Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Meshing Human Resources processes with business complexity 3: due diligence and risk management evaluations 1

Posted in HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on December 28, 2013

This is my third installment to a series on the new and emerging workplace, and developing personnel policy and practices to better meet the needs of a 21st century business (see Part 1 and Part 2.)

I began this discussion in Parts 1 and 2 by briefly and selectively outlining how:

• Both employee and employer needs, and options for meeting them have changed,
• Going from a traditional pattern of employees working fixed standard hours at their place of employment as a basic rule,
• That was in place when most of today’s senior managers and executives were beginning their careers,
• To what is both a more skills-demanding and employment terms-rich present-situation for today’s workforce.

I stated and began to argue the case for a need to update how basic personnel policy is formulated and enacted in a business, if it is to limit the risk of having policy in place that does not support that business in its current marketplaces and competitive contexts. And I ended Part 2 by stating that I would continue its discussion here, focusing on cost/benefits and risk management approaches for formulating the best personnel policies for a specific business as it navigates its way through an increased range of possible terms of employment. That is my goal for this series installment. And I begin with the fundamentals.

It can sound very positive from a marketing perspective for a business to be able to say that it offers its employees a generously flexible workplace with allowance for and support of telecommuting, flex time and job sharing, and other “special” terms and conditions of employment. And that type of marketing can help drive sales and increase incoming revenue streams from customers who appreciate that the business is socially responsible in supporting its employees in this way. And this type of marketing message can also facilitate more product and service-specific marketing too, further enhancing revenue development. Businesses that present themselves as being good corporate citizens to their own employees find it easier to convincingly present themselves as being good corporate citizens to their customers and their marketplaces too.

But ultimately, personnel policies in place have to be cost-effective and they should promote employee behavior that is fiscally sound for their employer. And that personnel policy should also discourage or even actively disallow employee practices that would be detrimental to the buisness, either through the direct cost impact of reduced job performance or from increased risk to the business from how that work is being done.

• Work performance for employees who are offered the option of working under non-traditional terms of employment and workplace engagement can be benchmarked and tracked for efficiency against the workplace efficiency and performance of comparable employees as they work in-house and according to more traditional on-site terms of engagement.
• And for employees who switch, for example, from working at the business and in its physical office space to telecommuting, it can often also be possible to measure their current workplace performance against their previous work performance.
• But both of those bullet points carry potentially confounding assumptions in them. For the first of those points, it might not be readily and unequivocally possible to identify specific meaningfully comparable employees who work on-site in the business’ work areas who are in fact similar enough for work performed for this purpose. And for the second, that assumes that employees working physically at the business are in fact performing essentially the same tasks and for similar proportions of their time at work when shifted to a different work engagement model.

Following up for clarification on that second point, consider an employee who is switched to flex-time scheduling and who suddenly has to teleconference with and work real-time with fellow employees, customers or other stakeholders in distant time zones and outside of their employer’s usual work hours. And now this is an important part of what they do and a high priority item in their job description that they would be performance reviewed on. It might be difficult at best to directly compare their performance for what they are now doing with their own prior work history as a basis for comparison if they now face very different issues in scheduling and timing for work they have to do with those differences arising on the other end of these now long distance business transactions.

• But even if you have a basis in place that you can rely upon for developing valid points of comparison for workplace performance for tracking both individual employees who work in a non-standard way with the business, and for evaluating those terms of workplace engagement themselves from overall employee work experience with them,
• This only represents one aspect of what needs to be performance reviewed here from a business due diligence and risk management perspective.
• You also have to consider risk and benefits resulting from how employees who work according to different types of workplace engagement, access and use business-held information, and how they download what they are working on back into their workplace’s networked computer systems.

This becomes important when any employee spends any of their time actively at work, doing so off-site and away from the business, or connecting into its information technology systems through non-business channels.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will explicitly delve into those issues and into the issues of developing personnel policy so as to align with and support information technology due diligence systems. And I will discuss those information technology systems insofar as they can be developed to assist Human Resources as it tracks and evaluates employee practices and performance. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel.

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