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The Results Only Work Environment (R.O.W.E) and Why it's Good for Millennials.

Updated on April 8, 2015

Since the 1920’s, the way that jobs have been worked has changed little. Workers are told to be at a certain place, at a specific time of day, work there a set number of hours, and then go home. Many times this leads to employees not knowing if what they did at work that day made any impact at all and often times feel unfulfilled. Many places try to combat this feeling by having management that encourages workers and congratulates them on work that is done correctly. This is often done by giving verbal encouragement, bonuses, new projects to work on, and potential leadership opportunities. This has been the case ever since. Recently however with millennials entering the work place this may not be enough to satisfy their career needs. With an increasing number of Millennials expecting to enter the work force companies should be looking for new ways to run their offices. A new and innovative way is the Results Only Work Environment (R.O.W.E) and it has already seen success in the office space.

According to a Millennial branding report, 45% of Millennials would choose work hours that are more flexible over higher pay.
According to a Millennial branding report, 45% of Millennials would choose work hours that are more flexible over higher pay. | Source

What is R.O.W.E?

R.O.W.E was originally developed by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson while working for Best Buy. Best Buy was looking for a way to motivate employees while at the same time increasing productivity. In a R.O.W.E operated workplace, employees aren’t measured on the amount of time they spend at the work place but instead on the results they get for the work they do. Workers can come into the office and work whenever they please, sometimes even working at home, instead of a standard 9-5 Monday through Friday schedule. Employees are given assignments by management and told what needs to be done and then take time to make sure the goal is accomplished and do whatever it takes to reach this goal on their own time. Not only does this free up employees to work a schedule that is better for them to manage other aspects of their life, but this also frees employees that aren’t as comfortable being managed as others.

“I’d thought I was a pretty hands-off manager…But then we made the transition, and started letting go and letting people make their own decisions, I realized I was a lot more controlling than I perceived myself to be.”
“I’d thought I was a pretty hands-off manager…But then we made the transition, and started letting go and letting people make their own decisions, I realized I was a lot more controlling than I perceived myself to be.” | Source

Many Employees believe that the work place has changed and needs to be updated to fit the current day and age. “We're using concepts that were developed in the 1950s when you were tethered to a phone or desk or assembly line… and that's simply not the case now. And the workforce also isn’t the same. It used to be the average full-time worker was paired with a full-time homemaker, and now neither men nor women have full-time homemakers supporting them. We need to get up to date by redesigning how we work in terms of the clock.” (Phyllis Moen, Forbes.com article “Don’t Go to Work” page 2).

But does it actually work?

Offices that have started using R.O.W.E as their scheduling method have seen improvements in productivity and lowered turnover rate for employees. “…voluntary turnover rates went down as much as 90% on ROWE teams, while productivity on those teams increased by 41%” (Phyllis Moen, Slate.com article “Don’t Go to Work, page.2). Other benefits of using R.O.W.E according to the same article have included workers getting up to an hour of extra sleep a night from not being stressed about work, increased physical exercise, and improved overall morale.

“When you get to take over your own life and feel responsible for yourself and your work…you feel proud and liberated and dignified. Managers come to us and say, ‘My people grew four feet! I can’t even recognize them.’ Something happens to you when you feel like an adult again at work. It's the control, but it's also the clarity on top of it. I now need to know what my results are supposed to be so I can prove that I’m getting there.” (Jody Thompson, slate.com article “Don’t Go to Work, page.1)

I'm Still not Buying it

With every new idea however, comes skepticism and hurdles to overcome. Best Buy, who was the first company to use R.O.W.E among their office employees, ended the practice when the new C.E.O. Hubert Joly took over.

“This program was based on the premise that the right leadership style is always delegation...It operated on the assumption that if an employee’s objectives were agreed to, the manager should always delegate to the employee how those objectives were met." (Hubert Joly, Businessinsider.com article “Best Buy CEO: Why I Killed the ‘Results Only Work Environment’).

"Well, anyone who has led a team knows that delegation is not always the most effective leadership style. If you delegate to me the job of building a brick wall, you will be disappointed in the result!" - Huber Joly Best Buy C.E.O
"Well, anyone who has led a team knows that delegation is not always the most effective leadership style. If you delegate to me the job of building a brick wall, you will be disappointed in the result!" - Huber Joly Best Buy C.E.O | Source

With falling stock value and talks of possibly closing stores in the future, many businesses don’t like to take risks on new forms of management and operations. Instead, they revert to a “Back to Basics” mentality which implies that going back to what helped growth in the first place will help stabilize a company that is falling short. Before ending R.O.W.E, Best Buy saved around 2.2 Million dollars over the course of three years and although R.O.W.E has been adopted by over 40 companies since then, other companies are still slow to adopt the program due to it still being newer and not as tested as traditional work settings.

Best Buy 5 year stock trend.
Best Buy 5 year stock trend.

Yahoo.com, who also was one of the bigger companies to adopt R.O.W.E, also discontinued the program when their new CEO Marissa Mayer took over. This Idea usually is a good decision to make among many businesses, however the founders of R.O.W.E disagree. “Marissa Mayer didn't start with results first…and then say that people need to come together in the office to drive those results. She said if we throw everybody together, somehow they'll figure out what the results are supposed to be. You are not my mother, Marissa. You don’t know how I communicate and collaborate. What she did in 2013 is (so) 1952 it is laughable. Shame on her.” (Jody Thompson, Slate.com article “Don’t Go to Work” Page.2).

Another Common Obstacle Faced by R.O.W.E is that it doesn't work everywhere. While working well in an office environment where workers typically don’t have face to face time with customers, a retail environment makes it harder to operate. While the basic idea behind R.O.W.E still says that employees must do what needs to be done to get the job done, which means being at a work place at a certain time to be with customers, businesses are still skeptical to take R.O.W.E seriously in a retail work environment.


“Any situation where timing at your place of business is an issue is going to be unfriendly to a true ROWE implementation. What does that include? How about manufacturing when thousands of employees are working in unison to ship a product? How about retail when you need your doors open and appropriate staffing levels for the traffic you will receive at various times during the day? How about a doctor’s office when part of the job is actually being there to see patients?” (Lance Haun, tlnt.com article “5 Good Reasons why ROWE Hasn’t Quite Caught on Yet”).

“When the economy tanked, most companies looked to traditional (and generally proven) ways of shedding costs. This did not include implementing a program with an unproven track record.”
“When the economy tanked, most companies looked to traditional (and generally proven) ways of shedding costs. This did not include implementing a program with an unproven track record.” | Source

Is there any hope for R.O.W.E?

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson are looking to change skepticism of R.O.W.E by running training seminars to companies looking into possibly adopting the program. To become a R.O.W.E certified trainer, a business owner has to do a few things. First, they must have $1695 to apply for an application. Then they must sign up for one of the two day public seminars which take place in either California, Canada, or Utah. After the two day public training seminars, potential trainers must then take an exam and pass to be certified to understanding the R.O.W.E work schedule and receive a twelve month R.O.W.E certified Trainer portal which gives the necessary online materials and tools to help run a R.O.W.E operated work place. If trainers are Human Resource Professionals, the training gives HRCI credits for attending certification workshops, the number of which will be listed on the workshop they take. Certification will need to be updated annually which is sent electronically.With the process being this simple, the idea is that companies will be willing to risk getting educated on R.O.W.E and then using it at their businesses.

“I'm ready to take our Professional Services firm to the next level as a ROWE™ Certified Trainer. I'm convinced every organization that wants to work with a mature team dedicated to results needs to be moving in this direction, and there's no excuse"
“I'm ready to take our Professional Services firm to the next level as a ROWE™ Certified Trainer. I'm convinced every organization that wants to work with a mature team dedicated to results needs to be moving in this direction, and there's no excuse" | Source

Will This be the Change Millennials are Looking for?

While a results only work environment hasn't caught the attention of work places everywhere, it would be a welcomed site for many new employees entering the work place. Millennials bring new experience and skills to the workplace that previous generations did not have and as a result new work places should be prepared to alter their workplace environment to accommodate a workforce that typically doesn't work at the same place longer than three years if they want to keep them there.

“Nearly seven out of ten (68%) hiring managers say millennials have skills prior generations do not, and more than eight out of ten (82%) hiring managers feel that millennials are technologically adept. In addition, 60% of hiring managers agree that millennials are quick learners. The majority (53%) of hiring managers report difficulty finding and retaining millennial talent, more than three times the number who say it is "easy." The study also found that 58% of millennials expect to stay in their jobs fewer than three years. This contrasts with previous generations, with Gen X (born between 1965 - 1981) leaving a company in 5 years on average and Baby Boomers (born between 1945 - 1964) leaving in 7 years on average.” (elance-odesk.com , press release).

Although R.O.W.E may be a hard concept for work offices to initially adopt, it is Definitely a step in the right direction for the work place in the 21st century for companies looking to hire and keep not only new top performing workers, but also improve the efficiency of the work force that they already have in place.

Here more about R.O.W.E in the video below.

Sources


Belkin, Lisa. "Is ROWE The Future Of Work? Or An Unworkable Fantasy?" The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/15/rowe-future-work_n_3084426.html>.

Bhasin, Kim. "BEST BUY CEO: Here's Why I Killed The 'Results Only Work Environment'" Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2015. <http://www.businessinsider.com/best-buy-ceo-rowe-2013-3>.

"Hiring Managers Say Millennials Surpass Prior Generations In Several Key Business Skills, New Study Reveals." Elance-oDesk.com. N.p., 29 Oct. 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2015. <http://www.elance-odesk.com/press/hr-professionals-say-millennials-surpass-prior-generations-in-several-key-business-skills-new-study-reveals>.

"Results-Only Work Environment · ROWE · Created by CultureRx."GoROWE.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Stevenson, Seth. "Would You Do Your Job Better If Your Boss Didn’t Care How You Did It?" Slate.com. N.p., 11 May 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Taylor, Kate. "Why Millennials Are Ending The 9 To 5." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/katetaylor/2013/08/23/why-millennials-are-ending-the-9-to-5/>.

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