Now that we’ve settled into the new year, it’s time to look ahead at the performance management trends that professional services firms should be paying attention to in 2022. Some are continuations of what we saw in 2021, especially as the pandemic continued and the Great Resignation began.
Employers will need to stay on the cutting edge of performance management in order to retain and attract their industry’s top talent. Here’s how professional services firms can be prepared for what’s to come.
1. Continuous feedback and coaching
As the workforce changes, so do their needs. Employees have been asking for more frequent feedback and the chance to improve their performance before their annual evaluations. A Trinet survey showed that 62% of Millennials have felt “blindsided” by a performance review and 85% would feel more confident if they could have more frequent performance conversations with their manager.
While annual evaluations are still key to performance management, continuous feedback and coaching can further improve an organization’s accountability, transparency, and communication. It’s especially suited to professional services firms due to the project-based nature of their client work. Employees need to know how they are doing in real time in order to provide better service to a firm’s clients.
One effective way to do this is by formalizing a feedback and coaching system, which can be easily managed with the help of feedback software. This way, employee progress is kept accountable by the recorded feedback they’ve been given on projects and at checkpoints. That record also comes in handy for the managers, who can use it to remember and contextualize an employee’s performance during their annual evaluations.
2. The human experience
Even before the pandemic, emphasizing “the human experience” over the employee experience was a growing trend in HR. As the conversation continues to evolve, firms are looking at how their performance management can provide meaning, engagement, and satisfaction to employees.
Individual advancement opportunities should be the main focus of performance management. With the increase in remote work, employment options are expanding quickly. Investing in an employee’s individual performance and career progression can help to keep them engaged and happy with their work.
A major part of this is personalization. Nothing makes an employee feel more like a cog in the wheel than being treated impersonally and generically. Personalizing their experience starts with creating individual career plans and aligning their personal goals with the firm’s business goals. This way they are contributing to the organization while advancing their own career. Their personal development plans (PDPs) can also be consulted in order to assign work that is relevant to the employee’s goals and interests.
3. Health and wellbeing
Though it doesn’t sound like a new trend overall, the pandemic has brought health and wellbeing to the forefront again – but it’s about more than just providing health benefits and a wellness program. Struggles with burnout have been exacerbated by the rise of remote work and the blurring of lines between work life and home life. Many professionals have reported working longer hours in remote settings than in the office.
Professional service industries have seen the effects of this during the Great Resignation, in which employees are leaving their jobs in droves for better opportunities and a better work-life balance. Part of this is due to the mentality shift from “live to work” to “work to live,” especially among younger employees. Firms should consider this shift in priorities when evaluating performance and setting goals for individuals.
In order to compete in the talent market, firms are looking for other ways they can enrich the employee experience, including wellbeing as it relates to performance management. By framing performance discussions and plans around employee wellbeing and customizing them based on how each individual is doing, firms can continue to personalize planning to each employee and improve their work experience. This can include incorporating wellness questions into performance discussions or taking mental health into account when managing performance.
4. Hybrid work
Now that the pandemic has caused nearly every industry to adapt to remote work, being able to choose is becoming crucial for employees. Some will be eager to return to the office, while others will prefer to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Having flexibility in these matters can improve the employee experience and further prioritize their health and wellbeing.
Something to watch out for will be keeping performance management equitable throughout hybrid work. If there aren’t objective systems in place, people working remotely could be on the receiving end of bias or perceived bias. Since they aren’t in the office and interacting with evaluators in the same way as others, accuracy and trust will probably suffer if there isn’t an objective evaluation in place.
Hybrid work means manager-employee relationships will need hybrid solutions that bridge the gap between in-office and remote work. Continuous feedback systems prompt employees to regularly ask for help from their managers. This will not only increase communication and collaboration among distributed teams, but can also increase trust between managers and the employees who are working more independently. While managers may not be able to see exactly how the employee is doing, the proper communication will make sure they are still getting results.
5. Data-driven performance management
Performance management involves evaluating employees and giving feedback to employees, but as professional services firms expand and employees work remotely, they may find it hard to get a real sense of how everyone is doing. Firms are interested in turning the performance information they are already collecting into data they can understand and improve on.
Performance management systems can help firms collect and collate evaluation data into the people analytics that they are looking for. Some firms are using performance data to continue personalizing individual performance management and career advancement. Some examples include:
- Analyzing year-over-year trends to see how everyone is advancing and incorporating these results into individual goal plans
- Using performance summary reports to manage offices, departments, or individuals
- Creating ranking reports to pinpoint top performers for advancement opportunities, as well as individuals who need more guidance for development opportunities
There are also numerous ways that firms are looking at how they can improve overall. Performance data can be used to identify gaps in a firm’s competencies and fill them, either through workforce planning or project staffing.
Get ahead of these trends with help from vi by Aderant
Interested in how you can incorporate these trends into your performance management plan this year? Looking for the right system to support these needs? Contact us and we’ll get you started.