What is High Performance Working?


Is it merely a new and exciting HR buzz term that may diminish eventually? Or perhaps it one thing worth exploring?

High performance working (HPW) is focused on building a culture in which there is trust, transparency, and open communication. It means eroding the conventional hierarchical structure which lots of businesses still operate within. Instead, it means having a flatter structure where employees are engaged, satisfied, motivated and share and understand the values, behaviours, and shared purpose of the organisation.

High performance working is defined as ‘a general approach to managing organisations that aims to stimulate more effective employee involvement and commitment to achieve high levels of performance’.

(Former UK Commission for Employment and Skills)

Are you an F1 fan? Read our article on Toto Wolff and high performance working.

High performance working is simply a series of practices, policies and processes which can be put into place, and when working harmoniously can result in improved performance of employees.

It is widely recognised that high performance working practices drop into these three areas. These are:

  • High employee involvement
  • HR practices
  • Compensation and Reward

HPW practices tend to be most beneficial when used collectively Therefore, organisations have the independence to select the methods which best match their needs, strategies, and objectives.

Study into the effectiveness of High-performance working practices reveal that as much as a 20-40% improvement in productivity is seen in businesses that invest in High-performance working compared to those that do not.

Additional research suggests that the implementation of high performance working practices in a firm positively correlates with the rate of organisational growth, more significant innovation and creativity, higher employee satisfaction, lower employee turnover and increased profitability.

How do organisations get a high performance work culture?

Below are six practices that I recommend to introduce HPW practices into your business:

  1. Empowering employees by giving them autonomy over how they work and plan their day
  2. Ensuring clear frameworks and policies for all people management processes which are transparent and all employees know what expected of them. Managers know how to manage and apply policies to ensure fairness and consistency
  3. Transparent and open communication led from the top. For example, putting out regular communications, using various channels, that detail organisational changes and the insights behind them, so employees feel informed, consulted, and involved.
  4. A Recognition and reward culture that appreciates those hard-working employees
  5. Promoting physical and mental health and wellbeing, such as group workout sessions, puzzle games by printers and my favourite one is to have a “bring your dog to work policy.”
  6. Personalised learning and development- Giving all employees the opportunities to learn new skills and enhance the skills they already have tailored to individual learning styles

Want to learn more about how you can manage employees effectively? Read our article on the talent management cycle.

We are already starting to see businesses move from crisis management mode to a space where they can begin to prepare to return to some sort of normality or new normality. Which of the six recommendations above have you introduced into your business, and what practices would you want to add during this period of significant change?

Whatever that look likes now is a fantastic opportunity to implement and maintain HPW practices within your organisation.

Our core mission as an OD Consultancy is to improve organisations through their people. For more information on how we can help get in touch today