Leadership and career

6 Surprising Findings About Employees’ Feelings Toward Performance Reviews

By July 20, 2016 No Comments

You often hear people say that the annual performance review process is one of the most awful, detestable parts of work.

Two common complaints are that reviews are a waste of time and that they are too stressful. Managers hate spending all the time compiling the reviews. For example, last year Deloitte calculated that its managers spent a combined 2 million hours each year just putting together performance reviews.

Employees hate being judged strictly objectively during a review, particularly if their manager is only focusing on their most recent accomplishment (or failure) rather than on a big project they completed eight months ago.

But when you think about those complaints, you realize that they are a little imprecise. After all, there are certainly people out there who enjoy performance reviews and there are certainly companies whose review methods are innovative and enriching.

A new poll from TINYpulse, a startup specializing in employee engagement issues, sought to find out exactly who hates performance reviews the most. Their findings are surprising, revealing that older workers are more likely to go along with the traditional review process while the youngest workers fear and loathe them the most. The poll is a must-read for any manager with a gaggle of young millennial employees.

TINYpulse polled more than 1,000 professionals in late February, and here are six surprising facts they found about employees’ feelings toward performance reviews:

1. Many feel reviews are outdated

Thirty-seven percent of poll respondents agreed that reviews are outdated, referring to processes that involve spreadsheets or even handwritten notes. In 2015, millennials became the largest demographic group in the workforce. This is a generation raised with iPhones and Twitter. So it’s no wonder that they might balk at filling out a review on paper. Millennials are probably wondering, “Is there an app for that?”

2. Millennials fear reviews

Of the three major generations that TINYpulse polled — baby boomers, Gen X and millennials — millennials were most fearful of reviews. A little more than 24 percent of millennials said that they feared the review process, compared to 16 percent of Gen X and 14 percent of baby boomers. Millennials also rated their stress about reviews more highly than the other two generations.

3. Women fear reviews more

TINYpulse also found that women fear performance reviews more than do men. Twenty-one percent of women said they are afraid of the review process, while just 14 percent of men were afraid of a review. But women were braver in one area – 40 percent said they want their direct manager to conduct their review, while only 29 percent of men did. (However, 19 percent of men wanted executive-level leaders involved present during the review, compared to 13 percent of women.)

4. Annual reviews still popular

A majority of respondents — just under 50 percent — said that they prefer a review once a year. Quarterly reviews were a second preference at 23 percent. But this trend isn’t firm. Last year the consulting giant Accenture (with 330,000 employees) announced it would do away with annual performance reviews in favor of a system where employees receive feedback on a more flexible basis.

5. Millennials want reviews more often

Hopefully you’re not sick of hearing about millennials – especially because their influence over reviews really will be huge. Only 38 percent of millennials prefer an annual review, compared to 44 percent of Gen X and an astounding 58 percent of baby boomers. Millennials are more diverse in their preferences, with 28 percent preferring a quarterly review and 22 percent desiring a biannual review. And nine percent were willing to undergo a monthly review, compared to just four percent of baby boomers.

6. Compensation lacking

Last, but not least, is the issue of compensation. A stunning 41 percent of respondents said that their performance review did not result in a pay increase. Not surprisingly, 64 percent said that they wanted their performance review tied to compensation.

The takeaway from the TINYpulse poll seems to be that reviews are probably here to stay, but they will go through some drastic changes under the influence of millennials. There are already mobile apps emerging to organize the review process by allowing managers and employees to rate performance whenever they feel like it. So if you’re used to a once-a-year review in a document or spreadsheet, get ready for some changes.


Dana_ManciagliDana Manciagli is a career expert, speaker and consultant. She has spent more than 30 years as a Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive and is now retired after more than a decade at Microsoft. Dana is the author of the book, “Cut the Crap, Get a Job!” and a prolific blogger. She sits on the worldwide board of Junior Achievement and has her MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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