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Performing Workplace: Longest Broadway Runmanaging performance in the work force

--Anjana Srikanth

The newest nomenclature for an employee: Knowledge Worker.

A knowledge worker creates knowledge, knows how to tap and share it across an organization, and then reuse this knowledge whenever necessary – and he usually works against a deadline like yesterday. A superhuman task indeed! From where does a knowledge worker gain succor?

Corporate intelligence

What’s the nature of corporate knowledge today? Unstructured documents and other implicit forms of knowledge like records form implicit knowledge while the knowledge that is hidden within the company such as company methodologies for formulating and solving problems, skills obtained on the job and corporate best practices are tacit knowledge. The latter is more difficult to elicit except in conversational meetings where work is actually done and individuals actually absorb and add to knowledge.

The service-oriented economy of today projects the knowledge worker at center stage. Most companies depend on constant innovation and believe in investing in the best minds. Employee relationship management solutions provide a new opportunity to introduce efficiency into key processes involving their most valuable asset – the workforce.

In the past, companies invested heavily in ERP and CRM solutions to manage their supply chains and customer relationships. One area that remained neglected was the workforce-related activities like routine administration tasks that employees must perform everyday in their jobs.

ERM drivers

The recognition that the internal employee process can be optimized with the application of the right technology is a key driver in utilizing an ERM solution. The current state of the global economy also introduces a sense of urgency in companies to watch costs closely and increase efficiencies.

Why are ERM solutions attractive?

By tapping into the tacit and explicit knowledge existent within an organization and also being able to assess the performance of the workforce, executives and leaders are able to implement new business strategies and make informed decisions in a shorter time. It goes without saying that employee productivity levels increase and customer-facing employees ensure that customers are also well taken care of.

ERM packages are a new breed of software applications that streamline the processes involved in acquiring, managing and training employees. They are attractive solutions that focus on making the employee more productive and make internal applications more visible and boost compliance with company policies.

Apart from lowering costs, they bring in unprecedented efficiencies in day-to-day employee tasks such as travel planning, expense reporting, time tracking and indirect procurements.

Going by the nomenclature existing for ERM applications like Workforce Relationship Management (WRM) and Workforce Management (WFM), these applications add value to managing the employee lifecycle activities like hiring, managing, training and retention.

IDC predicts that market sizes for ERM applications range from $4 billion in 2001 to more than $17 billion in 2004.

Activities that are affected by an ERM package:

  • Workforce acquisition and management
  • Candidate tracking
  • Hiring
  • Labor scheduling
  • Time keeping
  • Performance reviews
  • Expense reporting
  • E-learning
  • Travel management

Lets take a look at a common scenario that exists in today’s businesses: Mergers and Acquisitions!

They offer a flagrant solution for a tottering economy! They spawn a symbiotic relationship that helps combine profits, consolidate services and also springs up a collective, albeit disgruntled workforce. Well, you may say that increased ROI is what the merger aimed at. Yes, indeed, but don’t employees play a vital role in determining ROI levels?

Renewed and combined forces in a merger battling the carnage-strewn pathways with new and innovative strategies and newfangled visions do promise to deliver the goods. But, concentrating on immediate revenue is one thing and calculating all the risks involved at the same time is another. Studies have clearly shown that the new organizational workforce in a merger is usually left in a state of joint confusion. They feel stranded and can’t find a place to fit in the new business model. Employee morale takes a beating and people begin to look at better avenues and organizations to move on to.

Experience has shown that rapid expansions and mergers cause team productivity levels to decline at an alarming rate. Aligning the newfound organizational dream with what each employee imagines it to be is the first approach towards addressing this concern.

Training employees and motivating them to work towards the newly defined (not clearly defined!) endeavor is a Herculean task. Targeting the right kind of training to individuals and then assessing these skills can help make informed decisions not just at the employee level but also at the loftier levels of leadership.

Traditional training that is imparted in discrete packets some how doesn't fit in with the rest of the organizational plans. Individual departments have their own agenda and this doesn’t always address core organizational issues. Employees learn skills that don’t fit in with the overall vision of the organization. As business strategies change in an incomprehensible manner they don’t have a clue about where their careers are heading.

Without a centralized monitoring system, managers can’t assess performance or even gain access to appraisal reports. Constant monitoring of skills in order to appraise performance levels is the need of the hour. Also, the company executives have no idea how to monitor performance levels. Performance reviews are not accurate and individual promotional hierarchies are not therefore maintained.

Outdated information, low employee morale and the lack of targeted training are some of the challenges posed by the existing work model. The solution entails implementing an enterprise-wide solution to help, track and manage employee performance, start e-learning initiatives and grow a library of custom online courses.

Benefits of implementing ERM:

The finance department saves on costs and improves efficiencies, while gaining tighter control over cash and productivity. Routine tasks get taken care of, thus resulting in faster and more improved decision-making.

A common platform that supports tens of thousands of users and integrates users in different departments helps reduce paperwork and the time spent on jobs. On and offline access makes it easy to complete time-critical tasks anytime taking employee satisfaction to a higher plane.

Managing performance in the workplace:

With company business rules built in to ERM packages, corporate policies are enforced automatically. Using the enterprise information portal, employees acquire visibility to preferred vendors like car rental companies, airlines, hotels and office equipment suppliers. While making travel plans or allotting time for projects, and even replacing paper-based expense reporting, an ERM solution takes care of it all.

Mac, Unix and PC diehards can work on a consistent web-based interface without any problems. A traveling employee can input expenses offline, even from an airplane and then submit them through the Internet later on.

Employees develop efficiency in preparing reports and tracking them, thus improving sales and administration teams. The Finance department is happier due to a lesser work volume and lesser rework, eventually reducing the number of checks that they need to issue.

Corporate wide skills assessment that match skills and competencies with the status of the current organizational skills, and other skills management techniques can be implemented within the spectrum of tools that form the arsenal of an ERM package. Skills management, skills gap analysis, personalized training – an integrated self-service package for any organization.

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