employee development

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Management

Looking to improve employee management practices in your organization? We put together best practices and real-life examples in this ultimate guide.

Matthew Reeves

CEO of Together

Published on 

October 9, 2023

Updated on 

Time to Read

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47% of people feel overwhelmed at work.

The skill sets required for most jobs are changing rapidly, employees want to work from home, and employers want everyone to come back to the office.

HR and L&D leaders have to navigate these turbulent waters by improving employee experience and making sure teams have the support they need to help themselves and their organizations grow. This can be done through effective employee management.

What is employee management?

Employee management is the comprehensive process of overseeing, developing, and interacting with an organization's workforce. It encompasses different aspects of human resource management, including recruiting, hiring, onboarding, performance monitoring, communication, employee development, rewards, and discipline.

The primary goal of employee management is to optimize the productivity, engagement, and satisfaction of employees while aligning their efforts with the organization's objectives. This way, it directly influences both the efficiency and culture of the organization, contributing to its overall performance and competitiveness.

Why is it important for organizations to focus on employee management?

Effective employee management enhances workforce efficiency, boosts productivity, and reduces long-term costs associated with turnover and inefficiencies. As a result, it fosters a positive work environment with higher job satisfaction and morale. 

Employee management helps establish clear expectations, promotes employee growth, and builds trust, all of which collectively lead to a more engaged and retained workforce.

5 top employee management best practices

Everything HR leaders do falls under the umbrella of employee management. We identified five best practices that will help you tackle the latest challenges:

1. Develop your employees

Give your team opportunities for skill development, training, and career growth. This will keep them motivated and invested in their roles and also help you find leaders within the organization when it is time to expand.

Developing your employees is more important than ever because the skills required for different jobs are changing rapidly. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, the skill sets required for all types of jobs have changed by 25% since 2015, and will change by 50% by 2027. With new AI-powered tools automating repetitive tasks, it is time to upskill your employees so they can keep up with the latest technologies.

There are three major areas where you can develop your employees:

  • Technical training — This type of training is essential for employees to acquire specific knowledge and expertise relevant to their job, stay updated with industry advancements, and contribute to company success. Implement technical skills training through a combination of classroom training, online courses, workshops, on-the-job training, and provide access to resources like manuals and tutorials.
  • Soft skills training —  Soft skills training involves developing emotional intelligence, active listening, and effective communication. Implement soft skills training through workshops, coaching sessions, role-playing exercises, and e-learning modules.
  • Leadership skills training — Leadership skills training is crucial for individuals preparing for leadership roles to develop competencies such as decision-making, strategic thinking, team management, and conflict resolution. Implement leadership skills training by offering leadership development programs, mentoring, coaching, and leadership workshops to build the capabilities needed for effective leadership within their organization.

A good mentoring program covers all three of the above and more. In a mentoring relationship, mentees receive guidance and knowledge transfer on technical aspects specific to their roles. Additionally, mentors provide valuable feedback and coaching on soft skills, such as communication, interpersonal effectiveness, and adaptability, helping mentees navigate workplace challenges and build stronger relationships. 

Mentors also prepare mentees for leadership roles by offering guidance on decision-making, team management, and professional growth. All you need is to pair the right mentees and mentors together, and track your employee engagement rates and performance.

2. Set clear expectations for performance evaluations

Setting clear expectations provides a structured framework for evaluating and managing employee performance. It promotes transparency and accountability in the organization. According to Gallup, only 48% of employees know what’s expected of them, and their knowledge of intrinsic and extrinsic expectations is directly proportional to their level of engagement with the organization. 

By setting clear expectations, you empower employees to understand their roles, contribute effectively, and take ownership of their performance. When expectations are well-defined, employees understand what is expected of them and what they need to do to grow within the organization. To achieve this, follow these steps:

  • Outline the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that will be used to evaluate employees. These metrics should be aligned with the employee's role and the organization's goals.
  • Engage in open and ongoing communication with employees about their performance expectations. Hold regular check-ins to discuss progress and provide feedback.
  • Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals. This helps in creating a clear path towards success.
  • Maintain written records of performance expectations, goals, and objectives. Share these documents with employees to keep them informed and accountable.

In addition to the above, provide constructive feedback to your team and recognize their progress.

3. Build an environment of trust and autonomy

Building an environment of trust and autonomy in an organization leads to higher morale, increased productivity, greater innovation, and improved retention rates. A study by Jabra found that employees that have high autonomy are significantly more motivated and productive than ones with little to no autonomy.

When employees feel trusted and empowered, they are more engaged, motivated, and productive. Here's how you can build this environment:

  • Trust your employees to carry out their tasks without constant oversight. Micromanagement can stifle creativity and demotivate your team.
  • Acknowledge the importance of personal space and privacy in the workplace. Avoid unnecessary intrusions into your employees' personal lives or excessive monitoring.
  • Allow employees the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Encourage them to find solutions and innovate within their roles.
  • Create a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. When they know their voices are heard, trust deepens.
  • Acknowledge and reward employees for their contributions and achievements. Recognition reinforces trust and motivates individuals to excel.

Incorporating trust and autonomy into your management style cultivates a positive work environment that fosters growth, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.

4. Recognize and reward exceptional performance

According to Nectar, 83.6% of employees believe that recognition leads to higher motivation. Recognizing exceptional performance will help you build a positive workplace culture where employees support one another and celebrate achievements together. 

Once you have initiated training and mentoring programs for your employees, set clear and quantifiable goals for them, and given them the autonomy to do their jobs with a reasonable degree of freedom, make sure you have monetary and non-monetary incentives in place to appreciate their performance. Here’s what you can do to get the most out of your employee recognition program:

  • Recognize your employees’ achievements promptly. Sometimes a timely thank-you note or a public shout-out are more impactful than a delayed formal awards ceremony.
  • Recognize and reward your team based on their individual preferences. Some employees may prefer public recognition, while others may appreciate private acknowledgment.
  • Combine monetary incentives like bonuses or salary increases with non-monetary rewards such as extra time off, flexible work arrangements, or professional development opportunities.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer recognition programs where employees can nominate their colleagues for exceptional efforts. This promotes a supportive and collaborative work environment.
  • Make sure that the criteria for recognition and rewards are transparent and clearly communicated to all employees. This prevents ambiguity and promotes fairness.
  • Recognize exceptional performance consistently, not just during annual reviews. Regular acknowledgment reinforces positive behavior.
  • Celebrate significant milestones, both personal and professional, to show that you care about your employees' overall well-being.

By consistently acknowledging outstanding efforts and providing both monetary and non-monetary incentives, you can create a positive work environment, boost loyalty, and improve the overall well-being and performance of your team.

5. Establish clear policies around your work model

There’s a significant disconnect between what employees desire and what employers are planning when it comes to work models. 98% of remote workers want to continue working remotely and 90% of companies intend to return to full in-office operations by the end of 2024. 

This is a tough situation for HR managers focused on employee management. On one hand, you have your team pushing for remote work and on the other you have your organization’s leadership planning to go back to a conventional, pre-covid work model. Whether you decide to stick with remote work, switch to a hybrid model, or go back to an on-site model, make sure you have clear policies and guidelines around your work model.

  • If you choose to stick to a 100% remote work model, define the guidelines for attendance, communication, and technology use once more. Reiterate your commitment to stay 100% remote and communicate to your employees why you have chosen to do so.
  • When moving to a hybrid model, make sure your employees have access to the necessary tools to seamlessly switch between remote and in-office work. Outline specific guidelines for when and how employees can work remotely or in the office. Also, define performance metrics and expectations for both remote and in-office work.
  • If you are moving from a remote or hybrid work model to an on-site model, explain the reasons for the shift back to on-site work to your employees. Address their concerns and provide a timeline for the change. Give your team technology training, updates on company policies, and guidance on new on-site work expectations.

After establishing and communicating policies around your work model, encourage your employees to provide feedback and address their concerns promptly.

Real life examples of effective employee management

There are many successful employee management case studies out there, we have chosen Netflix, HEINEKEN, and Apple because of their exceptional culture, employee development, and rewards programs.

Netflix’s environment of trust and autonomy

Netflix's "Freedom and Responsibility" culture is a unique and widely recognized approach to employee management that emphasizes trust, autonomy, and accountability within the company. This culture has been a key driver of Netflix's success and has garnered significant attention in the business world. They give employees the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their work, coupled with the responsibility to deliver results.

Netflix adopted this culture for several reasons. It aligns with the company's focus on innovation, attracts top talent, and simplifies management. By operating with fewer rules and processes, Netflix streamlines decision-making and stays nimble.

HEINEKEN's employee development program

HEINEKEN's employee development program is a comprehensive initiative designed to support the company's transformative EverGreen strategy. This program places a strong emphasis on talent acquisition, management, leadership development, and continuous learning. They have a carefully crafted leadership development curriculum, which targets critical employee segments. It includes programs like:

  • The Women's Interactive Network (WIN) for female talent
  • The HEINEKEN International Management Course (HIMAC) for senior managers

The participants of these programs engage in a six-month learning journey, which involves assessments, action learning projects, and interactive sessions led by both faculty and business leaders. Beyond classroom-based learning, HEINEKEN's approach extends into the daily work environment, promoting coaching, mentoring, and performance feedback. The program's success is measured not only through surveys but also by the development of a continuous learning mindset within employees, contributing to the company's ability to adapt and excel in an evolving business landscape.

Apple's rewards program

Apple's rewards program is a comprehensive initiative designed to acknowledge and incentivize the hard work, dedication, and contributions of its employees. This program operates on a meritocratic basis, meaning that recognition and rewards are directly tied to individual and team performance, as well as the company's overall success.

The rewards program includes monetary and non-monetary incentives:

  • High-performing employees who consistently excel in their roles and meet or exceed performance targets are eligible for cash bonuses and stock options.
  • They also offer free or discounted Apple products and services, extra vacation days, flexible work schedules, and access to employee wellness programs. 
  • The company highlights employees' achievements and contributions through various channels, both internally and externally. This may include mentions on the company's website, social media, press releases, and internal communications.

By recognizing and rewarding exceptional performance, Apple motivates its employees to consistently deliver their best work. This approach has proven effective in enhancing morale, increasing productivity, retaining top talent, and cultivating a positive work environment.

Enhance employee management with a mentoring program

Mentoring programs play a pivotal role in employee management by fostering professional growth, skill development, and effective leadership within an organization.

  • Mentors help mentees develop essential skills, both technical and interpersonal. This skills development empowers employees to perform their roles more effectively, contributing to improved job performance.
  • Mentees learn from experienced leaders, gaining insights into effective leadership styles and strategies. This leadership development not only benefits individual employees but also supports succession planning and talent management efforts.
  • Mentoring programs create a sense of belonging and purpose among employees as they feel valued and supported in their professional growth.
  • Effective mentoring encourages open and honest communication between mentors and mentees, leading to better employee-manager relationships.

Together helps you build mentoring programs that facilitate the transfer of knowledge from mentors to mentees. You can use our platform to help mentees set goals and create a path for advancement within the organization. The platform is secure, easy to use, and offers off-the-shelf templates that you can use as a starting point to build your own mentoring program. 

Don’t just take our word for it, book a demo to see our software in action

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