Will the ROWE Revolution Reach Yahoo? Results-Only Work Environments, Productivity, and Employee Engagement

Cali Ressler-Jody Thompson

Cali Ressler-Jody Thompson

Why Work SucksJody Thompson and Cali Ressler proposed compensating employees based on outputs, rather than elapsed time, in a “Results-Only Work Environments (ROWE)” policy.

This management strategy evaluated “performance, not presence” practices at Best Buy and has been implemented at another large retailer, Gap.
Is this is a return to a “piece-work” approach of decades ago?
Or is it a performance management practice that emphasizes achieving targeted results?

Why Managing SucksROWE  is being considered at such tech giants as Cisco Systems, in direct contrast to Yahoo’s recent call for employees to be present in offices.
The underlying goal of Yahoo’s “presentism” policy may be to increase innovative performance outputs, although the explanation provided to employees emphasized presence as a prerequisite for effective collaboration.

Widespread negative reaction to Yahoo’s on-site work policy, based on complaints that the policy:

  • Conveys lack of trust in employees
  • Undermines opportunities to manage complex work-life responsibilities
  • Places emphasis on “face time” rather than results
  • Leads to employee resentment and disengagement.
Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly

In contrast, University of Minnesota sociologists Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen with University of Delaware’s Eric Tranby documented the positive impact of ROWE practices in their survey of more than 600 Best Buy employees before and after the program was implemented.

Phyllis Moen

Phyllis Moen

The researchers found turnover was reduced by 45 percent after they controlled for gender, job level, organizational tenure, job satisfaction, income adequacy, job security and turnover intentions.

Participants reported reduced stress and improved work-home interfaces by increasing employees’ schedule control, and reduced the “opting out” of the workforce due to personal commitments for both men and women.

Eric Tranby

Eric Tranby

Kelly, Moen, and Tranby opine that ROWE “moves us away from the “time cages” developed around the work day…ROWE challenges these taken-for-granted clockworks…our mantra is ‘change the workplace, not the worker’.

Rachelle Hill, also of University of Minnesota collaborated with Moen and Kelly in a related study that documented ROWE moderated turnover effects of negative home-to-work spillover, personal troubles, and physical symptoms.

-*What impacts – positive and negative – have you seen in “Performance, not Presence” workplace policies like ROWE?

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4 thoughts on “Will the ROWE Revolution Reach Yahoo? Results-Only Work Environments, Productivity, and Employee Engagement

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