Why you should be encouraging an outcome-based work culture

Our relationship with the workplace has changed drastically over recent months. More than two-thirds (67%) of workers now identify as ‘homesteaders’ who mainly work remotely, according to a recent social poll by Robert Half

This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Robert Half

In January Robert Half launched a Special UK report in association with Burning Glass which surveyed 1,800 executives from across the globe. According to 89% of respondents, the hybrid work model is now a permanent fixture of the employment landscape, resulting in an ‘anywhere workforce’.

For successful work to continue in this new landscape, employers will need to change their approach to people management. When asked how they plan to support the hybrid workplace model, most CEOs said they were switching to an outcome-based work culture for the second half of 2021 – this is according to new research conducted in April for the most recent Special UK report.

Find out how to successfully transition to an outcomes culture, how to correctly assign objectives, and the best way to facilitate this culture from the top down.

What is an ‘outcome-based’ work culture?

An outcome-based work culture (OBC) encourages workers to achieve a clear set of objectives, independently, in a way that suits them. For this to be effective, business leaders need to clearly define the objectives and establish a timescale in which they should be delivered.

The outcome-based model stands in opposition to an input-based work culture, which measures worker effectiveness by time spent at a desk or performing tasks. In OBC the outcomes are the metric of measurement, not the time or method taken to get there.

What are the benefits and how does it support hybrid working?

An outcome-based culture perfectly suits hybrid work models and supports the development of in-demand skills like communication, agility and software literacy. Higher engagement is the natural outcome of allowing workers to have autonomy over the level of success they achieve at work. A survey by Gallup showed engaged employees to be more enthusiastic, more innovative and more productive.

The last few months have seen the UK workforce speed towards total burnout. Rather than rewarding desk time, presenteeism and high-volume manual labour, the outcome-based culture puts employees in a position to prioritise essential goals and to take time off when needed.

How to support an outcome-based work culture in a remote environment

1) Have a clear understanding of your outcomes
There’s no room for ambiguity in an outcome-based work culture; moving the goalposts or changing the requirements can hurt the overall aim of this approach which is to facilitate freedom and creative problem-solving within a firm framework. Ensure the outcomes align with the organisation’s mission and are assigned to workers in the most appropriate roles.

2) Resist the urge to micromanage
Micromanaging isn’t the point of this workplace culture model — you cannot give independence, responsibility and autonomy to workers while continuing to loiter over their shoulders. Progress updates can be baked into monthly one-to-one meetings with workers, so they can update you on their progress and share plans with you.

3) Ensure the right skills are in the right roles
Do your workers have the right skills to achieve the outcomes you’ve set? Before you can make a true success of this workplace culture, you need to ensure you’ve hired the right skills into the right roles and that all workers have sufficient training. Perform a skills gap analysis before you begin, so you can allocate training where needed.

4) Keep the lines of communication open
Although this particular culture values worker autonomy, your direct reports still need to feel they can come to you with problems and queries. Much as you did during the height of the pandemic, make yourself available for video meetings and ‘phone calls to support staff as they strive to achieve the objectives you’ve set for them.

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