High-Performance Working (HPW)
Strategic human resource (HR) management has gained significant importance in rapidly changing workplaces and knowledge-based economies over the years. Currently, organizations perceive employees as a crucial competitive advantage source. According to Ashkanasy et al. (2017), HR practices are inimitable, rare, and valuable organizational assets associated with path-dependent, socially complex, and firm-specific attributes of companies. Their primary goal is to acquire and increase a sustained competitive advantage and productivity without detrimental effects on team members. High-performance working (HPW) is one of the methods to achieve success and build a culture of trust and transparency, and it has its pros and cons, influencing employee well-being, competitive advantage, and sustainable performance.
Definitions and Theories
HPW is an HR conceptualization that reflects strategic HR fundamental practices and ascertains employee behaviors, skills, and attitudes by developing and using knowledge to attain organizational objectives (Ashkanasy et al., 2017). It is a series of processes, policies, and practices to generate improved employee performance, mainly when these elements work harmoniously. This method is a general approach for managing companies to prompt more effective employee commitment and engagement and attain high-performance levels. It involves customer satisfaction, profitability, and action by developing worker adroitness and enthusiastic involvement in their duties (Bingham & McCalman, 2018). HPW is designed to foster the discretionary endeavor employees incorporate into their tasks and the full utilization of workers’ proficiencies.
High-performance work practices (HPWPs) or high-performance work systems (HPWS) are activities adopted by HR managers to enhance improved working activities. These formalized processes aim at assessing human resources and their efficacy (Li et al., 2019). HPWPs consist of three broad categories: commitment and reward, HR, and high workers’ engagement practices that positively impact a workforce’s performance, motivation, and attitude. HPWS is an HRM practice bundle designed to improve workers’ involvement, inspiration, and proficiency to enable a company to attain a sustainable competitive advantage.
An understanding of HPW levels is crucial for a company’s viability within the marketplace. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) supports this view by identifying high-performance working organizations (HPWO) as the framework or model for reinforcing a firm’s organizational culture (Bingham & Dusin, 2018). It underscores less conventional competitive advantage sources, including an empowered, skilled, motivated, and loyal workforce.
The HPWS-related scholarly debate is developed around a theoretical model counterpoising two comprehensive accounts. The initial argument relates to the mainstream approach and several performance management theories, including the control and goal-setting theory, to prove the relationship between HPWS practices and positive employee outcomes (Ashkanasy et al., 2017). Specifically, this HRM theory is instrumental in enhancing employee satisfaction, commitment, and autonomy, which consequently contributes to high organizational performance. The second account, conceptualized as the “labor process theory” perspective, propounds that any performance gains linked to HPWS activities occur through shifting duties and accountability to the workforce and work intensification (Ashkanasy et al., 2017). This phenomenon can result in increased distress and workload and promote de-motivation and poor organizational performance.
Definitions of HPW Key Concepts
HPWS practices emphasize workers’ engagement and demonstrate a commitment to developing an organizational culture ground on dedication instead of control. HPWO culture highlights the pursuit of excellence and demands that all employees be highly competent, well-qualified, and continually involved in improving the company’s performance. There are specific management practices related to HPWS that help enterprises create competitive advantage and promote organizational performance.
Many companies that choose downsizing and hiring contract and part-time employees to avert additional costs and employee-related obligations report poor performance. Organizations rarely create new wealth and demonstrate low bottom-line productivity levels (De Waal, 2019). HPWS approaches advocate developing employee security in the workforce to build commitment and enhance positive behaviors.
The careful evaluation of new hires demands that companies adopt recruitment and selection strategies to ensure accuracy and preciseness. To promote HPW, organizations should recruit employees who suit specific requirements rather than simply hire applicants with excellent academic degrees or those who look good on paper (Bingham & Dusin, 2018). Distinguishing qualities, including service orientation, respect for others, and characters that do not change through coaching and training, play a vital role in ensuring a worker’s long-term fit and retention.
Companies that develop HPWS culture acknowledge the significance of distinguishing and establishing clear goals. Promoting supported self-managed and well-trained teams that enjoy broad discretion and autonomy in making decisions exhibits high trust in their workforce is an HPWS characteristic (Buchanan & McCalman, 2018).
These organizations delegate decision-making roles throughout the workplace and empower workers to deliver outstanding or excellent service to consumers and attain optimal corporate outcomes. Self-managed teams demand extensive training, continuous support to optimize their efficacy, and accountability in reporting assignments’ progress. Using an organization’s work teams supported by a firm’s top management team and are well-trained helps create accountability at the corporate level. Developing a culture that fosters collaborative accountability reinforces corporate values and enhances personal ownership at different levels.
High Results-Based Compensation
Creating a compensation system that rewards workers at all levels fosters their commitment to shared objectives and increases knowledge about responsibilities. Remunerating employees per the firm’s performance is typical of a high-performance culture; it emphasizes the sharing of profits throughout the enterprise (Ashkanasy et al., 2017). It enhances fairness and equity and assures the workforce of their involvement in sharing the benefits of their efforts.
Training by Commitment
Every HPW company emphasizes coaching by commitment instead of training centered on control-oriented systems of management. Employee education enhances trust in the caliber of hired employees (De Waal, 2019). This practice usually highlights the significance of workforce buy-in to an outcome-based remuneration program. HPW businesses often ascertain the essential training type for attaining organizational goals and invest heavily in assisting team members optimize their capacity to succeed. Involving the workforce in work-related team coaching promotes their commitment, ownership, and capability to contribute to the attainment of crucial corporate goals.
Decreased Status Barriers
A typical HPWS assumption is that excellent ideas and corporate-related improvements can be derived from workers at all organizational levels. Wage inequality and the utilization of symbols, including benefits, physical space, dress, and language, can make employees feel unappreciated or discriminated. These workers may perceive that the company considers status hierarchically instead of treating every team member as a valuable corporate asset. HPWOs often seek to establish cultures typified by high trust levels by developing workers as opposed to controlling them to implement their roles effectively and minimize status barriers.
Sharing Important Information
Data exchange helps organizations convey employees and establish trusted partnerships. Well-trained and highly motivated workers need information to ensure essential strategies and enterprise success. HPWOs often disseminate crucial data and provide training to utilize the acquired skills and achieve corporate objectives. Additional HPW components include customer focus, inclusion and diversity, and innovation. Other elements of HPW as delineated by the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) include:
- A vision focused on increasing consumer value by differentiating a company’s services or products and advancing towards the customization of its benefits to specific clients’ needs;
- Leadership or management from the top tier and throughout the enterprise to create momentum;
- An organizational culture and support systems which underscore people management procedures and performance operations aligned to a company’s goals to develop commitment, enthusiasm, and trust towards the direction adopted by the firm.
Barriers to HPW in Organizations
HPW teams play a crucial role in enhancing a company’s growth and productivity by meeting specific goals and recognizing barriers. These hindrances are usually triggered due to variations in attitude, professional aspirations, strategies, experience and qualification, and workers’ experience backgrounds. HPWO employees enjoy great teamwork and demonstrate professional relationships and positive work outcomes. However, several barriers, including inappropriate leadership, may impact the proper adoption and functioning of HPW strategies.
The first challenge is the lack of trust within an organization. HPW efficacy greatly depends on the level of confidence and trust that workers have for each other and the management and their collaborative functioning (Bingham & Dusin, 2018). Mistrust can be a significant hindrance in HPW efficacy since members may fail to work towards a common purpose and are likely to focus more on individual concerns rather than collective goals.
Secondly, poor interpersonal relationships among employees create a substantial threat or obstacle to adequate performance. According to Bingham and Dusin (2018), the aforementioned barrier makes workers prioritize individual success and well-being over the company’s overall productivity. Thirdly, in the absence of effective leadership, team performance is likely to suffer. Managers become trendsetters who set good examples for their subordinates. They offer strategic direction and develop a vision for workers, whereby team members control collaborative efforts. Company heads often enforce a compliance model and create a high-performance culture for workers.
Fourthly, poorly defined core values serve as a crucial hindrance to HPW implementation in the organization. These values are related to the pre-defined conduct standards for workers within the organization (Armstrong, 2018). They are salient precepts or guiding models that impact team members’ behaviors and their daily actions. Leadership teams enforce or effectuate core values by aligning them with organizational policies, performance review procedures, and performance management systems. Poorly delineated core principles negatively affect productivity and performance.
Finally, inefficiently developed incentive structures and performance management frameworks also hinder the appropriate HPW implementation. According to Dickmann et al. (2016), poorly managed metrics and improper compensation structures negatively impact employee motivation and increase their likelihood of engaging in unhealthy competition with other colleagues. Inappropriate dialogue exchange or poor communication serves as a significant barrier during the HPW’s adoption.
According to Buchanan and McCalman (2018), employees within high-performance workplaces need to work collaboratively and focus on attaining common objectives. Their tasks are usually so interdependent that without effective coordination or frequent interaction between teams, workers may fail to achieve the established business goals. Other barriers include the lack of an appropriate feedback mechanism, unfair decision-making procedures, and internal politics.
Evaluation of Evidence
HPW and Employee Wellbeing
HPW practices enhance employee well-being in various cultural and organizational settings. Huang et al. (2016) proved a positive correlation between HPWS, employee well-being, and job involvement. The implementation of HPWS concepts helps organizations develop improved work surroundings and enhance job involvement and employee well-being. Miao and Cao (2019) explained that HPW improves a workforce’s well-being due to its connection to employee creativity. Babic et al. (2019) showed the underlying connection between HPW and employee well-being, underlying the role of HPWS in developing employee satisfaction with the workplace. Working in a company where HPWS conceptualizations are applied is necessary to promote job satisfaction and better work-life balance, increase their engagement, and decrease work-related distress.
HPW and Competitive Advantage
Several researchers argue about a positive correlation between HPW and competitive advantage. Nadeem et al. (2019) demonstrated that HPWS is the primary source of a company’s competitive advantage and the reason to improve performance at the organizational and individual levels. Zhu et al. (2018) revealed that HPW could be identified as entrepreneurial orientation’s antecedent variable. Companies can improve their levels of proactiveness, risk-taking propensity, and innovativeness. Enterprises continually improve manufacturing proficiencies, grasp marketplace opportunities, develop new products and ideas, and outperform their rivals.
HPW and Sustainable Organizational Performance
The connection between HPW and sustainable organizational performance cannot be ignored. Nadeem et al. (2019) examined the ties between HPW, service performance, and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). HPWA becomes a fundamental contributor to service performance, OCB, and stability. Zhu et al. (2018) also supported HPW as the entrepreneurial orientation’s antecedent variable that affects an organization’s performance.
Enterprises with high EO typically attempt to improve their leadership patterns, modify strategic decisions promptly (ahead of their rivals), respond to marketplace adjustments quickly, introduce new commodities, and acquire competitive advantages. HPWS is instrumental in promoting organizational productivity by increasing a firm’s EO level, which can improve its performance further. HPWS can be implemented more effectively when a company has high learning capability levels, which allow workers to obtain, use, and share knowledge proactively.
Principles of Performance Management Implementation in Organizations
Performance management is an instrumental concept in organizational management involving evaluating and monitoring employees’ productivity. Its primary objective within an organization is to create a favorable environment that allows the workforce to execute their work optimally while delivering high-level productivity in an efficient and effective approach (Fletcher & Williams, 2016).
The process (cycle) of performance management demands that leaders work collaboratively with the workforce and discuss goals, targets, career development, and expectations in line with the corporate vision (Sharma & Sharma, 2017). This particular section highlights the performance management cycle’s primary phases, the significance of development and performance reviews, and the strategies for involving line managers in the performance review procedure.
Stages of the Performance Management Cycle
Managers and employees typically work together to design work plans and job descriptions for the employees during the planning phase. Company leaders often ensure that work plans align with the organization’s mission and goals and the comprehensive strategic plan (Dickmann et al., 2016). The management team and workers settle on the specific tasks to be completed, the agreed completion standards, and the appropriate measurement approaches for evaluating the desired results’ attainment (Franco-Santos & Otley, 2018). Employees’ competencies regarding customer interests and product knowledge are discussed to ensure the smooth delivery of the corporate goals and objectives.
The monitoring phase plays a crucial role in ensuring that the planning phase’s goals are attained. This stage is usually progressive and continuous to allow for regular interaction between the employees and the management team (Bheemanathini et al., 2019). During this step, managers often assess employees’ demands or challenges, which may potentially hinder their capacity to execute their assigned tasks appropriately. The management team offers workable solutions while undertaking any adjustments necessary for effective and efficient performance delivery (Armstrong, 2018). For instance, a readjustment may necessitate breaking down yearly targets to easily achievable monthly or quarterly goals.
Once the end of the year reaches, the management team and the employees hold discussions and undertake a comprehensive review of the past year to ascertain whether the set goals were attained. The review process is beneficial since it offers an excellent opportunity for leaders and team members to build an effective collaborative relationship (Bartz et al., 2017). The increased collaborative interaction between workers and the management acts as a motivation tool since it enhances employee recognition (Bartz et al., 2017). This, in turn, triggers employees’ high commitment to achieving the set goals in line with the organization’s strategic plan and vision.
The last stage (phase) of the performance management cycle involves rewarding employees who have recorded outstanding performances. The process acts as a motivational tool since it facilitates the appreciation of workers’ impressive results derived from optimal performance (Smith & Bititci, 2017). Furthermore, workers who fail to reach the set targets are typically challenged by their colleagues’ rewards; this, in turn, encourages them to focus on high-level results in future tasks. The rewarding phase is dependent on the measured performance over a given period, whereby top-performers are ranked against the low-performers (Smith & Bititci, 2017). The rewards given to the employees could assume different forms, including a raise in compensation level, job promotion, paid vacations, bonuses, and positive reviews.
The Role of Development and Performance Reviews
The performance and development reviews are instrumental in ensuring that an entity operates efficiently and effectively, in line with the strategic goals outlined in its vision statement. These procedures allow organizations to ascertain the workforce’s weaknesses and strengths (employees); they provide the management team with a metric for determining top- and low-performers (Sharma & Sharma, 2017).
Furthermore, the performance appraisal process helps an organization’s management team identify the areas that require improvement. Reports derived from the performance and development reviews are used to design reward schemes and motivational strategies. The organization’s strategic plan’s readjustments are also enhanced by the feedback collected from the performance and development reviews (Bheemanathini et al., 2019). The collaborative cooperation between the management and workers during the performance appraisals also promotes employees’ commitment towards their development targets (Bartz et al., 2017). Thus, they establish a sense of ownership during the given process.
Line Managers in the Performance-Review Process
Line managers contribute immensely to the performance-review process’s success; thus, it is paramount to devise ways to engage them effectively during the exercise. One of the most suitable approaches for involving the personnel would be allowing them to interact fully with the employees during the review program. Franco-Santos and Otley (2018) support this view by arguing that this approach is effective in creating a favorable rapport with the employees. This collaborative strategy’s benefit is that it allows line managers to effectively assess workers’ progress while understanding and analyzing their needs regarding performance-related challenges.
Line managers will be able to offer appropriate solutions to any concerns related to performance as presented by the employees during the interaction process (Smith & Bititci, 2017). Allowing the line managers to share details about the organization’s mission, goals, and vision to the workforce while comparing the performance recorded to the set targets is another practical approach for ensuring these leaders’ involvement in performance review procedures.
Performance Management Processes, Talent Recognition, and Reward
From a management perspective, phases included in the performance evaluation processes such as planning and reviewing help track employees’ performance. The procedures also play a fundamental role in establishing relevant benchmarks for analysis (Kourti, 2017). Workers’ productivity typically increases when they have a clear picture of the targets, they must achieve within a given period: monthly, yearly, and quarterly. As indicated earlier, the planning stage allows the workforce and management team to develop a work plan and establish specific targets and metrics for ascertaining the set goals’ achievement. During the reviewing phase, team members’ performance is typically evaluated against the set objectives and indicators. Workers with outstanding performance are then identified and rewarded or given the proper recognition accordingly.
Performance-management processes facilitate the feedback provision procedure, which is instrumental to talent development. The management team typically conveys critical information to employees during the execution of the performance management processes; this includes giving relevant feedbacks regarding their productivity (Walk & Kennedy, 2017). The feedback strategy enables workers to note the weak areas that require improvement and identify their strengths and capitalize on them. The management’s continuous reviews help identify the high-performance employees who are then considered for recognition and rewards (Moullin, 2017). Furthermore, the smooth interaction between the management teams and the workforce enables the cultivation of favorable working relations that boosts performance, thus attaining the set targets and contributing to rewards.
Strategic Goal Setting and Talent Development Frameworks
Talent development and purposeful goal-setting are strategic contributions of performance management processes, which also enhance talent recognition. The planning phase requires that the managerial team collaborate with the employees to develop relevant goals and determine strategies crucial to attaining the set objective (Almohtaseb et al., 2020). The rewarding of talents occurs at the measurements and rewards stage when all the employees’ performance is compared with the established benchmarks (Walk & Kennedy, 2017). This, in turn, allows for the recognition of workers with outstanding performances and the implementation of strategies, including training programs to help poor-performing workers improve their skills.
Strategies to Promote HPW Culture
Training and Employee Commitment
Effective talent development and training procedures are crucial tools for enhancing the employees’ commitment levels to set objectives of the organization; thus, leading to high performance among the employees. When the workers are trained on the proper values, they develop clarity of the expected performance levels, which, in turn, increases their productivity levels to match the established benchmarks of high performance (Almohtaseb et al., 2020). Moreover, coaching equips the workforce with appropriate customer-centric service proficiencies that contribute to their overall productivity and commitment to its vision.
Communication and Collaboration
Performance management procedures emphasize the need for a feedback mechanism between the workforce and the management team. Managers’ regular and continuous performance monitoring and review help increase participation and collaboration, generating trust and confidence in the organization (Moullin, 2017). When employees develop trust, their motivation levels grow tremendously, thus boosting their workplace performance. As a result of the enhanced cooperation, communication, and collaboration, the employees work towards achieving the outlined targets, thereby promoting a high-performance culture within the organization.
Leadership Capabilities and Reward Systems
Building enthusiasm among the employees demands that employees’ attitude and general happiness or satisfaction prevail in the organization. The development of a workplace culture that emphasizes employee involvement in decision-making is fundamental in boosting productivity levels since it fosters active participation in the design and planning of targets (Kourti, 2017). Entrusting the workforce with vast leadership opportunities grows their sense of self-esteem and job satisfaction, thereby increasing their productivity. Furthermore, a comprehensive and reliable reward scheme encourages the workers to stick to their targets, thus promoting a high-performance culture.
Methods of Building Trust, Enthusiasm, and Commitment in Performance Culture
Community practice and HPW approaches determine and impact the performance culture in modern organizations. There are many ways to apply new techniques or follow the already offered standards, and people must learn how to share common problems, make decisions, and fulfill individual and organizational goals. Many companies pay attention to assessing a community of practice, a group of professionals united under specific technical, organizational, and business domains. The impact of this work is great for understanding and promoting HPW culture. The most evident ways include collaboration to examine available information and resources and improve employees’ skills and active learning through inquiry (Ashkanasy et al., 2017).
It is not enough for a company to reveal current goals but to set the milestones and plan new actions carefully. According to Armstrong (2018), organizational culture contains shared beliefs, values, and norms to shape the way people behave and interact. The connection between a community of practice and HPW culture is evident because people become interested in building trust, enthusiasm, and commitment.
Building trust is a critical factor in and workplace, and its main feature is the necessity to promote from the top down. As soon as a leader is ready to trust his or her employees, improved performance may be observed. Communication and mutual involvement are the common methods to build trust by widening dialogues and sharing concerns and ideas under the same conditions (Armstrong, 2018).
It is not enough for employees to stay honest or demonstrate support. Trust is an element of a high-performance culture that needs more steps to be taken simultaneously. Thus, constructive responses, model behaviors, protection, security, and access to resources and information help build trust and motivate employees to believe in the offered culture.
The promotion of enthusiasm and commitment is also crucial for supporting a high-performance culture in the workplace. Fletcher and Williams (2016) connect these two tasks with understanding organizational missions and purposeful cooperation. The methods to improve enthusiasm and commitment depend on leaders who should assess employees and their work quality.
The best examples are regular meetings with eye contact and free discussions, personal interviews with attention to personal traits, and even brief questionnaires organized quarterly. Employees should have a chance to talk about their concerns, share their ideas, and never be afraid of asking questions or reporting. As soon as they avoid or do not pay much attention to authority-related threats, they can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment freely. As a result, enthusiasm, commitment, and trust are easy-to-apply, cost-effective components of high-performance culture for any organization.
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