What are High Performance Work Systems (HPWS)?

Published on:

November 18, 2020

High Performance Work Systems

High-performance work systems can be defined as a system which creates an environment in a business that allows an employee greater involvement and responsibility. Employees are seen as valued partners of the business which makes it possible to create and maintain competitive advantage because of the commitment of the employees to help the business succeed.

A key benefit of adopting a high-performance work system is an increase in business productivity and efficiency.

What are the key features of high performance work systems?

Employees that work in a business that has adopted a high-performance work system tend to benefit from:

  • Having a voice
  • Being well trained
  • Are more motivated and committed
  • Feel more secure in their roles
  • Are carefully recruited
  • Are better compensated
  • Perhaps privy to key information

How do these benefits work and how do they impact employees?

In a high performance work system employees have a voice to air their concerns and suggestions

When your employees have a voice they are able to air their concerns and suggestions for improvements and be confident they will be listened to. This improves employee attitudes and team performance.

If they see a way they could improve the service they give to your customers it’s important that they feel comfortable in making that suggestion.

This can also improve the decision-making process by empowering your employees to be actively involved. Improved decision making, in turn, will have a direct impact on how efficiently your business runs and the productivity of your employees.

Every business, irrespective of size, suffers from inefficiencies that impact on its bottom line and the productivity of your staff. The skill comes from rooting out these inefficiencies, from the obvious to the hidden and obscure, to make your business more streamlined and a less frustrating place to work.

Your employees are at the sharp end of the businesses systems and procedures and if they can see a better way of performing a task or speeding up a process it is vital that they have the confidence to voice this so that it can improve their working environment or the service they offer your customers.

Companies that adop thigh-performance work systems tend to be bottom-up organisations that are employee-driven, actively encouraging employee participation and inclusion.

HPWS features effective employee training for maximum motivation

Continuous effective employee training is a cornerstone of high-performance work systems.

Employees who fully understand the job that they do, from the reasons for their role to the technical skills needed to be effective, tend to be engaged and motivated.

Regular training and development has a positive impact on job satisfaction, improving the efficiency of the processes, raises morale and this, in turn, helps to reduce employee turnover and the associated costs that are involved in recruitment and onboarding.

On-going training that prepares your employees to take on further responsibility is both an effective motivator and gives your employee a higher skill base that allows them to help your customers more effectively and efficiently.

In a high-performance work system employees are motivated and committed to your company’s success

Employees in organisations that have implemented high-performance work systems are motivated and committed not only to their own personal success but also the prosperity of the company.

Being part of a business where the culture is based on commitment rather than control inspires staff to buy into the businesses goals and make them their own.

They are motivated by how the business is run, the positive impact that this has on their job, wellbeing and health and the belief these companies have in the value of their employees.

Their achievements are recognised and rewarded which consequently increases their motivation and commitment.

Employee job security improves your reputation

We are in the age of the part-timeworker, temps and zero-hours contracts because many businesses want to avoid employee obligations. Unfortunately, this can potentially have an impact on your bottom line.

High-performance work systems advocate creating high trust partnerships with employees that build commitment that promotes a culture where employees are happy to go the extra mile.

Having a good reputation for the way you treat your employees and the security that you offer them can have a positive impact when you need to recruit as you’ll be able to leverage your reputation to attract the best candidates for the role you are recruiting for.

Companies like Lincoln Electric, a successful electric company in the US, guaranteed employment to workers after three years on the job.

This commitment to employee security and welfare do need to be combined with careful recruitment to ensure that the correct calibre of employees is recruited.

Employees are selectively recruited to fit your company’s culture

Companies that use a high-performance work systems approach need to recruit employees who, in addition to having the required skill set, are a good cultural fit. If you get it right, these employees have the potential to be long term team players that contribute to the growth of your company.

The recruitment process, to be effective, will have to consider questions that will help you to assess how well an individual might fit in your company

  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • How would you describe our culture? Is that what you are looking for?
  • What type of environment do you thrive in?
  • Tellme about a time where you worked at a company where the culture wasn’t a good fit?

Employing staff who not only have the skills you need but fit in with the culture of your company will allow them to do well in their new roles, be an asset to the company and will save you time and money by having to repeat the recruitment process.

Employees enjoy a better level of compensation than at other companies

When you develop a compensation program that rewards employees at all levels when the company succeeds in addition to there base salary, it promotes commitment to shared goals.

Additionally, this form of results-based reward program will increase your employee’s awareness of their role in increasing the profitability of the business.

Whole Foods, an American supermarket chain that is listed as one of Fortune’s ‘100 best companies to work for’ every year that the list has been produced, has invested in a similar system and has reaped the benefits of putting their employees first and so have their customers.

Employees are trusted with key business information

If you want your employees to feel as if they are trusted partners, sharing financial, strategic and performance information with them will inspire them to use this important information to help their company to achieve its goals.

This level of trust that you place in them shows that you are serious in your desire to be inclusive and that you trust them to use the information in the company’s best interests.

It is, of course, accepted that not all companies will be in a position to be fully inclusive with the information it shares for reasons of commercial security but the more trust an organisation is able to place in its employees the greater the benefits to that company.

HPWS Improve Business Productivity and Efficiency

A happy consequence of the high-performance work system is that it improves productivity and efficiency.

Happy, well trained and motivated staff want to work as hard and productively as possible for the benefit of their company. All of the aspects of a high-performance work system promote increased productivity.

The improved efficiency in systems, procedures and ways of working come from the ability employees have to voice concerns and be a part of improving and overhauling any outdated practices.

Implement High Performance Working Today

Purpose-driven businesses naturally work using high-performance work systems. It’s in their DNA and is a natural by product of a purpose-driven ethos.

They make for happier, more motivated and engaged employees that work more efficiently and productively and by adopting a high-performance work system you will enjoy the increased profitability, a better reputation in the business community and have to spend less time worrying about staff recruitment.

Awardaroo can help your business implement a high performance work system through our business productivity improvement programme.

About Paul Freudenberg

Paul Freudenberg is a business productivity coach and consultant with a focus on operational excellence delivering improved profitability and business performance, and Founder of Awardaroo in 2005. Paul has set the mission of Awardaroo to help raise UK Business Productivity from one of the lowest in the G7 to one of the highest by 2030. Connect on LinkedIn

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