An HR Alternative to the Feared Annual Employee Review

The annual employee review can be a source of stress for both manager and employee. Discover alternatives to yearly reviews in this post.

Published on 19 May, 2017 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
Here are 3 Alternatives to the Annual Employee Review 1

Few things in a workplace elicit uniform dread from both management and employees like the annual employee review. Conceptually, it has its usefulness — allowing both parties to assess the past, discuss the present, and define the future. Yet, the process has evolved into a cumbersome, stiff, and laborious exercise in pleasantries, small talk, and corporate-speak that rarely accomplishes its goals.

Of course, given its lofty, idealistic aspirations, finding a suitable replacement for the annual review would provide an employer the needed ability to gauge individual job performance and realign goals while sparing the worker a tedious, often stressful experience.

The Data Doesn’t Lie

In a recent survey, only 26 percent of managers and workers thought that employee reviews (at least in their traditional models) are effective at accomplishing their goals. Furthermore, 50 percent of polled companies say they plan on completely eliminating the review process in the near future in favor of a variety of alternatives.

Still, as evidenced by the same survey, only 8 percent of companies have scrapped annual reviews without a viable replacement.

Obviously, given these overwhelming statistics, it is clear that companies and workers alike don’t think annual reviews work but also believe something comparable is needed. After all, companies will always need a means of measuring worker productivity as well as a channel of communicating its message to the workforce.

1. Shorten the Timeframe, Grow the Results

One of the biggest drawbacks to the annual review is the amount of time it encompasses. Since it only occurs once per year, it can be a stressful, overwhelming experience for the employee as well as a massive expenditure of time and effort for management.

To eliminate most of these drawbacks, having frequent meetings that are much smaller in scope rather than annual or even quarterly reviews can be much more manageable for everyone involved.

2. The Weekly 1 x 1

For instance, a short and succinct weekly meeting with each employee covering one or two specific subjects would avoid most of the pitfalls now associated with annual reviews. Instead of the comprehensive, all-encompassing and sweat-inducing monoliths that a typical review procedure has now become, 5 to 10 minute sessions between a manager and employee. One on ones will still allow the company to monitor and document job performance but without nearly as much a burden.

3. Find Solutions That Fit Your Organization

Since no two organizations are alike, the most important thing is to find a solution that suits your company well. More often than not, the size, scope, and disposition of your workforce will determine the best path to follow. Whether that’s retaining the traditional annual review, switching to a weekly format or trying something entirely different, your review procedures should have a positive impact on company productivity rather than be a feared and loathed time drain.

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