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Understanding Employee Underperformance from an HR Perspective

HR manager dealing with employee underperfomance.

Shar­ing the Blame and Respon­si­bil­i­ty for Employ­ee Shortcomings

When an employ­ee fails to meet expec­ta­tions and goals, or if they are habit­u­al­ly under­per­form­ing, it’s a nat­ur­al first reac­tion to want to rep­ri­mand them so that they take respon­si­bil­i­ty for their under­per­for­mance in the future. How­ev­er, before jump­ing to con­clu­sions regard­ing their inef­fi­cien­cies, first assess the sit­u­a­tion in order to deter­mine whether what you per­ceive as employ­ee fail­ure is, in fact, a sim­ple fail­ure to communicate.

While it may be the case that you have a trou­ble­some employ­ee on your hands, there might be anoth­er rea­son why your employ­ees aren’t meet­ing your stan­dards. If you notice a pat­tern of employ­ee under­per­for­mance in your organ­i­sa­tion, you should ques­tion whether your com­pa­ny is guilty of the following.

Neglect­ing the impor­tance of engagement

Employ­ees who are engaged are more moti­vat­ed and pro­duc­tive than those who are unsat­is­fied with their job roles and unin­formed as to how their role influ­ences the organ­i­sa­tion as a whole. Engaged employ­ees are by their very def­i­n­i­tion more like­ly to meet their goals and objec­tives, as they are eager to play their part in achiev­ing organ­i­sa­tion­al success.

Engage­ment is a press­ing con­cern for HR execs, and there are a num­ber of ways to active­ly encour­age employ­ee engage­ment. Recog­ni­tion and reward are both impor­tant fac­tors to con­sid­er. Praise for a job well done is brought into the dig­i­tal age with the use of per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware giv­en its inter­ac­tiv­i­ty and the real-time feed­back it affords.

There is a lack of work­place flexibility

SMEs might feel a lot of pres­sure to com­pete with larg­er organ­i­sa­tions, and as such they demand a lot from their employ­ees in terms of over­time. This is becom­ing increas­ing­ly com­mon, with over 6 mil­lion Britons work­ing over 45 hours per week. The desire to encour­age ded­i­ca­tion and long hours in your employ­ees is under­stand­able, espe­cial­ly dur­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly busy times of the year. How­ev­er, do longer hours real­ly result in height­ened productivity?

Accord­ing to research, the short answer is a resound­ing no’. Forc­ing employ­ees to remain at the office for extend­ed hours will lead to exhaust­ed and resent­ful employ­ees who are far more prone to under­per­for­mance and low­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. In fact, it has recent­ly been sug­gest­ed that if we had a short­er work­ing week, we would be hap­pi­er, health­i­er and more pro­duc­tive. This hypoth­e­sis is backed up by a recent Swedish study claim­ing that a six-hour work­ing day improves employ­ee sta­mi­na with­out cost­ing com­pa­nies any finan­cial loss. As a case study, we can look to the Toy­ota Ser­vice cen­tre in Gothen­burg. This com­pa­ny switched to a six-hour work day thir­teen years ago. Before the change, staff were stressed and prone to errors, but now employ­ees feel more con­tent, there is low­er turnover and recruit­ment is much easier.

Flex­i­bil­i­ty can come in oth­er forms, such as telecom­mut­ing or flexi-time. The most effec­tive HR exec­u­tives know the impor­tance of flex­i­bil­i­ty, how it impacts morale and demon­strates to employ­ees that trust in their abil­i­ties to perform.

SMART goals are not agreed and aligned

If employ­ees are uncer­tain as to their own goals, they will not be able to per­form at their best. Devel­op­ing SMART goals is some­thing that can seri­ous­ly ben­e­fit organ­i­sa­tion­al per­for­mance. So that employ­ees are aware of what is expect­ed of them, man­agers and employ­ees should col­lab­o­rate to form near-term goals that are Spe­cif­ic, Mea­sur­able, Achiev­able, Rel­e­vant and Time-Bound. These objec­tives should be aligned with your over­all busi­ness goals. The process of devel­op­ing and track­ing these goals is sim­pli­fied by use of mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy and per­for­mance man­age­ment software.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is infre­quent and ineffective

There is a very real rea­son why com­pa­nies the world over are turn­ing away from tra­di­tion­al annu­al per­for­mance reviews. Con­tin­u­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment is instead being acknowl­edged as the best way to improve and assess per­for­mance. If you rely on once or twice-a-year meet­ings between man­age­ment and employ­ees, com­mu­ni­ca­tion becomes stale. Crit­i­cal issues aren’t dealt with in a time­ly man­ner and wor­ry­ing behav­iour­al habits aren’t addressed prompt­ly, so they become ingrained.

Reg­u­lar check-ins help to keep employ­ees per­form­ing well. They give employ­ees the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get feed­back and dis­cuss obsta­cles to per­for­mance. They give man­age­ment a firmer idea as to the direc­tion of an employee’s per­for­mance, as well as how the organ­i­sa­tion is func­tion­ing as a whole.

Career devel­op­ment has not been considered

If your organ­i­sa­tion does not fos­ter an envi­ron­ment of learn­ing and devel­op­ment, even promis­ing employ­ees can become dis­in­clined to chal­lenge them­selves. They will either leave your com­pa­ny for one that allows for pro­gres­sion and advance­ment or they will remain with your com­pa­ny, with­out feel­ing inclined to work to their full potential.

When com­pa­nies encour­age learn­ing and the devel­op­ment of crit­i­cal skills, it is clear to the employ­ee that they are val­ued as time and mon­ey is being invest­ed in their future. In return, the organ­i­sa­tion ben­e­fits from a more knowl­edge­able, con­fi­dent employ­ee. Appre­ci­at­ing and invest­ing in your work­force is per­haps the best deci­sion any organ­i­sa­tion can make, and a more skilled employ­ee is far less like­ly to make errors that might cost your com­pa­ny dearly.

To find out how Clear Review can trans­form your per­for­mance man­age­ment, book a per­son­al demo right now via our online demo book­ing sys­tem.