HR Technologies: Boosting Employee Performance

Ashok Pandey
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A key challenge facing HR teams is to monitor and improve employee productivity effectively. Higher productivity among the workforce has been seen to positively correlate with a reduction in presenteeism, improvement in morale and overall engagement levels and also with overall profitability.


Boosting employee performance in the workplace is not about just putting in place metrics for the current role assigned to the person. Much like marketers track and optimise interactions across the entire customer lifecycle, HR now monitors and streamlines touchpoints and communications across the whole lifecycle of the employee both outside and within the organisation.

Over the past few years, technology has played an increasingly important role in enabling companies to monitor various aspects of employee performance closely. A significant reason for the increased penetration of technology is the dominance of Gen X and Millennials at the workplace. These generational cohorts are used to technology in their personal lives and expect similar solutions at the workplace as well.

With the rise of social and cloud technologies, people are used to the idea of communication and collaborating instantaneously from anywhere in the world. Geographical location is no longer the barrier that it used to be in the past. With mobile technologies becoming ubiquitous and internet speeds increasing exponentially, HR teams in companies now have access to a wide range of techniques they can deploy to help the workforce boost their performance.


Managing employee performance is now no longer about manual once-a-year-appraisal process resulting in the dreaded (and flawed) bell-curve distribution. Advanced technology is bringing about a revolution in the area. A combination of cloud computing, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies are now helping companies to ensure that they select the right people for the right job and that they receive the proper feedback, recognition at the right time. Career paths have come a long way from the one-size fits all approach. People can now take a more active role in managing their performance and career progression ably supported by new age tools that help them find learning material on demand, upskill just-in-time depending on the organisational requirement and also receive real-time feedback on areas of improvement and recognition for their achievements.

Finding the right people for the right job with AI

A critical and often underappreciated aspect of maximising productivity is to ensure that the right person is hired for the job in the first place. With a mismatched capability to job role match, even a genius would struggle to deliver the required outcomes.


Recruitment while seemingly straightforward at first glance is, in fact, a complex and high-touch activity involving coordinating with and meeting the requirements of multiple stakeholders across the organisation. With each recruitment a typical organisation sets in motion a vast data collection and processing activity – posting a job requirement, sourcing candidate resume's, filtering the resume's based on criteria, screening the candidates through multiple interview rounds, and finally selecting and onboarding a candidate. With each candidate, through each stage of the selection process, there are learnings. Over a period, these can be correlated with the success (or failure) of the candidate in working with the organisation. However, very little of these learnings are today put to use in the recruitment process leading to sub-optimal or sometimes outright incorrect hires – which in turn leads to low productivity, disengagement and attrition.

A.I. systems today are today already capable of not only automating many of the low level repetitive and voluminous tasks like collecting and screening resume's, but they can learn which traits work and don't work for the unique culture of each organisation and help screen candidates better. Paul Meehl, a leading light in the world of psychology makes a case for depending on algorithms for supporting complex decision making to overcome human bias in his book "Clinical versus statistical prediction: A theoretical analysis and a review of the evidence."

Supporting the right candidate with the right learning


In a world where technology is evolving at a break-neck pace, it is critical that employees keep abreast with the latest developments to stay relevant and improve their efficacy.

Traditionally learning has been seen as a group effort, with learning calendars planned and published in advance and employees adapting to the formats that might be available at a particular point in the time. This approach is primarily aligned with the concept of pedagogy – a method of teaching that is better suited to children.

The methods of andragogy or adult learning are aligned with the fact that most adults are autonomous and self-directed. They are aware of the need for learning to keep them up to date with new concepts and developments and are thus motivated to learn further, drawing in from their past learnings and experiences at the workplace.


Heutagogy, a recent extension to andragogy goes further and is centred on the concept of self-determined learning. This concept thus highlights not only the fact that employees are willing to take part in learning activities, but they develop the capability to learn itself. This approach suggests that the individual knows and selects what she needs to learn rather than determining what the instructor might choose.

Technology is now enabling learning material to be delivered to the individual away from the workplace and eliminating the need for classrooms. Mobile learning tools and apps can provide the required content to the employee on demand, when and where they have the time to participate in the learning. These tools help overcome one of the biggest challenges in active learning – finding time to learn new material. Another revolution in learning technologies has been the rise of social and collaborative learning platforms. Combined with concepts of gamification, these tools enable employees to interact and learn from peers and experts within the organisation without having to be physically present at particular locations. Access to and participation in internal and external social networks and knowledge communities now provide employees with access to a varied and vast amount of expertise and searchable knowledge-base no classroom-based instruction can ever hope to match up to.

Providing the right recognition at the right time:


In the social age where updates and subsequent reactions are near-instant, the employee-of-the-month schemes don't quite have the same impact. Also no longer are mass mailers on star-performers from HR (or from the CEO) quite seen with the same sense of awe that they would have been a decade ago.

Today, employees want to be recognised instantly for the excellent work done; they want to participate in recognition of others, be able to acknowledge the praise others have given them. Peer recognition is rated higher than praise from superiors.

All of these would have been impossible to implement just a few years back. However, now with the rise of Social, Mobile and Cloud technologies, social recognition platforms have become a must-have for companies. Recognition is instant, collaborative and quantifiable.


Studies have shown a substantial impact of recognition on the engagement levels of employees. With increased engagement, it follows that the individual is more motivated to improve their job performance.

Prashant John, ‎Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Kwench Global Technologies Prashant John, Co-Founder and CMO, Kwench Global Technologies

Using data to evaluate and optimise performance in real-time:

Performance evaluation traditionally has been a backwards-looking exercise subject to perceptions, bias and distortions introduced by the time lapsed between the accomplishments and their evaluations. Today with practically unlimited computing power, storage and analytics capabilities available to companies, contributions and achievements by teams can be tracked and reported in real time.

Tools now also give companies the capability to run interventions in real time, rather than waiting for a fixed period before evaluating the outcomes of the work done. Employee performance can now be assessed not just concerning the past but can be optimised to be mutually reinforcing and align with the present (and future) organisational goals.

Technology now lets supervisors and peers provide feedback in near real-time. When constructive and focused feedback can be made available immediately following the event, it helps employees to analyse better and manages their performance.

Wrapping this up:

Today HR and leadership of companies have technologies available to tie together and optimise the complete employee "life-cycle". Maximising productivity is a complex and challenging task where each step has to be monitored and fine-tuned continuously to achieve the best results. In this age of self-driving cars and chatbots replacing customer service agents, technology can deliver employee experiences that one could only dream of just a few years ago.

However, technology can only help optimise and fine-tune based on the strategy that the organisation itself adopts. The biggest secret to boosting employee productivity is not how advanced your tracking mechanisms are, but how much trust you place in your employees and how empowered they are to deliver the organisational goals. Moreover, all the AI systems in the world can't help there, not yet anyway!

By Prashant John, ‎Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Kwench Global Technologies

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