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Navigating Fair Employment: Aligning Practices with Workplace Fairness Legislation




In August 2023, the Government accepted the 22 recommendations proposed by the Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness (the Tripartite Committee) for the Workplace Fairness Legislation (WFL). This marks a significant stride towards fostering inclusivity and equity in workplaces while offering greater protection for workers. The imminent enactment of this legislation, alongside the Tripartite Guidelines for Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP), underscores the imperative for organisations to critically evaluate their existing human resource policies and practices for any conscious or subconscious lapses in fairness to ensure alignment with emerging standards.


Encompassing all phases of employment – from recruitment to termination – the new WFL mandates employers to establish mechanisms for resolving grievances and disputes, emphasising the preservation of workplace harmony. Despite growing awareness surrounding fair recruitment practices, comparatively less emphasis has been placed on fostering fairness during the in-employment stage. This is where the process of performance management comes in. The perceived lack of fairness in the award of rewards and recognition, is often the result of the lack of clarity of expectations and goals between individuals and management. Well designed and well implemented performance assessment systems & processes can mitigate this sense of unfairness.


Understanding Performance Management


Performance management constitutes a multifaceted process integral to effective human capital management. It encompasses various objectives, including the motivation of employee performance, cultivation of a performance-driven culture, identification of poorer performers, and alignment of performance with incentives. 


At its core, performance management serves the following purposes: 


  1. Facilitating Constructive Feedback and Goal Setting Performance management provides a structured framework for employees to receive feedback on their performance and collaborate with them to set meaningful goals. This process motivates and guides employees to strive for continuous improvement, enhancing growth within the organisation.

  2. Identifying and Addressing Underperformance Performance management provides a structured framework for employees to receive feedback on their performance and collaborate with them to set meaningful goals. This process motivates and guides employees to strive for continuous improvement, enhancing growth within the organisation.

  3. Nurturing High Performers By systematically evaluating employee performance, organisations can identify underperforming employees and implement targeted interventions to enhance their productivity.


Effective performance management recognises and rewards high performers, thereby fostering a culture of excellence and incentivising continued achievement.


Key Components of Effective Performance Management


There are two key components central to building a robust performance management system:


  1. Setting Clear Goals Organisations should define specific, measurable objectives that are in line with their overarching mission and vision. These goals should be communicated transparently to employees to ensure clarity and alignment.

  2. Establishing Core Competencies In addition to goal-setting, organisations should identify the core competencies essential for success. These competencies encompass behavioural attributes aligned to the organisation’s desired culture and values system, providing a comprehensive framework for performance evaluation. 


Implementing an Effective Performance Management System


Fairness and transparency are foundational principles in performance management, ensuring equitable treatment of employees and fostering trust within the organisation.


Set Fair Goals

Fairness in performance management is inherently subjective, as perceptions of fairness may vary among individuals. Consequently, one should strive to eliminate unconscious biases from the evaluation process, and instead depend on transparent and equitable criteria to evaluate and reward.


Examples of fair criteria include assessing employee competencies through outcome-driven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). For instance, measuring client satisfaction can include adherence to deadlines and the acquisition of new clients. These tangible indicators of performance quality focus on measurable outcomes rather than arbitrary measures like office attendance, which may not accurately reflect an employee's contributions.


By adopting a fair and objective approach to performance evaluation, organisations can foster a culture of transparency and accountability, thereby maximising employee engagement and organisational success.


Set Clear Goals

Clear communication of performance expectations and evaluation criteria is essential to promoting transparency and avoiding confusion. Employees should know what is expected of them and why. 


One way to set clear goals is to use specific, measurable, and actionable metrics. For example, instead of requiring that customer service staff "respond quickly to customer inquiries," it is better to specify how quickly the staff should respond and what counts as not quick enough.


In turn, giving clear expectations then allows managers to give fairer assessments. Managers would be able to identify the areas where employees are doing well and where improvement is needed. Overall, clear goals lead to a better understanding of expectations and help everyone work towards the same objectives.


To enhance your performance management system, consider utilising tools like TAFEP’s Performance Evaluation and Development Plan or technology platforms such as entomo. Such solutions seamlessly integrate with existing systems, enabling the collection of crucial organisational data like sales and productivity metrics. With supervisors and employees able to monitor and track performance on a single platform, performance evaluation tools facilitate regular check-ins and discussions around performance achievements. By leveraging technology-driven solutions, organisations can streamline evaluation processes, provide timely feedback, and foster a culture of continuous improvement.


Review criteria regularly to remove discrimination in the appraisal system

Discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of employees based on certain protected characteristics, such as age, nationality, gender, marital status, race, religion, disability, and mental health conditions, as defined by the Tripartite Committee. Regularly reviewing criteria is essential to detect and eliminate any hints of discrimination within the appraisal system. As recommended by TAFEP guidelines, scheduling regular review exercises allows organisations to ensure that their appraisal systems evolve in line with societal progress, promoting fairness and equality in the workplace.


Set up an internal appeal process to address employees’ questions and concerns on appraisals

Establishing an internal appeal process is crucial for addressing employees' questions and concerns regarding their performance appraisals. This is essential because no matter how well-designed an organisation's performance management system is, the appeal process should be subject to regular review and be flexible enough to adapt over time with the input of employee feedback. Moreover, how an organisation handles any perceived unfairness in performance appraisals would affect its compliance with WFL grievance handling practices, as outlined by TAFEP.


To implement this, follow the steps outlined in the TGFEP:

  1. Ensure there is a proper process and platform in place for employees' concerns to be heard, looked into, and resolved in a fair and timely manner.

  2. The process has been communicated to employees in various ways, such as being written in the employee handbook, or code of conduct.

  3. Employees are aware of who to approach should they wish to lodge a grievance report or file a discriminatory complaint.

  4. Confidentiality of the complaint is ensured, and it is treated with sensitivity.

  5. The affected employees are informed about when the outcome will be communicated to them.


For further guidance, refer to the Grievance Handling Handbook PDF.


Conclusion


Implementing fair employment practices is vital to building an engaged and motivated workforce that will work towards your organisation’s goals. At aAdvantage, we are committed to supporting organisations to design and implement tailored performance management solutions that promote equity, efficiency, and employee development – in doing so, comply with the WFL.


Learn how aAdvantage can work with organisations like yours to deliver measurable and sustainable business value by co-creating the right policies for your organisation’s needs, at our Human Capital Solutions page.


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