‘We want to create an environment where every employee can bring their whole self to work and not just make a living but have a life.’ — Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo
How many times have we heard that we want employees to bring their whole self to work? What does that really mean?
How could an organisation create the space for this to occur?
What if we incentivised them to do this?
If we really believe in this idea of ‘whole self’, then why do we only incentivise employees to focus on the work component when setting performance goals? It’s well-known that humans by their very hardwiring will gravitate to what rewards them.
I’m talking about creating KPIs that aren’t just about cost-reduction, revenue-generation, efficiency, productivity, innovation, process improvement and customer satisfaction. All the ‘work stuff’, if you like.
I can almost see the HR managers eye-roll happening if they’ve not already tuned out on this absurdity of an idea.
‘That’s not what we do around here’, followed by ‘it’s not in the policy’ would be the likely response.
How do I know this?
I’ve had a lived experience with it.
Yes, that’s correct.
It all started from a question I asked myself — that being, ‘what would happen if I treated my team members like human beings?’ — that became what I now call ‘the human manager experience’.
It involved giving my team members permission to truly bring their whole self to work and live a life that was fulfilling for them. One that allowed them to explore what could be if they designed a life taking into account work, self, family and friends and community time.
Each team member had incentivised KPIs incorporating work, self, family and friends and community goals, and here’s the kicker. They had a percentage of their bonus weighted against the non-work-related goals.
Had I gone crazy?
HR thought so, and when I politely informed them of my approach the words ‘precedent’, ‘process’ and ‘policy’ were rolled out like a scripted ‘thanks but no thanks’ reply I was so used to hearing from those who espouse ‘our people are our most important asset’.
That didn’t deter me though. I proceeded to give my team members permission to set these goals as I truly believed this was the best way for them to bring their whole self to work.
The goals were tracked just like the traditional work-related ones.
I set up a ‘balance buddy’ system where team members kept each other accountable to their non-work-related goals, and we checked-in monthly of their progress.
Each team member had to provide evidence to support the achievement of their goals, and there were no exceptions to this.
- Had John completed the online landscape gardening course he had signed up for?
- Was Greg speaking at the local high school about leadership and career advice each month?
- Had Jaymie been spending time each month at his riverfront holiday shack with his family?
- Did Trevor achieve those challenging wellness goals he had set with his PT?
For those who are still a little dubious about this, and want to understand the end result here, I must say I’m proud to share it with you.
Over two years of incorporating work and non-work related goals, the team over-achieved sales targets by 238% and 198% (year two on a tripled target), and overall we saw a reduction in face-to-face work hours of up to 30%.
The human beings turned up happier knowing they could be themselves and the employee engagement scores exceeded 90% for two years running.
Not a bad return on investment for shaking up the compliance based archaic HR policy and process.
This is the time like no other in the history of work to redefine how we view success.
Managers like you can be the ones who are bold and change the game here.
How will you approach this at your next goal-setting conversation?
Will it be compliance or care based? Human or HR policy?
Do you really want the whole humans to turn up or just the work version?
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