New ways to approach employee performance reviews

What does the term “performance review” mean to you? To many people, it means sitting down at the end of the year with a manager to discuss work performance over the past 12 months. To others, it could mean a quarterly meeting to report on the status of specific tasks and performance goals. And some may relate to it as a weekly conversation.

“Not all employers approach performance reviews the same way,” says Rob Higginbotham, finance and HR director at JRG Advisors. “Whatever method your company reviews take, it should be formulated from a basis of employee feedback and company culture.”

Smart Business spoke with Higginbotham about trending performance review practices.

How are companies accomplishing ongoing, periodic reviews?

Some employers are replacing the annual performance review with more frequent manager-employee check-ins, which occur monthly or weekly. These check-ins do not need to be lengthy and can be as simple as taking a short walk or coffee break.

For example, instead of waiting until the end of the year to review a year’s worth of projects, managers can give immediate feedback throughout the progress of a project. And when projects are completed, managers can discuss what was done well and areas for improvement. This format makes it easy for employees to ask questions or share ideas.

Frequent dialogue between managers and employees helps to promote continuous growth. And, it gives managers the chance to identify and resolve performance issues in a timely manner. As a result, feedback can seem less confrontational and managers can seem more supportive.

What are wellness checks? How do they affect employees?

Like a performance review, checking in on employee wellness can be critical for their success. Research indicates that people are more stressed than ever. Prolonged stress can lead to serious mental health issues and negatively impact the workplace and employee performance.

Employers can combat stress issues by weaving wellness into performance conversations. Managers who meet with employees more frequently have greater opportunity to talk about stress levels and the importance of personal well-being. In fact, regular conversations about these issues can maximize positive impact for the overall workplace.

How do artificial intelligence (AI) and people analytics play a role?

People analytics is a way of tracking things like employee engagement data, training program effectiveness and productivity. The practice examines human data and crunches the numbers so you have a better idea of the return on investment. Do you need to know if your employees feel appreciated? Do you want managers to have real-time coaching feedback? These are just two examples of how people analytics can make a difference.

Notably, these analytical tools are used to improve performance. If you have the data, you can find a system to be most effective. And with more advanced AI being created, systems will gauge an employee’s productivity based on whatever criteria you like — eliminating the guesswork.

Why is identifying strengths for upskilling important?

If you have a new task that requires new skills, should you hire a new employee for the job? The current trend says no, and to instead upskill current workers.

This process trains current employees in new skills and responsibilities that better suit their talents. If an employee is performing poorly in one area, that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will not perform well in other areas.

Performance reviews offer a great opportunity for evaluating and identifying the skill sets of your employees. Since you’re discussing workplace performance anyway, floating the upskilling opportunities is a way to retain employees who are already familiar with your organization.

Like most trends, employee reviews will continue to develop. This means it is time to prioritize your approach.

Insights Employee Benefits is brought to you by JRG Advisors