Post-productivity employee value assessment and the KPI factor

Who values the team-builders, the office comics, the pickers-up of morale...? And how do they compare to the deal-closers?
3 May 2023

They also serve who boost morale – how do you effectively judge staff value.

In Part 1 of this article, Chelsea Pyrzenski, Global Chief People Officer at the WalkMe digital adoption platform, explained why the traditional metric of productivity was no longer sufficient – at least on its own – to measure employee engagement and employee value, particularly in the more diverse, hybrid workforce of the post-pandemic era.

She outlined the idea of a more holistic approach to staff evaluation, that avoided the ultimate target of simply working more, more, more until staff burned out or completely destroyed any sense of the work-life balance that has become a cherished side effect of the hybrid working model.

She explained that the holistic model could foster longer-term benefits, stronger lifetime customer cycles, and essential creativity far more effectively than a straightforward check-box approach to output – the traditional measurement of productivity which has seen enterprises do the same things over decades.

The how and the why.

While we had her in the chair, we took the opportunity to ask Chelsea if there were any other notable benefits of shifting to a holistic, whole-person, whole-company approach to employee value.


I believe there are. It’s all rooted in that idea we talked about in Part 1, of shifting the corporate mindset from the “what” – the easily measurable output model of productivity – to the “how” and the “why” of the equation.


So in a sense, it offers a way to fight back against the commodification of clients?


Yes. Which would you prefer – a relationship manager who thinks of you as just another on their list of people to call on a schedule, or one who really understands where you’re going, what you’re doing, and why, what your business proposition is and how they and their company can support you as a business?

The second type will take longer to achieve “output” by any traditional productivity metric, but what they achieve will be far richer in terms of the client relationship. That’s better for business in the long run, and it’s also better for your brand reputation and customer satisfaction. If a client knows your staff understand the way they operate, the way they think and the things they need, they have a much better experience as your customers – and they’re much more likely to review you well, to recommend you.


Old-fashioned word of mouth in a cut-throat digital world?


Exactly. By giving your staff the time to really get to know their customers, rather than demanding strict output and productivity targets, you free them to act as brand ambassadors, and that becomes contagious – your customers will become your ambassadors too.

Again, productivity can certainly play a role in the company’s view of overall employee value, as a metric for measuring performance. But it’s important to remember that productivity is not the only measure of an employee’s worth.

Companies need to consider all the other factors that I’ve already mentioned when they’re looking at the value that the employee brings to the table. The more holistic you can be about these things, the more granular, and I would argue, the more accurate you can be when measuring employee value.

That helps to make better informed decisions around promotions, compensation, and other employee-related matters. These things fall into place as a competency model for roles and responsibilities. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, though, especially when you’re looking across departments. Every single individual has particular KPIs that they bring into team outcomes as well, and that drives the organization’s business priorities, and its success.

Measuring holistic achievements.


The KPI model is an entirely different way of measuring employee value, isn’t it? Given that it’s far less straightforward as a metric than simple productivity, how simple is it to just adopt? Isn’t there a huge amount of change that needs to be undergone before businesses can shift from a productivity model to a holistic model?


It helps if you think about how every individual has a key role in their team, which comes with very specific responsibilities to drive business outcomes. That needs to be tracked individually to understand the team’s progress as a whole. But it’s important that to ensure that individual feels part of their team, they collaborate together, they have shared goals that they need to work on. They need to have this personal sense of responsibility and accomplishment that reflects the impact in their output.

But this allows for more of a personalized and targeted approach to evaluating employee performance that helps measure real employee value. And so you start to set these specific KPIs for each individual, thinking about their strengths, thinking about their weaknesses, how you identify those and how they can be held accountable based on their contributions through performance management.

And I know performance management might seem like this very soft and fluffy HR thing, but it’s not. It’s an approach that really enables managers to provide targeted feedback and support for the employee, looking at them as a whole person and helping them develop the skills to reach their full potential.

The point being that that doesn’t always correlate to output. It doesn’t always correlate to how many boxes you check and how quickly you check them, because that doesn’t always win deals, that doesn’t always win customers for life. And some of the best results aren’t built fast, right? So focusing on the individual’s KPIs can mean including things like increasing engagement and motivation. But importantly, the KPIs have to be clear, they have to be specific targets. And they have to have the sense of ownership and pride in the work about them, so that people actually produce higher quality and better results overall.

An individual focus.

That’s why focusing on individuals can help identify your high performers, and can reward them more accurately and accordingly than a traditional productivity model can. Teams are certainly important, but focusing on individual KPIs and performance can provide this more accurate measurement of employee value, tracking accountability based on that individual’s performance, rather than the performance of the team.

All that comes back to performance management. What are you working on? Are you a leader that is driving or influencing change? Are you helping us get towards our value proposition? Are you attracting the right talent to execute the results that we need? It goes into so many different things – are you innovating the next great idea?

Some of those things are soft and difficult to measure, but they deliver better outcomes than simple productivity can.


And that model allows for different personalities to shine as well? As in, some people are great at welding teams together or serving teams, or boosting the morale of teams, rather than being focused on hitting sales goals, for instance?


Exactly. It allows for diversity of thought and skillset to still be accurately measured, rather than funneling everything and everyone towards the same sets of goals. It’s important when you’re building a team that you build it with different skills and different strengths and different opinions, because you can go so much further if you do. The holistic method allows every member of the team to be evaluated on their individual KPIs, rather than on the single team goal, whatever it might be.