War for talent | Could reintroducing staff performance reviews aid retention?

Could reintroducing staff performance reviews aid retention?

Remember those pre-pandemic days of employer and employee sitting across the desk from one another for their personal development review or appraisal?

While performance reviews have often been seen as a tick box exercise by some, now is the time to put appraisals firmly back on the agenda and step up efforts to recruit and retain staff.

The call comes from Peterborough-based Anne Corder Recruitment in light of recent figures which suggest that nearly half (47%) of UK employees don’t see a clear path to progression.

A survey by IRIS Software Group also revealed that nearly three-quarters of UK workers (68%) said that they are facing delayed career growth due to a lack of support.

In recognising the current shortage in skilled candidates, offering a commitment to track performance and identify any training and development of new hires through regular appraisals can set the business apart from the competition.

Anne Corder Recruitment Managing Director, Nel Woolcott, said: “As working from home and virtual communication are very much here to stay some employees may feel that they have been cut adrift by their employers – with reduced time in the office and less opportunity for face-to-face discussions.

“Leaving staff to their own devices will undoubtedly put pressure on individuals who may not know, or be told, whether or not they are doing a good job. They may be unaware of an issue or feel unsupported in their efforts to progress within their role.”

Woolcott added: “This is where we would suggest that the ‘traditional’ performance review should be re-imagined, taking into account the current working climate.

“We know from speaking to many employers and employees that time consuming performance reviews can be stressful for both sides. We would urge employers to revisit their reviews and suggest placing less emphasis on the word ‘performance’.

“Any reviews going forward should no longer simply be a tick box exercise; based around hitting goals, winning new business and behaviour within the office setting.

“Goals and targets, and most certainly office life, have changed over the past couple of years. Looking at the bigger picture and talking to staff about how they actually feel and believe they are performing should start the conversation.”

Employers could consider:

  • The purpose of the review and how the process has had to change post-pandemic. Maybe an annual review is replaced with quarterly shorts.

  • Re-imagining the assessment. Goals may have changed, focuses may be different and the emphasis may now be on the wellbeing, learning, adaptability and growth of the employee.

  • Not just ticking boxes. Things may have changed dramatically in an employee’s professional and personal life without you realising. Requesting self-evaluations may be a good idea.

  • The importance of having performance review conversations face-to-face.

  • The added value an appraisal can have to your business – addressing and working with the employee to iron out any concerns and reassuring them of additional support could be the make or break to them leaving or staying.

  • Showing compassion; recognise and acknowledge the extremely different circumstances employees work under now – just ask them how they are doing.

Performance reviews as a culling tool

However, while the above research shines a light on the positive impact of employee appraisals, recent reports have suggested that some major firms have reintroduced performance reviews as a way of cutting down on workers, amid growing economic uncertainty.

Meta, formerly Facebook, is said to be “turning up the heat” on underperforming employees as the firm prepares for a “deep economic downturn.”

As reported by the Reuters news agency, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told staff in a weekly Q&A that, in addition to reducing hiring, the company was leaving certain positions unfilled in response to attrition and "turning up the heat" on performance management to weed out staffers unable to meet more aggressive goals.

"Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn't be here," Zuckerberg said.

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"Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn't for you, and that self-selection is OK with me," he said.

Goldman Sachs has also ‘slowed down’ its recruitment plans and reintroduced annual performance reviews in a bid to weed out underperforming workers.

As reported by Bloomberg, the Wall Street behemoth’s CFO, Denis Coleman, told analysts during a recent conference call: “Given the challenging operating environment, we are closely re-examining all of our forward spending and investment plans to ensure the best use of our resources.”

Coleman added: “We’re taking a number of actions to improve our operating efficiency. Specifically, we have made the decision to slow hiring velocity and reduce certain professional fees going forward.”

From our magazine

In addition, the firm reportedly plans to bring back annual performance reviews for staff, which had been dropped during the pandemic. Prior to their abandonment, these reviews were typically used to identify and weed out Goldman Sachs’ worst-performers.

The moves, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon explained, were part of a plan to more carefully manage the company’s resources, as rising inflation and tumbling profits continue to hinder the company. Indeed, the firm’s second quarter profits plunged from £4.3billion ($5.3billion) in the same period last year, to £1.9billion ($2.8billion) – a drop of 48%.

“I expect there’s going to be more volatility and there’s going to be more uncertainty and in light of the current environment we will manage all our resources cautiously,” he said.

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