The New Employee KPIs: How To Measure Productivity And Performance When Working Remotely

2 March 2021

Is your HR team drowning in the wrong data? KPIs have always been important for keeping a pulse on individual and organizational performance. But some of the KPIs we relied on a year ago are no longer as relevant in our current economic climate or work environment. Without the right metrics, it’s difficult to know how individuals on your team are really doing.

Linking talent to performance is critical, especially in a virtual world. In the absence of our typical in-person connections, people analytics help fill in performance assessment gaps. According to McKinsey, new advancements in people analytics make it easier to develop top performers, increasing business productivity by 25%. This data can help HR teams provide the strategic guidance necessary to navigate the future of work — and it all starts with the right data.

Some KPIs are straightforward and specific to an employee’s role. Employees on your sales team, for example, may be evaluated based on monthly sales growth, monthly calls or emails and quote-to-close ratios. Employees on your IT team may report server downtime, help desk resolution rates, alert-to-ticket ratios and network availability. While it’s worth considering whether department-specific KPIs need to be adjusted, all employees can benefit from two additional KPIs: self-discipline and communication effectiveness.

Self-discipline and communication effectiveness are two KPIs that help HR teams assess employee productivity and performance when working remotely. Both are also “SMART” objectives, which means they are specific, measurable, achievable, relatable and timely:

• Self-discipline is the capacity to work independently and measures an employee’s ability to complete a specific task in an allotted time frame. A straightforward measurement for self-discipline is quantifying how many tasks an employee completes on schedule, omitting tasks where the delay was outside the employee’s control. “Tasks” could be defined as creating a client presentation, drafting new marketing materials or updating a department budget. This is a KPI your team may wish to approach with some flexibility, given the challenges caused by the compression of our personal and professional lives. For example, if an employee is also supervising a child’s remote learning, are they able to catch up on work in the evening so tasks are still complete on time? Do they proactively let team members know when to expect deliverables and then meet this deadline? Measuring self-discipline can help identify employees who are struggling with performance and may be at risk for missing bigger quarterly or annual goals.

• Communication effectiveness is an employee’s ability to communicate clearly with co-workers, clients and vendors/partners. While this one may seem subjective — one person’s clear instructions could be another person’s muddled mess — it’s possible to measure based on an employee’s existing role and responsibilities. For example, if an employee runs a weekly meeting, do they send the agenda in advance? If an employee is responsible for managing a client relationship, do they promptly reply to client emails or calls? Are they clear, polite and concise in their messages? Are their messages free from typos, spelling and grammar errors? If there are recurring video or phone calls, is the employee consistently on time?

Another option is a co-worker assessment, in which employees anonymously rate team members based on criteria like reply promptness, direction clarity and follow-up needs. As part of this KPI measurement, it’s worth refreshing companywide communication expectations for remote work and general availability. You may find there’s a misalignment between when some employees expect to be available on email and instant message versus when their managers expect them to be.

Tracking these KPIs can help flag “at-risk” employees, giving managers an opportunity to help their team course-correct before a milestone is missed. Consider further up-leveling your analytics by using predictive models that proactively identify concerns and recommend real-time solutions, automating data analysis and management.

Improving Feedback Quality: Weekly Coaching Opportunities

Optimizing employee performance takes more than just refining your KPIs. The right data will help you identify employees requiring extra support, but managers and HR must take the next step. Feedback needs to be delivered in a timely manner to be meaningful, actionable and impactful.

Annual reviews have been falling out of favor in recent years due to their after-the-fact, out-of-context feedback approach, and 2020 has only underscored the importance of real-time conversations. When the business climate can change week to week, check-ins must be frequent. Consider opportunities for better integrating feedback into weekly one-on-ones. It’s easy for these meetings to become a summary of the week’s to-do list; instead, set aside time for performance feedback and coaching.

Article Published By: Forbes, “ The New Employee KPIs: How To Measure Productivity And Performance When Working Remotely