A couple weeks ago, Heather discussed the idea of weisure and how employers need to adapt to the blurring lines between work and leisure. A big part of the discussion that this post didn’t really touch on is the debate around the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE).
The ROWE is a management strategy espoused by companies like Best Buy where employees are paid for results – and have complete control over their schedules. The idea is that employees do what they want, when they want. The company isn’t concerned with when or where the work gets done, as long as it gets done. Think of it as extreme weisure where all that matters is results.
Many bloggers and traditional media have weighed in on the idea of the ROWE, with lots of great points being made about how it would or wouldn’t work. Just a few that you can check out are Renegade HR, The Happy Employee, Free Pursuits and Your HR Guy.
While Best Buy has been able to drive some solid business results and improve retention with their ROWE, the real question is if a ROWE can actually be made to work in the average workplace, and how would this fit into talent management. Is this pay for performance on steroids? And if that’s the case, can anyone but a disciplined high performer thrive in this environment? It’s hard to really say but I’m pretty sure most organizations cannot perform this type of experiment to find out if a ROWE will work for them, especially in the current economy.
Jon Ingham from Strategic HCM makes a great point in one of his previous posts on the ROWE:
And at least as importantly, I disagree with the pure focus on results, because I think that managing behaviours/competencies are also vitally important.
He goes on to point out that if organizations don’t manage behavior, they can get into hot water, as has been seen with the blowout in the financial industry.
A related post from Jason Pankow from Fistful of Talent looks at the difficulty of managing a high performer within a work environment that has non-traditional expectations. As Pankow explains:
Still… even with our work-life balance and telecommuting capabilities, we’re still expected to be team players. We’re still expected to be with our teams when it’s important. Results are often driven by these team efforts.
So, while a ROWE sounds cool, it has the potential to strip out so many of the things that drive actual business results like specific behaviors and team work. Maybe HR needs to take into account the changing lines of work and leisure as Heather suggests, but I’m not convinced that we need to take it as far as the ROWE.