others have limited awareness, and many don’t know where to start. The first step lies in recognising that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to productivity and in understanding how individual drivers and employee needs have a huge sway over business performance.  

OpenBlend Drivers and Data on Demand 

OpenBlend delivers insight into what really drives productivity and what Blend elements make a difference to employee’s ability to perform at the top of their game. With a world class filtering capability that identifies themes and patterns, it enables businesses to find out what’s really going on across their organisation and develop a strategy in real time to help minimise the impact of both internal and external change on business outcomes and performance. 

While none of us could have foreseen the pandemic by using this employee data we can anticipate the steps businesses need to be taking in order to lessen the impact and drive and maintain productivity. 

Using OpenBlend Data On Demand, we have analysed the anonymous employee data of our users to find out just how much the pandemic has swayed individual drivers over the last 12 months, comparing to the employee data recorded in 2019. Through this data we want to emphasise how valuable it is to understand employee needs and motivations across your workforce in order to facilitate the right conversations with individuals, and confidently create meaningful people strategies. 

Key findings 

1) Health and exercise remains the top blend driver, it’s importance across our user base has increased most significantly over the past 12 months 

While this is unsurprising in relation to the pandemic and widespread fears and uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 – how could you use employee data to show your employees you care about their health just as much as they do.  

Could you introduce an ‘exercise hour’ for each and every employee twice weekly, that encourages them to go outside and get some fresh air while it is still daylight - a virtual fitness ‘Zoom’ session, or a weekly virtual yoga session, that your employees can partake in with their family?  

2) ‘Making a difference at work’ has seen a big change and was a more important driver across our user base in 2020 than it was in 2019, overtaking the Blend element of ‘Progression at work’. 

With your employees likely to have spent a large majority of 2020 working and a lot of time at home – they’ve had time to think and really assess what they want from their careers. While progression at works remains in the top ten blend elements of our user base, making a difference overshadows it in importance. People want to feel like they belong, and that their work matters in the bigger picture type of context – more so than ever before. With anxiety over job losses, furlough and the news reporting on widespread unemployment - how can you use this data to ensure every employee knows that they make a difference?  

Equip your managers with the tools that will enable them to have the right sorts of conversations, that will validate every employees' contributions, enable flexible goal setting and promote open and honest feedback. 

3) ‘Flexible working culture’ and ‘Effective team’ now feature in the top ten blend elements of our users. They didn’t rank in the top ten in 2019. 

Glean from this what you will – but we think the results are transparent. People have enjoyed the flexibility that remote work provides but despite this still want to feel part of an effective team. The two side by side can seem contradictory, with feelings of isolation being a disadvantage of remote work it can be hard to imagine the best way of creating sense of ‘team’ while remote. 

What can you introduce to your workforce to ensure that these Blend elements are synonymous with one another? How your employees work together as one, how they communicate, how much they work, how they are rewarded and their sense of belonging and purpose is vital to ensuring that no-one gets left behind.    

Click to view our Top 10 Blend Elements Wrapped 👇

The importance of people-centric performance management  

The key to grasping the intricacies of your workplace and enable sensible steps to solve the challenges borne out of the last year or so lies in a people-centric approach to performance management.  

What does people centric mean?

Becoming people centric is not a ‘thing’ that happens overnight. People centric organisations share a culture that focuses on the employee with their own individual needs. Managers need training and a framework to have effective conversations, they need the authority to make people-centric decisions and enable their teams to explore their work-life blend. And they need a structure that underpins this style of performance management and keeps conversations, accountability and actions on track, whether managing a remote, hybrid or office based team. The OpenBlend platform can help them do just that. 

To find out what people-centric performance management software can do for your business, give OpenBlend a call on 01628 613040, email hello@openblend.com or book a demo with us today.

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