Technology & Digital Case Study
In recent years, increasing numbers of companies have turned away from the traditional annual performance review. Nearly 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies already have done away with annual performance ratings, according to the Washington Post, and many have abandoned the annual review altogether, including industry leaders like General Electric, Microsoft and Adobe. Detractors point to a lack of follow-up, inefficient use of time and paper and the stress they put on employees. Businesses have an obvious investment in improving performance, but many feel the annual review is not serving its purpose.
North Highland encourages employees to tackle big challenges – challenges like performance reviews. The quarterly review was consuming ever-larger amounts of time, such that HR dedicated two to three days a quarter just to handling paper and manually logging results into a spreadsheet. North Highland decided to start over, stripping back what was becoming an increasingly document-driven and paper-heavy operation, and better align the feedback process with how people work today.
Innovation is a key value at North Highland, and our internal product development Accelerator empowers teams to operate with the creativity and passion of a start-up hub. One of these teams was challenged to create a product that would improve operational efficiency in performance feedback. North Highland’s experts saw that our clients also faced the same difficulties. The need was therefore even bigger: we were searching for something that could transform company cultures and serve as a catalyst for changing attitudes towards continuous feedback and learning.
Our team responded to this challenge with the creation of Culr – an enterprise app available on iOS and Android that offers a simple, intuitive platform for workplace feedback. Its purpose is to support a healthy and dynamic feedback culture that improves workplace performance and increases efficiency.
Culr was designed to be ‘mobile first’ to encourage ongoing, on-the-fly feedback. The system gathers employee feedback on a ‘little and often’ basis, addressing issues right away rather than grouping them in a single stressful session. It has the feel of a consumer app, and push notifications and calendar integration make it fit seamlessly into an employee’s daily digital habits.
Unlike other feedback systems, Culr is highly customizable and encourages users to upload media such as short narratives, images, or videos. Individuals can add their own flair in feedback submissions, and feedback categories can be tailored to an organization’s unique performance management framework. Users also have access to a dashboard to aid distillation, interpretation, and delivery of feedback. It can display summary and in-depth information about individual and team progress. It also aligns with competency models, tracks objectives, and enables users to review feedback from supervisors and peers.
In addition to our initial internal usage, North Highland customized the Culr concept for a global fast-food restaurant. The new release brought features prioritized specifically to match the culture of the organization – customized branding, individual and team profiles, and various levels of feedback submission. Users can view specialized data and feedback selections and have their own unique activity feed through the app’s SSO capabilities, and the app has been integrated neatly into the company’s existing performance management program.
Culr’s benefits include increased efficiency, higher-quality feedback, and improvements to company culture.
North Highland can now capture feedback as and when it happens, which allows management, human resources, and employees access to more context-specific and accurate information. The time savings alone are substantial, and adoption of the system has led to 24 plus days saved for our HR staff annually.
The fast-food restaurant’s early use of the app has led to additional changes. Since the initial launch, participants have taken to providing developmental feedback on a regular basis. Employees at all levels receive actionable information to improve performance, and the routine has opened up the traditional, hierarchical culture that previously defined the company’s review process.
Culr mimics characteristics of a workplace social network by operating as a talent platform to help colleagues connect and grow internally. Its modern and progressive attitude toward personal development is attractive to millennials. Employees benefit from user profiles, competency tracking and contacts that enhance the basic capabilities. Culr is truly embedded in the day-to-day – it’s quick and easy to use across a smartphone, tablet and desktop.
The app has been praised by digital and creative organizations and users; kudos include earning silver in the Best Innovation category at the 2015 UK Digital Experience Awards.