Micro Managed or Empowered Employees?

Nick Pye |


White wave White wave used to provide a visual break between the header and the body of the page.

The original text to accompany the picture suggested that, “it was up to the HR department to contact their employees to say it’s a work at home day.” The point being made, perhaps a little clumsily, was that those employees stuck in horrendous traffic were stressed, needlessly, having to sit in traffic jams when trying to get to and from their normal workplace. 

There was an influx of comments that were posted, claiming that companies should do more to help their employees, of government not doing enough on infrastructure projects, or that we have a collective need to get rid of the 9-5 working day mentality. 

Very few of the contributors worked in HR and they largely commented about the culture within organisations, the need for change and the unnecessary and avoidable pressures being placed on staff.

Now here is the interesting bit. Were the contributors to this post already working for companies that support greater flexible working choices, or promote and engender self-assertion and self-authorisation of employee actions? I don’t think they do. Not one of them spoke about support for their HR team in leading a charge for cultural change or of them supporting self-governance and embedding trust above all things, whilst some made references to companies not investing enough to make home working a possibility or a reality. Instead, there was much criticism of the behaviours of line managers, as it was felt that if managers couldn’t see their team members, then it is assumed that they weren’t working at all! 

It was clear that the majority of contributors to this post felt that there was a general lack of organisational support and they had often had experiences of putting up with self-important managers who had a passion to freely exercise a need for micro-management.

My own comment read, "Foster a culture where colleagues decide for themselves :)"

I speak to HR professionals each and every day when they look for a suitable HR software platform. When we determine what their HR and operational requirements are, I can report that the vast majority are in the mind-set of having greater controls in the workplace and to reduce the burdens on themselves personally, or for their own team, rather than look at the wider organisational community at the same time. Very few engage with us and talk about a requirement to find a supplier that is able to provide software with well-defined processes aimed at empowering employees, and managers, and encouraging collaborative team working. 

Yes, we provide the normal and traditional HR software functionality, as that is what the majority are seeking and it’s what we end up talking about – yawn! 

How refreshing and interesting it is for us to work with both prospective clients and clients alike who warm to some of the additional added-value functional capabilities available within the Youmanage software platform that the majority may simply brush over and push aside, saying they have little or no interest in. It makes you wonder whether they listen to the voices within their workplaces, if the comments on the LinkedIn post are seen as typical. Personally speaking, it's likely that the mindset of the software purchaser and their perceived needs isn't always driven by what their organisations say that they need but a fault of the many middle of the road HR software vendors who code and develop as it's always been done. Do any of the readers of this article know that we have the functional capability to provide full case management, allowing employees to formally request to work flexibly and put their case forward? Or know that we have 'Stay Interviews' as a product development project for next year? And no, not just a screen with a date field and the ability to upload a document, but full case management capability to support the manager in undertaking the process.

Now I'm thinking - I may do myself an enormous favour, and with the aim of boosting our sales pipeline, by contacting some of the contributors on this LinkedIn post to find out what their organisational cultural is really all about.

  • Would they benefit for having software that readily supports self-service access and pre-defined workflow processes to request a more flexible working arrangement, which is in line with ACAS guidelines?
  • Would they welcome having software that can be configured to support the self-authorisation of absence(s) and remove the need for a ‘line manager’ to have to be involved in a low level admin task to authorise leave, especially when the team can self-organise this for themselves?
  • Would they feel empowered if they could add a Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) record for additional hours that they’ve worked, and then be able to request leave absence against the accrued value? 
  • Would they feel empowered if they could update their own objectives, career goals and development needs throughout the year? 
  • Would they find it useful to be able to self-certify their own sickness absence? 

Thankfully, not all clients want the capability for the cancellation of holidays to go through an authorisation process, or want employee requests for annual leave to go through to their line manager, or want employees to clock in and out and account for the time spent at work. But yes, the controls can be put in place for those firms who require it and where the culture dictates that these are the normal and desirable practices. 

Whether you or your colleagues are stuck in traffic and feeling stressed is one thing but when they aren’t able to work because they are in traffic, then that has a knock on effect on other team members and a subsequent negative effect on moral and the profitability of the company. 

We empower and trust each and every one of our colleagues and support them by providing them with the tools to feel as though they are - simple really!

In the meantime, we will continue to service the requirements of all clients but hope to be able to develop and provide even more functional capability within Youmanage that helps more organisations to change, culturally.

Did you find this article useful? Youmanage HR offers software to help you streamline your HR processes and ensure compliance within your company. We also write articles on HR, leadership, employee engagement, health & well-being and much more. Start a free trial of Youmanage, get in touch to ask questions, or check out our blog to help you to deliver HR best practice in your business.

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Nick has more than 25 years of leadership experience, where he has held a variety of executive positions spanning marketing, business development, HR product strategy and has been CEO of Youmanage since 2010. Nick acquired the Youmanage business in 2010 and led the renewed vision and go-to-market definition of the Youmanage platform for its official re-launch in September 2013. With significant and continued product development, he continues to steer Youmanage as an industry leading cloud HR software provider. Work aside, Nick retains his huge enthusiasm for music in both trumpet and bagpipe playing!