Performance evaluations can be stressful for employers and employees alike — increasing the workload of busy managers and leaving employees feeling anxious about the feedback that they will receive. Given this apprehension around evaluations, it’s no surprise that companies are reconsidering the need for these traditional reviews. In recent years, some organizations have eliminated formal rankings and appraisals altogether. Despite mixed opinions about performance appraisals, one thing is certain: employees want to know where they stand. In fact, 65% of employees report wanting more feedback about their job performance.
Based on this reporting, it’s time to rethink how and when to share feedback with employees. Pairing annual performance evaluations with regular employee touchpoints — intentional interactions between managers and employees — can help ensure that team members receive the timely feedback they desire to stay engaged and productive.
When implemented effectively, performance appraisals help cultivate a company culture that prioritizes people and performance. Intentional two-way communication between managers and employees builds trust, boosts employee morale and ensures workers feel valued. These interactions are essential because differences in management style account for at least 70% of variance in levels of employee engagement.
Performance evaluations are an opportunity to share meaningful and constructive feedback. While it’s necessary to address concerns or areas for improvement, it’s equally important to tell employees what they’re doing well. Team members who don’t feel that they are recognized for their contributions are twice as likely to quit.
The widespread shift to remote work has made communication more important than ever. It’s easy for remote employees to feel isolated or unsure about how their performance compares to their peers. In fact, research shows that remote workers receive less constructive feedback and praise for their efforts than their in-office colleagues. Managers can use performance appraisals to overcome the lack of face-to-face interaction that comes with remote work settings.
While performance evaluations are often completed on an annual basis, the frequency of these reviews impacts their effectiveness. Providing feedback to team members only once per year may unintentionally create a disconnect between employers and employees. Lengthy feedback gaps can increase the likelihood that minor issues or bad habits become major problems that are more costly to fix.
Establishing frequent touchpoints can make it easier to quickly identify and address performance-related concerns. Regular check-ins also help managers set more realistic goals for employees, better manage their progress and provide key resources and support when necessary. Setting incremental milestones can also better position workers to meet year-end goals — a mutually beneficial strategy for both the employee and the employer.
Continuous feedback helps improve employee engagement and reduces attrition. In addition to performance-focused conversations, regular touchpoints empower team members to discuss their career goals. Encouraging employees to think about their professional goals can motivate them to identify their own knowledge gaps and proactively seek out learning opportunities. It also shows them that they are valued within the company and that their manager cares about their opportunities for growth and advancement.
Regular employee touchpoints aren’t just helpful for employees — they offer important benefits for managers as well. Receiving frequent feedback from team members makes it easier for managers to understand workers’ needs and offer the right support to keep them engaged and satisfied. Managers also gain key insights into employee performance and potential for attrition, which can help employers identify patterns and focus on their retention efforts.
When it comes to performance evaluations, consistency is key. To foster employee trust and maximize the benefits of these reviews, managers must ensure that the process is fair, transparent and frequent.
Keep employee reviews fact-based by evaluating team members using the same scale. This approach helps eliminate opinions, judgments or biases that may unfairly impact the review. Notably, 85% of workers say they would consider resigning from their job after an unfair performance appraisal.
Create transparency by telling employees how they’ll be evaluated. Share this information with new employees during the onboarding process so they are aware of expectations from day one of their employee journey. Not knowing performance standards can leave new and tenured employees feeling discouraged and disengaged from the company.
The frequency and duration of employee touchpoints should vary based on the individual. Consider each employee’s length of service and unique needs when establishing a schedule. For example, a new hire may benefit from longer weekly or monthly check-ins that allow time for them to better understand their role and ask for support. Over time, these meetings may become shorter and less frequent, occurring only a few times per year. While longer-tenured employees may already have a clear understanding of processes, expectations and workflows, it’s still crucial to make them a priority. Remember, even a 15-minute conversation can help keep employees informed about their performance and boost morale.
Despite their importance, employee touchpoints and performance evaluations can be challenging for employers. After all, preparing for and conducting these reviews are time-consuming — especially if a manager works in a high-volume environment such as a call center.
Instead of forgoing these beneficial touchpoints, employers can lean on an expert to support talent experience, including management of the full review process. A contractor care representative (CCR) program connects businesses with trained professionals who have the knowledge, experience and bandwidth to conduct quality performance reviews and maintain frequent touchpoints with employees. As liaisons between employers and employees, contractor care representatives can strengthen workplace communication — enhancing engagement and retention efforts.
A trusted partner like Aston Carter will establish a tailored feedback strategy based on the client’s unique workforce needs. Employees receive the constructive and frequent feedback they want — without placing added stress on the employer. Corporate leaders also gain a clearer understanding of team performance and the effectiveness of company policies and procedures. This feedback is a proven way to guide managers on when and where to make adjustments that engage team members, improve customer experience and support short- and long-term business goals.
Contact Aston Carter today to explore our workforce solutions.
Matthew Okrzesik is the Aston Carter senior manager of contractor care. His specialized expertise enables him to implement employee retention and engagement strategies. He’s held several different roles in over 10 years of tenure with the organization — from the local to national level, all focused on enhancing talent experience.