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How to create a performance improvement plan fit for hybrid working and Gen Z

Performance improvement plans (PIPs) or personal development plans (PDPs) used to be the go-to method for boosting employee performance in the workplace.

However, the current work environment, particularly with the advent of remote working, makes it challenging to keep a close eye on employees, and the emergence of Gen Z in the workforce has brought new expectations and behaviours.

What’s a PIP?

A PIP outlines an employee's areas of weakness and provides a roadmap to improve their performance, helping them to avoid termination, demotion or transfer.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at how to create a PIP for the hybrid working environment and Gen Z.

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Understand Gen Zs and their working style

Gen Zs, the generation born from 1996 to 2010, are digital natives, and multitaskers. They expect autonomy in their roles and appreciate flexibility, especially with working hours. They are goal-oriented and seek instant gratification and transparency, which means they expect clear and comprehensive communication from employers.

Understand the remote working challenge

With PIPs for remote workers, the management team cannot always observe employees’ efforts throughout the day or have meaningful conversations about progress. Employee performance is also highly dependent on the tools and resources your business has provided them with.

It is essential, then, to consider how performance can be monitored remotely and also how expectations must change when managing a more distributed workforce.

Focus on outcomes not output

Rather than using the number of hours worked, or productivity metrics such as emails sent, focus on those that measure impact and progress against goals. This shift in focus from output-based metrics to outcomes-based metrics will provide more meaningful data points for monitoring performance.

Make use of technology

There are many tools available, even AI, to monitor performance remotely and provide feedback on progress. With reporting capabilities for managers and HR teams too, it’s much easier to identify trends and areas of improvement.

Additionally, video conferencing should be used to keep employees connected and engaged with each other, as well as providing an opportunity for regular check-ins.

Involve your employees in setting goals

Employees are more inclined to feel motivated and enthusiastic about their work when they have a say in their goals. Involve your hybrid and Gen Z employees in goal-setting sessions to give them sense of ownership.

Consider a behavioural approach

A behavioural approach to a PIP/PDP may be more effective for remote and hybrid working environments. Instead of focusing on past mistakes or performance gaps, you can encourage employees to focus on future goals and use positive reinforcement to drive success. You can also use gamification to motivate employees by turning the PIP into a game or challenge.

Integrate soft skills development

Effective communication, emotional intelligence, adaptability, and problem-solving skills are critical for success in the hybrid working environment and highly valued by Gen Z employees. Incorporating soft skills development into the PIP process can improve performance and increase employee motivation.

Monitor and adjust the plan regularly

A PIP isn't a one-time activity; it is a continuous process. After setting clear goals and expectations, monitor employee performance and provide regular feedback. This can help to optimise employee performance, reduce the risk of dissatisfaction and increase engagement levels.

It's time to adapt your PIPs to the current work environment and employee expectations. By implementing these changes, you can build an effective PIP fit for hybrid working and Gen Z.

Ian Moore is managing director of HR consultancy Lodge Court