Performance conversations, also known as performance reviews or appraisals, are a common practice in many organisations. They typically involve a formal discussion between an employee and their manager to assess the employee’s performance, provide feedback, set goals, and discuss career development.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition that annual performance reviews may not be the most effective approach to managing and developing employee performance. Many organisations are shifting towards more frequent feedback and coaching conversations, which enable timely course corrections and ongoing development. This approach allows for a more dynamic and collaborative approach to performance management.
Employee satisfaction with the learn/work environment. The interplay of Real Estate (RE), Facility Management (FM), Information Technology (IT) and Human Resourses (HR) plays a crucial role in creating a conducive learn/work environment. It makes sense that the Human Resources department takes the lead in orchestrating the experience of people in places that matter and work—aligning the place to the people it has to support because place comes after people. Realising simultaneously that work is what you do and not a place. Work on-site and distantly in third places or at home are equal.
To what extent does the physical (Bricks) and digital (Bytes) work environment support their work, well-being and health?
However, it is also closely related to satisfaction with the social (Behavior) learn/work environment and the work itself.
Besides the learn/work activities or tasks also the workers’ job characteristics and students’ learning styles, influence the perceived fit of the learn/work environment. As do behavioural patterns, psychological needs and demographic characteristics.
The figure shows how the four Strategic Alignment Matrix frames give constraints for the Physical (bricks), Digital (bytes) and Social (behaviour) components of a learn/work environment.
The periodic Human Resources (HR) review pays attention to the performance of the employees, but little or no attention to the environment in which they have to perform. A questionnaire about the learn/work environment in combination with the periodic HR performance review offers opportunities to attract, better facilitate and retain employees.
By including discussions on the learn/work environment in performance conversations, organisations can gain insights into areas where improvements can be made. These conversations provide an opportunity for employees to express their needs, concerns, and suggestions for creating a more positive and productive learn/work environment.
The manager assesses the employee’s performance based on predetermined criteria, such as goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), or competencies. They provide feedback on strengths and areas for improvement. In addition to evaluating individual performance, it is also beneficial to assess and discuss the learn/work environment in which employees operate. This broader assessment can provide valuable insights into the factors that affect an employee’s productivity, engagement, and overall satisfaction at work.
A management team that is aware of the strategic opportunities of a harmonized environment (Physical, Digital and Social space), together with the help of interdisciplinary specialists, can create a difference in unlocking and unleashing human potential. An A3 Strategic Management Canvas or Accommodation Roadmap helps in defining and navigating your own path and pace in the ever-changing complex ecosystem of the physical, digital and social environment. Regular performance reviews of the learn/work environment are a tool for managing the knowledge required to ensure continuous improvement and a learning organisation.
Periodically conducting an environment appraisal (user, area, building and money), with a 360° feedback assessment on matters that contribute to policy goals with their prioritization, is an essential input to assess the degree of being in control with the learn/work environment and to fine-tune. Not only measurement information is required but you need also values to determine what an adequate learn/work environment is for your specific national and local context.
Periodic measuring of user satisfaction helps to timely identify a mismatch between the learn/work environment and the current educational process. And to prioritise interventions based on the users’ perceived fit of their needs and abilities with the learn/work environment. It provides more customisation and more attention to differences between organisational units. Measuring hard and soft data provides feedback and a sharper focus in addition to gut feelings, experiences or observations.
‘Does your built environment still meet your present needs and wishes?’
In addition to measuring the hard objective data (area, building, money), the soft subjective data on user satisfaction and behaviour is also relevant. This enables addressing the main question: ‘Is the learn/work environment desirable and adding relevant value?’ by answering the following four sub-questions.
Measuring hard and soft data provides feedback and a sharper focus in addition to gut feelings, experiences or observations. The performance appraisal should be holistic and consists of two parts: determining the objective quality of the learn/work environment using for example the Real Estate Norm method and measuring the subjective user experience through an online questionnaire and in-depth interviews. Be aware that you only ask for information that you are willing to act on. Measuring both quantitative and qualitative make the measurements more meaningful.
When evaluating employee performance and satisfaction with the learn/work environment, several factors should be considered.
- Physical Workspace: Real Estate (RE), including building layout, amenities, design and other physical infrastructure, can significantly impact employee productivity, engagement and overall satisfaction. Factors such as ergonomic furniture, adequate lighting, proper ventilation, temperature, noise control and access to green spaces are important for creating a comfortable and healthy work environment.
Facility Management (FM) encompasses various aspects of maintaining and managing the physical workplace. This includes ensuring cleanliness, safety, security, and the availability of essential facilities such as meeting rooms, restrooms, and break areas. Effective FM practices contribute to employees’ well-being and overall satisfaction with the learn/work environment.
- Digital Workspace: Information Technology (IT) plays a critical role in supporting employees’ digital work environment. Reliable and efficient digital infrastructure, including network connectivity, hardware, software, and collaboration tools, enables employees to perform their tasks effectively, collaborate with colleagues, and remotely access necessary resources.
- Social Workspace: Human Resources (HR) plays a vital role in ensuring that the work environment aligns with employees’ needs and expectations. This includes implementing policies and programs that promote work-life balance, reduce work-related stress, provide professional development opportunities, and foster a positive and inclusive culture. HR can also gather employee feedback to identify areas for improvement and address any concerns related to the learn/work environment.
In summary, the physical, digital and social learn/work environments are all three important in supporting employees’ work, well-being, and health. To align the physical and digital work environments with employee needs, organisations should prioritize a people-centred approach. This involves considering employee preferences, and feedback, and providing flexibility in how and where work is performed.
The integration of Real Estate (RE), Facility Management (FM), Information Technology (IT), and Human Resources (HR) becomes crucial in creating a cohesive and supportive environment that enhances work, well-being, and health. Regular assessments and feedback from employees can help organisations identify areas for improvement and create a positive and supportive learn/work environment.
The role of the real estate, facility and IT manager is a supportive one in many organisations. A role in which often existing assumptions are fulfilled and not in which these assumptions are established. In an accommodation project, however, this supporting role is not sufficient.
The real estate, facility or IT manager must profile himself and be able to discuss organisational goals from operational to strategic level and translate these into learn/work environment consequences and back into relevant management information.
He must know the factors that determine whether the learn/work environment will work for the organisation or not. For that, data-driven decision-making is required to bridge the gap and achieve alignment at a strategic level instead of lagging behind the facts.
Begin by clarifying the goals and objectives of the building performance review. What aspects do you want to assess? Are there any specific targets or benchmarks you want to achieve?
- How do you align the capacity and specifications of the learn/work environment with the organisational strategy in a transparent and proactive manner to communicate with the stakeholders?
- How do you integrate Real Estate, Facility Management and Information Technology assets into a coherent learn/work environment (cross-functional integration – the whole is more than the sum of its parts)?
- How do you keep, after delivery, the accommodation aligned with the dynamic strategy, so that it remains adequate (periodic 360° feedback evaluation)?
- How do you involve the management team and the users in the coordination and future-proofing of the whole (brief /design and evaluations)?
- What does a (periodic) evaluation of the learn/work environment consist of to improve and secure performance?
- How do you align accommodation risk management with the organisation’s approach to risk management?
- How do you enrich the input for quarterly reports, the annual budget and the annual report with qualitative data, in addition to the quantitative data?
The answers to the above 7 questions give insight into where is it in line with policy and strategy and where are there substantial deviations. How bad are the deviations and what can go wrong as a result (risks)? Is adjustment necessary/desired? What does it yield and what does it cost in terms of effort/money?
The Real Estate GPS offers smart systematic data collection that considers that the specific requirements and focus areas may vary depending on the type of building and its intended use. The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to your building’s operations and objectives are based on the eight constraints of a project: Scope, Time, Resources, Experience, Risk, Information, Cost, and Quality (STRERICQ). This supports a periodic 360° feedback survey about the learn/work environment to unlock potential and formulate the risks, the control measures and the actions. An approach that integrates many different angles into a more cohesive whole.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or performance indicators, in general, must be convertible into actions. For each KPI, ask the question ‘What do we do with it in practice?’. If you don’t have a concrete answer to this, it’s not a useful KPI. In practice, many KPIs are often not used but only processed in a dashboard. One should focus on services and policy objectives, not on producing figures. And always link the KPIs to the relevant department or team that can influence them.
A third additional analysis is:
- Satisfaction analysis (subjective opinion survey) – Are the users (employees, students) of the accommodation satisfied and motivated by the learn/work environment? (Engagement) How do they perceive the contribution of the environment to their productivity, study yield, safety, health and well-being?
Success is virtually assured when goals are formulated as concretely and objectively as possible, are prioritized based on their impact and feasibility and improvement plans are drawn up in such a way that there is no doubt about how the plan should be implemented. Indicating in advance how the performance of the learn/work environment is evaluated contributes to creating a feedback loop.
Making data SMARTI (Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, Time-bound and Inspiring), in a language for non-professionals in the field of real estate, facility management and information technology, makes communication easier. Consequences for the learn/work environment due to changing ambition levels as a result of different insights about education and/or external developments can thus be mapped out, discussed and integrally weighed up earlier. It’s about using measures as feedback for ongoing business improvement.
“Don’t measure to prove; measure to improve.”
Comparing multiple datasets reveals relationships that were previously hidden. This means that decision-making no longer has to be based on gut feeling and suspicions alone. There can be conversations that might not take place without these facts and data. It can then also serve for the governance of the real estate portfolio, consultation with internal users and external suppliers, as input for an accommodation section in the financial statements, substantiation of the annual budget and as a Human Capital instrument.
This transparent way of working prevents an ad hoc approach, in which goals and criteria are constantly shifting and it is not possible to determine afterwards whether the intended results have been achieved. It also makes periodic reassessment possible, so that the focus remains on the set (current) goals instead of just reporting on the past. It also helps in an exploration of the degree of future resilience.
Communicate findings and action plans: Share the review findings, including both successes and areas for improvement, with relevant stakeholders. Collaboratively develop action plans to address deficiencies and involve key individuals or departments responsible for implementing the necessary changes.
Remember that an annual building performance review should be an ongoing process. Regular monitoring, evaluation, and continuous improvement efforts are crucial for optimizing building performance and achieving long-term (sustainability) goals.
Advantages of a more data-driven decision making:
- Gaining more insight and control.
- A more efficient decision-making process.
- A better understanding of problems and issues.
- Better solutions/decisions through an iterative process.