Taking the stress out of performance appraisals.

Employees often regard appraisals as something dreadful, the kind of meeting that may lead to a bad mark on their employment record.  The end goal of a staff appraisal is to help organisations make important decisions about an employee regarding their pay, their development, and their training. Giving a performance appraisal can often send managers and employees into a panic, as both parties end up worrying about the differences of opinion and how to give constrictive feedback. If employee performance reviews are to be viewed positively then simple principles need to be applied to each occasion. In this article we will be looking at what these principles are and discussing ways you can achieve a stress-free performance appraisal.

 Why appraisals are stressful

A performance appraisal is not only stressful for the employee, but management too.  Managers are often anxious about how to give objective feedback in an unbiased manner, while on the other end of the scale employees get anxious about being evaluated. Employees worry about receiving a negative review on their performance and it affecting their confidence in the job.  Furthermore, your human resources team are under the pressure of having to oversee appraisals, as well as deal with any conflicts that arises between the staff and management. From these points alone, we can obviously see why holding a performance appraisal may be undesirable to all parties involved.

Minimizing performance appraisal stress

Firstly, if you are to hold a successful staff performance appraisal, the purpose of the meeting must be clear. There are paths you can take to minimize the stress that comes with a performance review for all those taking part.

  1. Management appraisal training

 Training management on how to provide effective performance reviews should be top priority. Giving poor feedback and advice will filter down to employees, creating a cycle of stress when reviews are to be held in the future. The appraisal should begin with the manager providing positive feedback on the employee’s performance; this will set a stress free environment for the rest of the meeting. The employees should also be encouraged to share their thoughts and views, and managers should genuinely listen and take on board any suggestions or concerns the employee may have. If feasible, management should try to act upon any suggestions the employee has regarding bettering their performance.  Giving suggestions a “trial run” will re-enforce how you value the employee’s input for the company and show appreciation for their hard work with tangible rewards

  1. Communication and regular feedback

Regular feedback should be given to employees throughout the year as this will eliminate any suspense that comes with a performance review. Employees often benefit from this kind of feedback and find motivation from being assessed on the job as they go. Communicating with your staff regularly not only takes the stress out of future meetings, but also helps to stimulate productivity through intrinsic motivation.


  1. Employee development opportunities   

Management should take employee career development seriously and oversee their progression within the company. In order to perform well and excel in their current role, an organisation must provide opportunities and sufficient training for their employees. Encourage staff to make their own decisions to cultivate a culture that empowers employee development. By doing so, employees will be more open to being assessed and evaluated on their performance; as they would see critical input as a challenge they must overcome in order to grow beyond their current position.

  1. Lessen administrative strain for HR

It’s often easy to forget the people behind the scenes who put in a lot of work making the cogs turn in a business. Performance appraisals can lead to hefty administrative tasks and an increased work load for your HR department. Your HR team is responsible for ensuring the appraisal runs as smoothly as possible for all members involved as well as handling all the paperwork and processes of the appraisal. To reduce the stress for your HR team, you should consider using administrative software that will reduce the workload for the department. It has become commonplace for training programmes, time-sheets, staff holidays etc. to be digitalised, so there’s no reason your company shouldn’t be utilising digital technology to make staff appraisals easier than they need to be.

  1. Using online HR management software

As mentioned above, everything has been or will be digitalised. Managers who are stuck using dated staff assessment procedures may feel unnecessarily stressed having to complete all appraisal forms by hand. There are easy to use Employers HR system tools online that can significantly reduce the stress for managers overseeing performance appraisals. Companies that incorporate these systems into that HR and employment procedures can reduce the stress managers, employees face when dealing with a sensitive matter like staff appraisals.

Introducing these steps into your workplace practice will also propel your company towards a more culture rich organisation, and can ultimately result in increased employee engagement and better business performance overall.

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