UK employers move from annual performance reviews to ongoing dialogue


Forced performance rankings of employees are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, top performing UK employers are moving towards more transparent goal setting and more regular feedback as part of simpler and less formal performance reviewing. This is the conclusion of a new report on Performance Management by the Top Employers Institute.

96 per cent of the UK companies that qualify for the Top Employers status are now consistently re-aligning performance goals during the year in response to changing business needs, and 84 per cent evaluate the performance of their employees on a continuous basis, marking a major shift away from the traditional annual review, and towards providing ongoing feedback.
While employers consider it important to measure performance, current processes are seen to have become too complex and over-engineered, reliant on rating scales that are perceived as not fit anymore to measure performance in today’s working environment. The survey shows a trend for employers to offer coaching and development opportunities, rather than rankings.
David Plink, CEO of the Top Employers Institute, claims that performance management will always be ever-changing.
“A key finding of our study is that Performance Management evolves from an annual event with rigid objectives to a transparent process of continuous dialogue, with flexible goals, that is more embedded in day-to-day operations so it can better deal with change. Companies that become Top Employers redefine performance as the ability to collaborate and contribute to the success of a team”
“We are definitely on the verge of a paradigm shift in the way we look at Performance Management.”
Previously, the focus for Performance Management had been on the individual and individual tasks. But as many companies foster a more connected and team-based working culture, traditional performance measures do not reflect that anymore. Key capabilities are now social awareness, agility and flexibility so that top performing companies aim to assess the effectiveness of employees in the broader work environment.
As a consequence, Top Employers are increasingly encouraging their teams to be more involved in their own Performance Management so they can feel in control of their own progression. Those companies have realised that an inclusive approach helps support a high performance culture which helps accelerate the company’s strategy.
Finally, the survey highlights a weakening link between Performance Management and compensation, with only just over 10 per cent of participants considering an important objective of the process being to provide a basis for salary increases. This shows how the overall objectives of Performance Management are changing. A rigid link between performance and pay enforces a strong emphasis on individual performance, but is not effective when looking at an employee’s contribution to the performance of the organization or the development of other employees.