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Fewer and fewer employers are conducting formal performance reviews. According to The Society of Human Resource Management, hiring managers think formal performance reviews are inaccurate, time-consuming and don’t motivate employees. Employees often complain that they are untimely, disrespectful and don’t reward high performers or deal with poor performers. Employers are beginning to opt out of official performance reviews and beginning to implement check-ins to ensure employee performance standards are upheld.

What is the difference between a Performance Review and a Check-In?

Check-ins are more frequent informal meetings in which expectations are defined, feedback is provided, and future professional development is discussed. Though similar to a performance review by definition, check-ins occur on a more regular basis with less formal judgements; they tend to cover more recent projects and behaviors. Pay is decided by either a managers’ discretion or a specified rating system for compensation purposes.

What should be considered before making the switch?

Employers considering making the switch from a more formal review to quick check-ins should have a plan in place for how they will provide feedback to the government should they be investigated in response to discrimination complaints. In that same regard, employers should have a transparent process for documenting reasons for differences in pay. They should be able to articulate legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for any difference in compensation.

What are best practices for formal performance reviews?

If an employer decides to continue to conduct formal performance reviews, they should ensure that they follow best practices, including:

  • Document goals at the start of the performance cycle and modify them if needed
  • Provide guidance when giving feedback
  • Use objective criteria
  • Require comments and examples to support performance ratings
  • Allow employees to comment and appeal as part of the process

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