The Impact of Performance Reviews on Productivity and Employee Engagement

The topic this week is on performance reviews and how they can both help and hurt employee productivity and engagement.

Last week we wrote about workplace bullying and how that can be a detriment to the workplace environment which in turn decreases worker productivity and engagement. This week our focus is how the performance review can have an impact on those same areas with the same result if not done in a manner that helps employees succeed at their jobs.

Performance reviews are usually met with moans and groans from not only those who receive them but those who do them. In a blog this month on Monster, Monster Thinking, the topic was on performance reviews. It referred to a recent episode on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR which also featured a discussion on performance reviews.

Both the blog and the talk show identified one of the problems with performance reviews is they have a tendency to be negative. They focus on finding faults that occurred in the past year or from the time of the last performance review to the next. This does nothing for the individual to help them be more productive or engaged at the workplace. One of the people on Diane Rehm’s show said they had evidence on how the brain becomes smaller, or probably with less activity, once the news is received.

Other organizations have used peer reviews, or 360 reviews, which do nothing to help improve the environment because it can end up being either a popularity contest or creating an even more hostile work environment which may be the extremes because those doing the reviews may also decide not to put much emphasis on the review in any format. Some organizations, unfortunately, have used them as a documentation tool to justify layoffs. Again, neither of these approaches obviously do nothing for a person’s self-esteem or encourage employee engagement as the whole approach can have an also effect the entire workplace culture and workforce.

What are some suggestions to make the performance review better or alternatives to performance reviews?

Some organizations have simply done away with them. They don’t do them. Other organizations have replaced them with just some conversation on what the employee is doing to succeed at the job and what could be done to make it better. A more formal process could be done through an action plan with regular meetings attached to determine how the action plan is progressing. This provides an opportunity for the employee to know what is expected and if those expectations are being met which is entirely different than catching employees doing something bad.

By changing the focus of the performance review to actually helping employees succeed it can resonate throughout the organization and show employees they are actually valued, support for them is being provided to help them do a good job and it provides employees with the desire to do more and play a bigger role in the organization.

Think about changing your performance review system that will actually enhance your organization and encourage better productivity and employee engagement. Below are some links to help you including for the two mentioned above. They provide some interesting ideas.

Don’t forget to check the CALMC Facebook page and website for additional information.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
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