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Workforce Management during COVID-19: Are Performance Reviews Necessary?

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in workforce management includes performance evaluations, and the question being asked is, should you have them?

In their recent #NextChat discussion, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) posed the question of whether companies should suspend performance reviews during the coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted business routines and created challenges for employees, like forcing employees to adapt to teleworking as an example.

The respondents, most of them HR professionals, said yes, and qualifying that the focus should shift toward the qualitative rather than quantitative. They also point out that carrying on with performance reviews during these crazy times can be reassuring and a good way to hang on to a sense of normalcy.

The HR practitioners who are not very keen on the idea point out that people—both those who are to be evaluated and those who will be evaluating them—are most likely too distracted by the changes in their working arrangements and their personal coronavirus contingencies.

If your organization is still deliberating about this performance cycle’s review, these 3 simple questions should help you arrive at your best decision:

  • Is your performance review process fairly established (e.g., have you conducted at least two cycles)?
  • Is a large part of your employee population still working?
  • Do you tie bonus payments to performance reviews?

Your answer to these three simple questions can help you determine whether to continue your performance reviews or suspend them for the time being.

Canceling performance reviews

On one hand, the cancelation can seem beneficial to employees, if you take into consideration the following:

  1. Performance evaluations can be time consuming, labor intensive (especially for department managers and HR leaders), and distracting.
  2. Performance evaluations are commonly tied to the perception of performance management being unfair to begin with.

On the other hand, canceling evaluations could result in the following:

  • Loss of critical business performance data at a time when leaders are expected to make tough decisions on allocating resources
  • Failure to address poor performance by helping underperforming employees get the mentoring and additional training they need.
  • Loss of continuity and communication facilitated by regular feedback.

Reviewing and simplifying the evaluation process

The pandemic has no doubt had negative effects on employee productivity as employees adjust to the work-from-home setup while juggling caregiving and other personal responsibilities.

This situation can make performance reviews rather burdensome, and if they feel that way for your organization, maybe some adjustments can be made to lighten things up.

HR leaders might want to nudge managers and employees to consider lightening an employee’s workload by reassigning low-priority projects or putting them on the back burner.

Reconsidering the evaluation process can also involve resetting expectations in terms of task prioritization, work hours, and availability and responsiveness at specific times.

Workforce and market-related adjustments could also be made on your goals for the entire organization, the different departments, and the individual employees.

Finally, if you choose to put off your employee evaluations, be sure to provide your employees a structure for sharing feedback and learning and growing despite the disruption.

How can Payroll Systems help you with workforce management? We offer a combination of software and human support for your business. Contact us to learn more about our highly scalable HR and payroll solutions.

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This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business. You can also contact Payroll Systems to inquire about our HR support services.