The Conversation is 5 minutes.
A survey of Fortune 1000 companies found that nearly two-thirds of employees were dissatisfied with their performance reviews. A quarter of men and nearly a fifth of women cried as a result of a bad review. The figures were higher for workers younger than them.
In the pre-pandemic times, most professional workers were in the office daily and could be assessed. Nowadays, some employees work from home, others come to the office, and others split their time between the two. More than 75% of U.S. companies are adopting a hybrid model, with more than half of employees wanting to work remotely at least three days a week.
Industrial-organizational psychology is a field that conducts scientific studies to better understand the workplace. There are three challenges that I believe employers and their employees will face.
Creating a connection with your boss is one of the biggest challenges.
Managers will have more opportunities to interact with their employees on a regular basis if they share the same physical space. This gives office-goers a leg up over peers who work from home a lot.
Matt comes to work five days a week. Jake only makes it in on wednesdays. As time goes on, their supervisor will become more familiar with Matt than she is with Jake, as Matt is available to join her for lunch, engage in a quick chat in her office, or say “hi” as they pass in the hall.
The more we know about other people, the more we like them. A manager’s evaluation of you can be influenced by how much they like you.
Making it easier for workers to talk to their bosses when they are working remotely is the best way to make the playing field even. Employers can schedule short but frequent check-ins with remote workers, or provide virtual office hours when managers are available.
Creating always-on chatrooms that all workers can use to communicate with their supervisors is a strategy. To encourage more social interactions, companies can bring back the happy hours that were popular during the Pandemic.
The most accurate performance ratings are obtained when reviews are based on observable behaviors.
While it is possible to define and standardize behaviors and to train raters on how to observe and rate them, they are not inherently subjective.
The trait is called “creativity.” What do you think is creativity? How would you rate it on a scale from below expectations to exceeding expectations?
Think about converting that into a behavior, such as generating practical ideas in novel situations. That could be assessed on a scale of never to frequently.
It is difficult to observe behaviors when employees are telecommuting. One way to address this is for employers to adopt a results-based system in which employees are evaluated based on productivity metrics such as client satisfaction, sales volume, or number of units produced.
Managers don’t have to worry about being unable to observe their direct reports on the job if the focus of performance appraisal is shifted from behaviors to results for all employees. Employees can decide how they will complete their tasks by being held accountable only for the result. All workers are held to the same set of standards.
Tracking technology can be an option that can help rate workers evenly, though it can be controversial and problematic, for example, by creating more stress. The systems track how remote workers are spending their time.
It is vital that these systems are implemented correctly, for example, by being transparent about what is being tracked and what data is being collected. Tracking can be used to more fairly evaluate certain types of employees such as customer service reps or administrative assistants.
There is 3. One review to rule them all.
Performance reviews might not work for every job.
Since student test scores are influenced by environmental factors such as poverty or a lack of family support, evaluating a teacher solely on student test scores may be problematic. Since it is impossible to know whether the plan will succeed before it is implemented, an employee responsible for long-term strategic planning can’t be evaluated immediately.
Only one type of review system can be used for employees. Evaluating employees by different standards might lead to different outcomes for groups that are protected from discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is against the law to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.
Since the evaluation helps determine who gets a raise or promotion and who might be fired, it’s a very sensitive document. Imagine that a group of employees using one type of review gets more promotions than another group of employees using a different system, and that also includes a higher proportion of racial minorities. The organization may face a discrimination lawsuit if it can’t prove that the two evaluations are equivalent.
At the end of the day, an employer should use a type of evaluation that can measure an employee’s performance. If judging results doesn’t work, an organization could try a behavior-based system but revise it so that it doesn’t favor employees working in the office. Competencies reviews, the most popular type, assesses employees on competencies such as attention to detail, timeliness, and quality of work.
Performance reviews are vital to an organization’s success but will always be a drag on many workers. Not everyone can get a raise or promotion, because they are excruciating. The reviews should be fair and not disadvantage anyone, such as those working from home.
An associate professor of psychology at Appalachian State University, Yalcin Acikgoz.