Making work work: How focusing on actual work design drives a positive employee experience and performance

today2022.04.25. 4267 5


Farai Mugabe, Content & Research, The HR Congress


More than ever companies need to focus on developing positive work experiences. Focusing on the actual work itself in terms of work design and how it is done will go a long way in driving a positive employee experience and performance.

Experiences matter all the time in people’s lives. Adults spend at least their lives at work and hence a positive employee experience is important to keep staff happy and engaged. Recent world developments have resulted in an unhappy, burnt-out, and tired workforce. 41% of the entire global workforce is considering handing over their resignation as a result of a number of reasons including work pressures. Given such huge statistics, a great employee experience will result in retaining talent, attracting the right people, and optimizing employee performance.1 

One of the key drivers of a positive employee experience is the work itself. There more one is satisfied with their work, the highly likely they will be engaged and will positively contribute to organizational goals. 

What is performance management?

Performance management is a continuous measurement and assessment of the value of employee value over a period of time. Data from performance management influences hiring, pay, and promotion decisions. Below are some of the key pointers that modern organizations should focus on to adapt to a changing new world of work.2

What is Employee Experience?

Gallup defines employee experience as the journey by which an employee moves through the organization. It is a collection of memories that an employee collects through interaction within the organization throughout their organizational life from entry to exit.  It is important to make such memories count since employees spend more than a third of their working lives at work. 3

What is work?

Work is defined as the act of carrying out duties, responsibilities, and tasks through the mental and physical effort with the objective of producing human services and goods that satisfy human needs. Work is an economic effort that people do to generate wealth for themselves or for other human beings. Work usually relies heavily on paid effort. What we do to get paid. Focusing directly on what people do at work and how they do will definitely go a long way to generating positive employee experience and performance. 4

A number of business leaders often believe that the most critical performance driver is work but studies point out differently. Meaningful work helps to create a sense of purpose which helps someone become more inspired by their work.5 How a job is designed which includes the work has a positive impact on employee performance, motivation, job enrichment, and satisfaction. The more an employee enjoys his or her work, the more likely they will be able to do it with more energy and passion. A properly designed job or work has a sense of purpose and meaning which will unlock the fire inside employees.6  

We look at eight ways by which HR and Talent leaders can generate a positive employee experience and performance by focusing on how work is designed and done. These strategies include collaborative work, work clarity, flexible work policies, aligning employee passions with work, and offering the right work tools. 

  1. Collaborative work

Teamwork and positive work relations contributes more positively towards a great employee experience. When designing work and assigning duties and responsibilities, managers must be able to enable employees to develop great work relationships. Great work relations means that employees are able to work together more cohesively and collaborate together. 

We all love going to work because we have great friends. Research and empirical evidence shows that there is a positive relationship between a positive work relation and employee performance. The more positive the work environment is the more likely an employee is able to produce desirable results. A toxic work environment is a talent repellent because it creates highly stressful work environments. This affects one’s ability to think and act more clearly. This means less discomfort, less depression and less mental distractions.  

  1. Work clarity

The work that employees do should be clear. Employees should know what they want and what is expected of them. By making the job clearer, employees know what is expected of them and they can effectively perform.  Managers should ensure that employees know what their managers expect from them so that they (employees) are able to effectively execute their work. Managers must be able to clearly define the Key Performance Areas for each role so that employees know what is expected of them. 7

  1. Flexible work policies

Flexibility is now critical for companies who have serious intentions in ensuring that they get the best out of their people. Employees now want greater control over how and when they do their work. Employees also want to pursue other life goals outside their working lives. In order to get the best out of people, business leaders need to incorporate the use of a work policies that are flexible to allow employees greater autonomy and discretion in their work. 

  1. Aligning employee passions with work

Employees also have goals outside their work. Some employees see work as a means to realise their life goals. For example some employees have goals to start their own businesses at a later stage in their career. They see work as a means to create a valuable business network, raise capital and gain knowledge on how to run a business. Other employees see work as a means to support their families whilst others might see work as a social environment. Understanding what work means to employees and supporting employee passions will help employers to increase employee experience and generate increased employee performance. 

In the same vein, employers can help to align employees with their passions by placing them in the jobs that they are passionate about. If an employee is revenue-driven and passionate about sales, then it is best for employers to right place the employee into the sales team. The employer should go a long way in offering the right care and support such as work resources and adequate training.  Thus employers who support employees 

  1. Offering the right work tools 

Employers should focus more on enabling human capability and capacitate to do work better as a way to drive positive employee experience and productivity. Tenets of ergonomics indicate that a workplace should be designed to suit the user more comfortable and suit their needs. This will make the employee more effective whilst discharging their work. Employees should have the right computer, a comfortable chair, a good laptop, a reliable internet connection, and the right surroundings so as to drive a positive work experience and performance. 

Conclusively, companies are moving out of the great resignation towards the great escape. In such an environment where employees are leaving the workplace, it is important for companies to focus on developing positive work experiences.8 Focusing on the actual work itself in terms of work design and how it is done will go a long way in driving a positive employee experience and performance. 

1Annual Trend Index Report. Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work, by Microsoft,

2Performance Management as Organisational Control: Breaking free from the Ghost of PM’s Past, by Alan Colquitt

3Employee experience, By Gallup, Gallup

4Sociology of work and industry, by Ashley Crossman, Thoughtco,that%20cater%20to%20human%20needs.

5Motivating employees through job design, fundamentals of leadership, by Press Books

613 Key drivers of employee engagement you should know, by Betterworks, Betterworks

7Performance enablement in the modern workplace, by Betterworks, Betterworks

8Leading @ Work- Reimagining Leadership and Coaching for results, by HR Congress, HR Congress

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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