This report is a brief explanation of the evidence-based practices that are used by people practitioners to enhance organizational performance. The report will discuss the elements of people practices and how they can be made better.
Task one: Briefing paper
Evidence-based practice and its usage for people practitioners
Evidence-based practice is a systematic and comprehensive practice that allows to carry forward activities and take decisions according to the availability of the best possible evidence. Evidence-based practice is generally free from any bias and is highly objective, neglecting the subjective aspects that can have an effect on decision-making. In evidence-based practices, certain processes are applied that require adequate skills to analyze and interpret the information available. The judgments that are made with the help of evidence-based practices are based upon valid shreds of evidence for the scenario in question. It is a highly objective and technical tool for decision-making. There are four basic sources for people practitioners to apply an evidence-based decision-making approach in an adequate manner. The best of the organizational evidence comes first which includes the internal data sets of the organization. Secondly, the professional experience or the adequate requirement of skills by the practitioners turns up as a valid source. The best scientific research that takes into account the external findings is a valid source as well. Stakeholder concerns and relevant organizational values give appropriate information as well (Rayborn and Butcher, 2018).
Evidence-based practice is vital for people practitioners as it gives them precise and objective approaches and tools to deal with a variety of organizational issues and people practices. An organization contains a group of people that come from various backgrounds and have different personalities. It is absolutely vital for people practitioners to take effective decisions to manage different people within an organization. An evidence-based approach can be tremendously useful for the same. It can help the people practitioners in gaining credible evidence that comes from a quality source. The evidence derived through scientific and objective methods through an evidence-based approach is relevant in the context of the case under study. The evidence gathered will be precise and concise at the same time. This prevents it from being overloaded with trivial information. Decision-making becomes easier and quicker because of the concise and relevant evidence available. The evidence-based approach provides the people practitioner with timely evidence that is relevantly dated and not too old to run on the risk of obsoleteness. Fresh information with adequate evidence is provided for better decision-making. The analysis tools available in evidence-based practices are unanimous and can be adequately used to derive relevant and usable conclusions (Netti, et al, 2019). This helps in precise judgments and informative decision-making to the practitioners so that the organizational challenges and people issues that present themselves are dealt with in an efficient manner.
Micro and Macro analysis tools
Porter’s forces: Porter’s 5 forces model is a micro/macro environment analysis tool that gives an idea of an organization’s competitive rivalry by analyzing the power buyers have over the company’s products, the power sellers have in the supply chain of the company, the threats posed by substitute products and new entrants. All these factors shape the company’s positions in the market along with the competitors. This model is useful in assessing the power of an organization in the market and to what extent is the presence of the organization viable (Marchevsky, et al, 2020).
Fig: Porter’s 5 force model
STEEPLE analysis: Another macro analysis tool is the STEEPLE analysis. It takes the macro-environmental factors that can directly or indirectly change the direction an organization is going in. The elements analyzed in this are social, economic, ethical, political, legal, and environment legal, and environmental (Bowers, 2018). This analysis helps a business in intricately studying these broad factors and combining the information ascertained to formulate strategies to combat the negative aspects of the business environment.
Ansoff matrix: The Ansoff matrix analyses the microenvironmental factors that can have a significant effect on a business's working. It brings forward 4 new strategies and assesses each one of them according to the risks associated in order to achieve superior business growth. Strategies are related to existing and new markets. Market penetration & product development along with market development and product diversification respectively. These are 4 generic strategies that an organization analyzes and applies to attain growth (Cleary-Holdforth, 2017). The matrix gives insights upon whether to keep developing the existing markets or to enter into new markets and augment the reach of the organization. Informed and lucrative decisions can come forth with the help of this matrix.
Fig: Ansoff matrix
TOWS matrix: A TOWS matrix analyses the microenvironmental factors of an organization and is way more logical than a generic SWOT analysis. A TOWS matrix combines the strengths & weaknesses of an organization with the opportunities & threats to ascertain the most prominent elements of a business. With the help of a TOWS matrix, the strengths of an organization are leveraged to new levels and the weaknesses are addressed in a more logical manner. The opportunities are combined with core strengths to maximize them and the threats that the business has are managed in a well-informed manner.
Fig: TOWS matrix
These 4 analysis tools can help a business significantly improve the business growth by bringing in due change in people practices. People practitioners can take the help from porter’s 5 forces to bring the people within the organization in line with the competitive goals that the organization aims to achieve by devising strategies that aim at increasing competitiveness. Similarly, with a STEEPLE analysis, a broader understanding of the business environment can be gauged and employees can be brought in line with changes that occur outside of the organization. With a TOWS matrix people, practitioners can ascertain the interconnection between the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the organization and to what extent the people of the organization contribute to each of these elements. The analysis of an Ansoff matrix can give insights on what specific aspects of the people within the organization can help the business move forward in the direction of either market augmentation or product augmentation (Chua, et al, 2019).
Principles of critical thinking
Critical thinking involves examining knowledge or any form of information with the help of supporting evidence and then drawing conclusions for effective decision-making. Critical thinking involves scrutinizing the available information according to the various positives and negatives that can be derived through it. All this is done to analyze the available data to foster a business case that is highly evidence-based. The principles of critical thinking are basic and objective in nature. In critical thinking, the subject in question has to be analyzed from a variety of vantage points by using different sources to gather appropriate evidence. Checking how accurate the evidence is one of the major principles on which critical thinking works. Checking flawed information and subjective biases holds its importance in critical thinking and decision-making. When a subject has been properly analyzed from the viewpoint of self then it should also be analyzed from the viewpoint of other authors and theorists to reach the best possible alternate. Checking the context of the data analysis is vital. Nothing should be trivial and unnecessary (Wilson, 2021). Due diligence to be applied in arguing why the decision chosen will be more beneficial than the various other decisions available is one of the conclusive steps of critical thinking. Critical thinking and subsequent decision-making at the end in people practices involve adequate representation of data and decisions derived from it so that the readers and followers can have acceptance towards the logical reasoning behind the decision taken.
When applying critical thinking in my own professional field I closely look at the principles stated and also get my team to adhere to these principles. In a situation where I have to deal with the issue of recruiting a new team for a newly developed role, I will look at the available channels of recruitment and assess which channel can give me the best possible candidates with an optimum level of costs. Further, I will assess the benefits and costs associated with filling some of the roles from internal sources of recruitment and why these sources can be preferred over the external ones (Kuhn, 2019). All this has to be done keeping in mind the departmental requirements in order to keep the flow of information logical and the gathering of information in an adequate context. All these analyses and thoughtful thinking can give me the tools to churn out the best candidates for the roles.
Ethics and decision-making
Ethics is an important of people practices simply because of the fact that a human element is involved and it cannot always run on objectivity no matter how much a people practitioner tries. Ethics include the moral values within a culture, society, or organization that drive the attitude and beliefs of people within that ecosystem. In business acting more responsibly, professionally, and in an equitable manner forms the basic ideology of ethics.
One of the ethical theories is utilitarianism. It outlines the argument that decisions should be taken considering the net benefits that the decisions will provide to the majority of the people in question. This ethical theory goes beyond rules, laws, and policies to give what the majority wants. The theory looks at the end results rather than the means of getting to that end result. A utilitarian approach can be beneficial while making decisions that are long-term and will show up positive results in the future rather than on an immediate basis. From an organizational perspective if the majority of the employees are willing to integrate two departments to form a bigger department and are also willing to go on a strike if their demand is not fulfilled, then the business has to follow a utilitarian approach and look at the overall long term picture of the drastic effects a non-fulfillment in demand of employees can have. In this scenario, an organization has to take the decision of integration even if it asks to bend the rules and diverges from the interests of minority supervisory groups (Latan, et al, 2019).
One more ethical theory that is in prominence in the modern business environment is Altruism. It works upon the structure of selfless service. This ethical theory states that people have moral obligations towards the groups they are working in and should be willing to help the community at all times even if that means forgoing ones' own interests. This theory is highly helpful in enhancing the personal well-being on a mental stage. It is a highly respected approach and is tough to implement. However, if once implemented this can bring a level of personal connect and respect even in highly professional groups. In people practices this can help immensely as developing human connection and getting work done through them is the prime objective of people practitioners. For instance, if a manager forgoes a personal event in order to stay with the team to deliver a high priority project then it will have a positive impact on the people involved in the team and this will foster effective decision making as the decisions the managers make will be respectfully and whole-heartedly backed up by the team members (Avella, 2017).
Approaches to decision-making
Effective decision-making can be adequately backed by evidence-based practices. There are certain approaches that can bring effectiveness in decision-making processes according to various situations.
First comes the rational decision-making model which involves logical steps like problem identification, data collection, and interpretation to generate alternatives that can be applied to resolve the problem. Further, it evaluates all the options that are available and selects the most optimum of the alternatives and at the end executes the selected alternative in a formal manner. This approach is also known as ‘The perfect world’ approach wherein everything goes according to the plan and an immaculate logical sequence is followed without any hindrances. For instance, if the workers of an organization go on a strike and halt production demanding the methods of production to be changed to more manual ones because of the recent layoffs that happened due to AI-enabled practices. In such a situation, the rational approach can look at resolving this problem by devising alternatives like bringing back manual activities, or training the workers, or laying off some of them off to instill the technological route the organization is willing to take from now on (Flores-Garcia, et al, 2020).
Fig: Rational decision-making model
A bounded rationality approach is a trimmed-down version of a rational approach to decision-making. The decision-makers do not aim for perfect procedures and activities in this approach rather an acceptance of the hindrances that cannot be eliminated in due time is done so that a good enough decision can be made. This approach is based on the argument that the basic criteria should be fulfilled in order to take effective decisions and resources should not be deployed to convoluting limitations that will take a lot of time to stand corrected. In the same example of the worker strike, if this approach is used then it will inherently suggest that production should not be hampered and the best way to resolve this is to bring old production methods back so that the workers feel safe and content. This will allow the management to carry on production even if it is at a higher cost (Reis and Spencer, 2019).
Fig: Bounded rationality model
Another approach to decision-making is an individual versus group approach. In an individual-based approach, the accountability and responsibility increase as the decision is taken by individual personnel. An individual approach offers cost-effectiveness and is timely. However, the individual approach is susceptible to biases to a huge extent. In group-based decision-making, approach decisions are taken with the consensus of the group and the results that come out are more effective than an individual approach. The biases are brought down and expertise is increased. If the management tends to apply an individualistic approach and gives the authority to the supervisor to combat worker strike for manual production methods, then a temporary solution will definitely come up whereas if the whole department is involved to make this decision then time will be consumed and production will suffer but a better long-term decision can be arrived at (Krader, 2018).
Analysis of the chosen approach to a combat worker strike
To resolve this issue of worker strike to bring back old production methods a rational decision-making model needs to be applied. The three alternatives available are to either bring back manual production methods so that the production can go on without any risk of stoppage or to lay off some more workers in order to showcase the technological direction the organization wishes to take or to slow down production for a while to train the existing workforce and enhance their skills so that they can move ahead in organizational hierarchy and understand the cost-efficiency of the new methods included. This will take some time and also a dip in profits in the short run. The third option seems viable because employee turnover is never a good sign for an organization and production cannot be fully automated, some level of manual activity is required (Ryder, 2019). So, keeping content workers engaged in those activities is vital. The main benefit that comes out of this decision is that in the long run, the organization will have a skilled workforce. The major risk however is that the employees can leave in the midst of after the training. The financial implications will be there as the company will face a short-term dip in production subsequent profits with increased training costs but can recover exponentially in the long run. This decision was ascertained by SWOT analysis given below:
Approaches to measuring financial and non-financial performances
Measurement of performance is what keeps the flow going in people's practices. What the business has done and how people have helped the business achieve its objectives is measured by certain approaches that are both financial and non-financial in nature.
Performance in financial terms is measured by income statements, cash flow statements, the market valuation of an organization, the share prices of the company, fixed assets, book value, and many more similar tools. These tools provide quantitative data that showcases how well an organization has done over the course of the last years in the context of earning revenues and generate profits. Albeit all these activities are carried on by the personnel working within the organizations but these financial performance measures do not shed light on the people practices of an organization in a direct manner. It is an implied element that if the financial performance of a company goes up then the people practices have enhanced as well but to what extent is not provided by these measures (Baird, 2017).
On the other hand, non-financial measures include efficiency and productivity reports, customer satisfaction and retention reports, the quality of the product offered, the various business obligations that were adhered to, and other related measures are qualitative in nature and provide information regarding the internal working of a business that cannot be disclosed through financial statements. Documents such a productivity reports and quality assurance reports directly shed light on the extent to which people's practices have affected the business. Measuring the performance of people practitioners and the effects of their people practices on the overall organizational growth becomes easy through the use of qualitative information that is provided by the non-financial tools of performance measurement. Strategizing for the future of people practices can be easily done through these non-financial measures (Akroush and Awwad, 2018).
Task 2: Data analysis and review
Data analysis of Table 1 (Feedback form employees on their line manager – 256 response)
100 employees agreed that they received immense support from their line managers whereas 156 of them had contrasting views.
Only 45 employees feel that the targets set by their line manager are achievable whereas 211 employees are dissatisfied with the superficial targets set.
95 respondents feel that they have had a good learning curve and the skills they have accumulated will help them in the future while 161 of the respondents disagree with this and have had a poor learning curve within the organization.
112 respondents felt that the line manager was highly empathetic towards their work-life and provided adequate freedom for the same whereas 144 of the respondents disagreed.
Only a meager 68 respondents felt like the line manager is actually open for the self-development of employees whereas a humongous number of 188 employees felt otherwise.
219 respondents believe that the line manager is stringent and is not easily approachable whereas only 37 of them think otherwise.
86 respondents believe that the line manager is fair to each employee and avoids bias at all costs but 170 of them feel that the manager is extremely biased and favors the employees that are in managerial good books.
A good number of respondents (102) believe that the line manager is good at resolving employee conflicts but still 154 of the respondents are not convinced of the same.
There is a huge difference between the respondents who believe that the line manager is good at delegating authority and responsibility. Only 6 agree whereas 250 disagree.
Again a humongous difference between people who agree and disagree on the point of effective communication between the line manager and employees when it comes to decisions that bring change. Only 11 agree while 245 disagree.
Springston, et al (2019) state that organizational development happens when managers are well connected with the employees, especially the line managers who are in direct day-to-day contact with the workers. A good line manager can take the business operations forward in an effective and efficient manner. A good line manager needs to have self-management skills otherwise managing a team will become even more difficult. Akroush and Awwad, (2018) state that if a manger is not a good communicator and a listener simultaneously, then it can create problems for the whole team. The views of members will not be heard adequately and there will be an inaccurate communication of decisions. If these two skills are catered to then the manger can eventually go on to a path of becoming someone who sees the bigger picture. This can only happen when the manger is backed up by the team. From Department A’s analysis it seems highly unlikely that these skills are present in the line manager looking after the department.
Data analysis of Table 2 (Feedback form customers – 145 responses)
101 customers are satisfied with the goods & services offered while 44 aren’t.
Only 45 customers are happy with the delivery services that the department provides, rest 100 are discontent.
A good number of customers (114) find the quality of the goods & services offered satisfactory whereas 31 of them disagree.
The customers are not very satisfied with the customer service offered. Only 34 customers believe that the customer services offered are adequate while 111 disagree.
54 customers answered that their complaints were dealt with on a timely basis whereas 91 were dissatisfied with this aspect of the department.
118 customers were highly dissatisfied with the after-sales services offered by the company whereas just 27 were satisfied.
The department lacks any kind of proper customer service. 142 customers stated that even the initial inquiry about the products & services was not handled professionally whereas only 3 customers found it decent.
The majority of customers were happy with the packaging of goods, only 2 were dissatisfied.
A good number of people (98) told that they will recommend the products to their friends and family while 47 disagreed.
Only 31 customers agreed that the products & services provided by the company are diverse enough while 114 disagreed.
As per the words of Akroush and Awwad, (2018) customer satisfaction remains to be at the core of all business operations. If there are not customers to purchase the products and services offered then no level of efficiency in operations will be able to sustain the business. On an average 30 – 35% of customers stop interactions with a brand if they have even one bad interaction with it. On the other hand almost 60% of the customers will stop interacting after several bad experiences. Delivering value at an optimum price is important as it translates into high degree of customer satisfaction. The value derived is not just limited to the product, it goes far beyond and touches the realms of pre-sales, during sales, and after-sales services. Department A has done pretty well in delivering value to customers but there is still room for improvement.
Key systems and data in people practices
The data involved in people practices is generally recruitment data, reward & remuneration data, L&D data, Departmental performance data, compliance data, and organizational performance data. Data collected from these sources can provide people practitioners enough tools for formulating effective people practices. The data collected from these sources relate to the value perceptions, product quality, complaint handling, query responses, customer services, service quality, and value perceptions. The data has to go within certain systems to make sense and provide insights. Various systems are used by people practitioners for the same. There are a variety of information management systems that a business can put to use for drawing insights from the data pool available. Some prominent systems available currently are BanbooHR, Oracle, Sage people, iTrent, ZOHO, and many more. Organizational needs are to be precisely analyzed before choosing any one of these systems as these come at a cost and the return on investment has to be looked after. People practices also require an analysis of the internal process systems (Springston, et al, 2019). These internal systems include recruitment processes, management training systems, career progression pathways, inclusion practices, etc.
As per Springston, et al, (2019) the people analytics systems are vital for people practitioners in many aspects. Organizations generally look at increasing revenues and minimizing costs and through people analytics systems and data it becomes easier for people practitioners to ascertain revenue per employee or cost per employee. These key systems provide managers evidence-based data in analyzing important aspects of people practices like the quality of hire improvement, dollars of revenue lost because of a position vacancy, the failure rate of new hire, etc. All these aspects and analysis help people practitioners in retaining key employees, achieving a fair pay, improvement of job quality and diversity, and optimizing workforce planning to effective levels.
Value addition by people practices
The value addition done by people practices starts from recruitment itself. Bringing the right people into the organization is vital and is efficiently done by people practitioners. The process then moves further into training & development and subsequently shifts into performance management after an adequate amount of time passes. Motivating the employees and helping them find a work-life balance is one of the prime objectives of people practices and when this objective stands to be achieved the employees automatically contribute to the financial performance of a business. As per Enache, (2019) add tremendous value to an organization by the HR value chain system. It consists of 3 steps including processes related to HRM activity efficiency, HRM outcome effectiveness, and the subsequent impact of these on organizational objectives. The activities include hiring costs, hiring time, training & development budgeting, time for training, time since last promotional activities, etc., this is subsequently followed by how much engagement these activities were able to create, the retention rate, absenteeism, performance evaluation, etc. The impact is measured by analyzing the parameters such as profit margin, market share, customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, etc.
The methods that are used to measure the impact of people practices are Cost-benefit analysis, Return on investment (ROI), and Return on Equity (ROE). These methods calculate the value added by people practices in precise quantitative terms (Enache, 2019).
People practices in Department A
Department A majorly lacks behind in the people practices aspect. The analysis of Table 1 clearly showcases that the line managers are not on good terms with the employees of the department. Are not at all satisfied with the learning and development systems neither with the career progression pathways that the company provides to them. The systems that monitor work-life balance are below average and there is little to no managerial support for the same. Table 2 showcases that even though the goods & services offered are of tremendous quality but the customer engagement process is poor. The complaint handling system, query response system, and basic customer service system are below average. Table 3 showcases the budgeting failure of the department. Even though the employees have performed well but adequate budget for reward and recognition is not available. People practices of Department A are badly affected by the practices prevalent in the department (Pollock, 2018).
Department A can indulge in practices and systems related to reward and remuneration, departmental performance scrutiny, managerial scrutiny, employee voice systems, diversity inclusion, management training systems, etc., in order to improve its people practices