How the Commonwealth of Kentucky Plans to Improve Employee Experience and Performance
January 8, 2021
The Commonwealth of Kentucky entered 2020 with a fresh outlook on its talent strategy: create a better people experience for its public sector workforce while improving employee performance. This strategy would be supported by a newly implemented performance management platform and a holistic plan to transition paper processes to digital environments for over 18,000 executive branch employees.
Then COVID hit; sending a large portion of Kentucky’s public sector workforce home.
While the number of employees moving to remote work varied between agencies, the demand for digital resources and tools was immediate. In fact, according to Kentucky Personnel Cabinet IT Director Robbie Perkins, 50-70% of all Kentucky state employees accessed online training and learning programs within weeks of the shift home. At the Personnel Cabinet, Kentucky’s centralized government workforce management agency, Perkins said most of the organization’s close to 170 employees work remotely or only come into the office when absolutely necessary these days.
Fortunately, Perkins and team had already kicked off implementing Cornerstone Performance—which Kentucky branded , a centralized performance management system within the Commonwealth’s MyPURPOSE unified talent management system that enables talent leaders to document and monitor skills, performance and areas for improvement at an individual-level, when COVID sent folks home in March of 2020.
Bringing Everyone Under One Digital Employee Experience Roof
Speaking during a recent Cornerstone webinar aimed at diving into Kentucky’s MyPERFORMANCE procurement, rollout and implementation journey, Perkins pointed to several issues that prompted the commonwealth’s move to digital performance management. Among them: disparate and incompatible digital solutions, paper-based performance management processes and systems, no digital onboarding materials, lack of mobile and digital employee resources and a large compliance operation that consumed IT team bandwidth.
Eventually, Kentucky issued an RFP outlining the need for a versatile solution that was 1) affordable and 2) deployable across agencies—enter MyPERFORMANCE. And Kentucky’s workforce appreciated the effort right off the bat.
According to Perkins, "Seldom from a change management standpoint, or when implementing systems, do you get a lot of accolades or claps or ovations. But we actually had people clapping when they heard that we were going to give them an electronic solution for performance management."
Taking a Focus Group Approach to Getting People Onboard
Alaina Myers, Deputy Commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Human Resources Administration, said that one major reason for the success of Kentucky's implementation of MyPERFORMANCE was its Performance Management Agency Focus Group and a survey of its members. The goal of both efforts? To understand how managers planned to use the solution for talent strategy and gain a sense of what employees wanted from a digital performance review experience to complement legacy training and HR programs.
Myers said Kentucky’s PM Focus Group gathered HR and agency leaders across the Commonwealth to understand what worked and didn’t work with legacy processes and procedures that relied heavily on paper. The group also surveyed stakeholders—including employees—to understand what features or improvements they would like to see with a new digital system.
Kentucky’s next phase ahead of MyPERFORMANCE’s go-live was to orient HR and agency leaders around change management and training. Specifically, Myers said that members of the Personnel Cabinet spent the early part of the year traveling to every Kentucky government agency for in-person information sessions and MyPERFORMANCE demos before COVID-related lockdowns and remote work rendered it impossible.
To complement the on-the-ground digital solution education initiatives, Kentucky launched an online orientation program for every government employee, introduced digital training programs for both managers and employees, produced manuals and issued
Using Tech to Help Kentucky Shift to Ongoing Performance Convos
By preparing accordingly to embrace the new talent strategy and platform, Myers says Kentucky was able to see ROI quickly. She and Perkins identified four key areas where the team has seen an improvement thanks to their ability to use technology to support performance conversations:
- Talent managers can capture team bandwidth, skill sets and performance metrics in one platform.
- Agency and HR leaders can monitor specific tasks, keep tabs on workloads and deliver real-time feedback that helps employees better understand how their individual performances contribute to their career growth and agency success.
- Relationships between managers and employees were improved during the pandemic thanks to the ability to facilitate clear, ongoing communication
- Continuing to foster a culture of continuous learning and development
Keeping Kentucky Connected in 2021 and Beyond
For 2021, Myers and Perkins noted that Kentucky’s next phase of digitizing its talent strategy will involve deepening government-wide MyPERFORMANCE adoption and implementation with a focus on employee performance management and enabling employees to take an active role in their development through online learning.