did you know?
When Gap Outlet gave high-commitment a try, turnover in the production and technical services teams dropped by 50 percent.
wise words we heard
Trust changes everything.
Ninety-five percent of all employees are responsible and ethical and want to do their jobs well.
High-commitment workplaces manage to them, not to the bad apples for whom so many restrictive work policies are created. In a high-commitment work environment, employees are treated as responsible adults trusted to manage their time and company resources well. Responsibilities at work and outside of work are respected and supported. Ownership of work falls squarely on the shoulders of those who need to get the job done, encouraging employees to buy-in to the organization wholeheartedly by giving them control over the decisions that affect their work.
High-commitment work practices come in a variety of forms. The results-only work environment (ROWE) was first implemented at Best Buy. ROWE evaluates and manages workers based only on their results. It narrows managerial focus to output (Was the product high-quality? Delivered on time? Did the worker hit his numbers?), not traditional productivity metrics (number of absences or hours worked) or face time. Workers are responsible for managing their own time.
A second form is the High Performance Workplace, spearheaded by HPWP Consulting. This organization has been working with manufacturers for 20 years to develop work environments where all workers are trusted and empowered to contribute to the company bottom line to the best of their abilities. The manufacturers benefit from team dynamics where workers understand that their success is dependent upon each other and that businesses success is dependent upon the teams. High performance workplaces eliminate signs of “second-class citizenship” among workers.
High-commitment work practices have been around for decades but have not yet become the norm, though most people who have worked in a high-commitment work environment never want to work any other way. Though it’s been a slow start, there is hope: In the spring of 2010, the federal government launched a pilot ROWE program that may well become a new best practice for managing government workers. Indeed, more and more employers are finding that when they treat employees with trust and respect, they get performance that validates that trust.
Advice for Employers
- Adopt a management vision to recognize people as people. In a high-performance work environment, employees are whole people with skills and lives; they are not just subordinates.
- Remember that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. Build your culture and organization around the 95 percent who can be trusted. Those who don’t wish to do their best will show themselves; management need not be tailored to “out” them.
- Identify and eliminate signs of “second-class citizenship.” Executive dining rooms, reserved parking, and resources distributed based on seniority instead of need all signal to employees they lack value and significance.
- Implement interdepartmental hiring teams. For high performance workplaces, distribute responsibility and tap into the experiential knowledge that workers already possess.
- Train, baby, train! Before implementing a pilot ROWE program, participants should learn the philosophy and became well-versed in its tenets.
- Manage the change. Make sure you don’t launch and leave. Communicate and check in often about how it’s going.
- Measure the results. One of the most persuasive tools in overhauling management structures is good data.
Research Roundup from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: Mother’s Day Edition
In time for Mother’s Day, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a leading think tank in the U.S. focusing primarily on domestic women’s issues, released a compilation of recent IWPR research findings that illustrate the current status of women, especially mothers, in the U.S. When IWPR posted a “Top 5” list of our most revealing research findings last December, we were so encouraged by the level of interest our readers showed in the post, that we decided to turn it into a regular roundup. Although intending to compile another “Top 5” list, the first four months of 2011 were so action-packed that we couldn’t limit ourselves to just five. From Social Security to employment discrimination, here are the top IWPR findings from 2011 (so far):
1. Without access to Social Security, 58 percent of women and 48 percent of men above the age of 75 would be living below the poverty line. If you watch cable news, read reputable newspapers, or even tune in to late night television, you would get the impression that the Social Security system, which helped keep 14 million Americans over the age of 65 out of poverty in 2009, is broken. Social Security does not contribute to the deficit and is forbidden by law to borrow money to pay for benefits. In fact, Social Security is actually running a surplus—a big one—at $2.6 trillion, an amount that is projected to increase to $4.2 trillion by 2025.
2. Although many groups advocate for immigrant rights at the local, state, or national levels, very few advocate specifically for the rights of immigrant women. A new IWPR report, Organizations Working with Latina Immigrants: Resources and Strategies for Change, on the challenges facing Latina immigrants in the United States, explores the specific challenges faced by immigrant women—higher poverty rates than their male counterparts and greater risk of sexual, domestic, and workplace violence—and spotlights the organizations that are trying to help.
3. The gender wag gap has narrowed only 13 percentage points in the last 55 years. With the ratio of women’s to men’s earnings stagnating at 77 percent in recent years, IWPR projected that, if current trends continue, the gender wage gap will finally close in 2056—45 years from now. In terms of how the gender wage gap breaks down by occupation, IWPR also found that women earn less than men in 107 out of 111 occupational categories, including female-dominated professions like teaching and nursing.
4. Women’s career and life choices do not completely explain the gender wage gap. IWPR’s new report, Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope—a review of over 500 sex and race discrimination settlements –offers distressing evidence of the factors that keep women’s median earnings lower than men and keep women out of better paid jobs. These include discrimination in hiring, sexual harassment of women trying to work in male-dominated jobs, preventing women from getting the training that is required for promotion (or only requiring that training of women), and paying women less for the same work than men. The report finds that ensuring transparency in hiring, compensation, and promotion decisions is the most effective means for addressing discrimination.
5. On-campus child care centers meet only five percent of the child care needs of student parents. IWPR’s report, Improving Child Care Access to Promote Postsecondary Success Among Low-Income Parents, explores thechallenges facing 3.9 million student-parents, 57 percent of whom are also low-income adults, enrolled in colleges across the U.S. Costly off-campus care centers—in many states the cost exceeds median income—are unrealistic for many, leaving some student parents devoting up to ing 70 hours per week to jobs and caregiving, leaving little time for classes or studying. Postsecondary education provides a path to firmer economic stability for low-income families, but without child care on campus, the path often seems more like an uphill climb.
6. Both businesses and employees in San Francisco are generally in support of paid sick days, as the nation’s first paid sick days legislation sees benefits four years after passage. San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (PSLO) went into effect in 2007. Four years later, IWPR analyzed the effects of the ordinance in the new report, San Francisco’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance: Outcomes for Employers and Employees, which surveyed over 700 employers and nearly 1,200 employees. Despite claims from opposing groups that this kind of legislation is bad for small businesses, IWPR’s survey found that two-thirds of employers in San Francisco support the law, including over 60 percent of employers in the hotel and food service industry.
Cross posted with author permission from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research blog.