Since the outbreak of Covid-19, it has become challenging to operate business as usual. Amidst all the uncertainty, many companies are trying to redesign their employee evaluation criteria to suit the current working structure. Here are some of the things that you should consider before deciding how to do performance evaluation in the light of the new normal.
Why Does Performance Evaluation Matter?
Performance evaluation aims to encourage the employees to be more productive and point out the areas where they need to work. It helps create a shared understanding of what the company expects from an employee and set future goals. Companies often use these evaluations to distinguish between their low- and high-performing employees and determine which employees deserve compensations, salary increases, promotions, and better opportunities. This can also help motivate the employees to be more efficient and perform better.
While some people have called for suspending evaluations during the times of crisis, I believe otherwise. I argue that these evaluations are more relevant and vital during these difficult times to keep the employees motivated despite the difficult circumstances.
With that being said, companies should, however set realistic goals and expectations and make sure that their performance review process is fairly established according to the current situation. Moreover, the business should use their evaluation data to figure out where their employees should be provided with some important learning and development
opportunities to adapt to the changing circumstances.
Are You Giving Performance-Related Bonuses?
Many companies pay their employees different bonuses to further incentivize high performance. In the current circumstances, you may decide whether you want to support your employees by giving them a bonus, or to save money. Giving everyone the same bonus can negatively impact employee motivation and performance, while abolishing bonuses may upset them. Research also shows that cutting down dividends during the 2008 recession had adverse effects on both effectiveness and employee commitment during the crisis. The middle way out is to revisit your evaluation policies and continue with at least some bonuses or other performance-based incentives to keep the employees motivated.
How to Continue with The Performance Evaluations?
Having talked about the importance of performance evaluations during the times of crisis, let us move on to discuss some of the things that you need to keep in mind while evaluating performance of your employees.
Despite the changing circumstances, you should try to maintain normalcy as much as you can. Try to stick to your typical structure or schedule of work and encourage your employees to show more consistency even if they work from their homes. Even when you evaluate your employees virtually, you can still maintain the same structure except for a few changes that you can make. Evaluate their performance in terms of consistency and encourage them to not deviate from the established principles and norms of your company’s work structure.
Communicating Expectations to Your Employees
Communication during such times matters more than anything else. You should have regular individual and town hall meetings with your employees to keep them updated and motivated. Since work-from-home has also resulted in shifts in roles and responsibilities, you should let your employees know about your expectations from them before you judge their performance. Provide them with the opportunity to grow and adapt to the changing circumstances and new responsibilities and take their feedback as well.
Adjustments For COVID-19
As mentioned earlier, your employee performance evaluation should be adjusted according to the current situation. While there might be things that you cannot expect during such times, there will also be things that may matter more during these times than ever before. Even if you stick to your typical considerations in general, you will have to make some amends. When the employees are working from their homes, there are certain things that you can’t judge them over whatsoever. Moreover, if they have been assigned a new role, you may have to wait for some time to determine how they are performing. You may also consider adding a mental or physical “score card” for your workers’ different traits. You should also try to pay attention to their mental and physical well-being during such difficult times.
Honesty and Accountability.
One of the things that you can never compromise over at any cost is an employee’s honesty with work. Regardless of whether an employee is working from home or working at the office, they should always be sincere and honest. This might be not easy to judge, but you can consider adding some measures for their honesty. Moreover, you can let the evaluation be partially employee-led to find out employees’ opinions about their co-workers.
Instead of continually trying to force them to work, try encouraging your employees to be their judge. Ask them to frequently evaluate their performance and rate themselves instead of you doing it. This will make your employees feel engaged and empowered in their work and encourage them to do better every day.
Multiple Evaluation Checks
It is not easy to evaluate performance and lead alone, especially in the difficult economic circumstances that we are facing today. You may consider dividing your workforce in such a way that there are multiple evaluation checks. Ask the senior and most trustworthy workers to keep an eye on the new employees and update them about their performance. This will make things easier for you and promote better understanding between the employees.
Flexibility and Adaptability.
Since the current circumstances require the workers to be flexible in accepting new responsibilities, you should evaluate their performance in terms of adaptability and flexibility. Give them extra bonuses for performing well at the new tasks you assign them and let them know the areas they need to work on. You should also be considerate with the deadlines and give your employees the time and resources they need to adjust to any new responsibilities that you assign.
Try conducting the Performance evaluation sessions with some individuals over a zoom meeting or skype. Instead of just sending feedback to your employees regarding their performance, you should engage with them and talk to them about everything you want to improve. If you have a large workforce, you may have to rely on your work managers to interact with them at a more personal level. The purpose of this is to make your employees own the
business and understand your concerns as positive criticism that will help them, as well as the company grow.
I have highlighted some of the essential things you must consider before making changes to your performance evaluation strategy. These are general guidelines that will depend on various factors such as the nature of your business etc. The bottom line is that modified versions of the performance evaluation strategy should help you better communicate with your employees. It should allow you to understand your employees better and work with them for a shared goal and purpose.
About the Author:
Dr. Sharon Fried Buchalter is a Clinical Psychologist and Founder/CEO of the consumer products company Products on The Go LLC. Throughout her career, Dr. Sharon has developed and implemented a wide range of workshops ranging from family leadership, new parent survival skills, to life skills training for teens and college students. As well as, management training profiles of successful people, stress management, mindfulness and solutions for a healthy centered life.