How to carry out employee performance reviews during a difficult time

Employee performance reviews and appraisals are an essential part of running your business. These reviews give you a chance to communicate your expectations to your employees, address any poor performance and highlight how you’re looking for your employees to develop in the future.

However, with working conditions changing drastically over the last 12 months, as an employer, you may need to consider a new way to approach employee performance reviews this year.

Be mindful of the setting

Often, employee appraisal meetings take place in person and out of the way of distractions – however these may now need to take place remotely through a video call. You should be flexible with the timings to ensure that the employee can focus on the call without being distracted or rushed e.g. by childcare commitments or home deliveries.

Difficult times lead to stress

Stress often negatively impacts employee performance – and nobody can deny that this year has been stressful. Even if the employee hasn’t struggled with the possibility of redundancy or furlough, a worldwide pandemic is enough to put anyone on edge. Even those who have felt secure in their roles have found it stressful balancing childcare with working from home.

While performance may seem poorer than previous years, take the extra stress into consideration before starting a conversation about performance.

During the performance review, discuss with your employee what the business can do to help reduce their stress levels and get the best performance possible. This could include things like flexible working hours or employee benefit programmes.

Future planning

On top of reflecting on the previous year, employee performance reviews are most beneficial when used to plan for the future: what do you want the employee to achieve; how do you want them to develop.

While some managers pull employee objectives straight from the business KPIs – we’d advise against this now more than ever.

If an employee’s main objective is to hit a sales target, the uncertainty about the market (of which they have no control) in the next 12 months can lead to more stress and poor performance.

Instead, we’d advise you to set targets focused on employee development. Outline how you would like them to evolve in their role, if there are any additional skills you would like them to learn or additional responsibilities you would like them to take on.

If you need any further advice or support with organising and administrating employee performance reviews, get in touch with Bradley HR.