4 Tips For Conducting Performance Reviews In A Hybrid Workplace Successfully

26 September 2022

7 min read

Lynette Teo
Lynette Teo

Performance evaluations have long been a useful tool for finding out how good the employees in your company are at doing their jobs, as well as the skills and competencies they should focus on developing to progress in their careers.

However, COVID-19 forced everyone to adopt work-from-home (WFH) arrangements for their employees. This made traditional performance evaluations less useful than before, as traditional indicators were biased towards time spent in the office.

With most employees now working remotely, this has made conducting performance evaluations more of a challenge.

Why Is The Old Way Of Conducting Performance Reviews No Longer Useful?

That’s because pre-existing biases against remote work by management are clashing with new trends towards transitioning to remote or hybrid work arrangements.

And this will continue to be an issue, given that remote working isn’t going away. 6 out of 10 firms interviewed by TODAY would retain hybrid work arrangements in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, we are already seeing how these biases are affecting performance evaluations. 

GetApps conducted an Employee Experience Survey, in which 43% of employees who went from working completely on-site to a hybrid or remote work arrangement during the pandemic said that the way their employers conducted their performance evaluations hasn’t changed.

That’s a problem. You’ll have to adapt the way your company does performance evaluations to account for the realities of today’s hybrid workplaces.

Here are 4 tips to help you do so.

1. Eliminate Bias From Your Performance Reviews

Many managers have an inherent bias against remote working, and it’s become a real problem for performance reviews with the trend towards a remote or hybrid workspace.

According to research, managers tend to favor in-office workers over remote ones unintentionally. That’s because we, as people, build deeper bonds with people directly in front of us more easily.

This tendency can lead you to believe that direct reports who work in close proximity to you are more productive and efficient than those working remotely from home. This is what we call proximity bias, and it can creep into the performance reviews you subsequently conduct for remote and/or hybrid reports.

It can cause those of your direct reports in remote or hybrid work arrangements to feel overlooked and undervalued during these reviews. This defeats the aim of remote work, and worse still, negatively affects the effectiveness of your company as a whole.

This, in turn, can lead to greater employee turnover and lower retention, incurring further costs for your company.

However, there are several powerful strategies you can use to mitigate the impact of proximity bias when conducting a performance review:

Regular check-ins

Providing continuous feedback helps your employees improve on their work

One-on-one calls

This helps you maintain communication with individual employees, and stay up-to-date on their progress.

Demonstrate your willingness to assist

This empower your employees to share their concerns, letting you know of any issues in their workflows that much sooner

Deal with existing issues promptly

This helps you gain the trust of your employees

Foster collaboration

Schedule a team meeting every two weeks to encourage collaboration between team members.

When they’re kept in the loop, receive regular feedback, and their requirements are acknowledged and fulfilled, your employees feel more empowered. They’ll also be more inclined to believe their performance reviews were fairly conducted.

You’ll also enjoy the benefits of a more connected, collaborative workforce, and build a superior business culture as well as more motivated employees who generate better outcomes. 

2. Establish Clear Goals And Evaluate Employee Performance According To Them

With time in the office no longer a relevant factor in determining the performance level of your workforce (if, indeed, it ever has been), you should focus on setting quantifiable goals for your employees instead.

To do this, focus on defining clear and easily adaptable goals over a shorter period of time, rather than rigid goals on a yearly basis.

While there are several approaches to setting goals – Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) being a well-known one – setting goals according to the SMART formula have long been a favorite:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Whichever method you choose, make sure you give it enough time to evaluate how effective it is, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

However, there’s no point establishing goals for your employee that don’t ultimately contribute to the broader mission of your company. Therefore, you should first define what the objectives of your company are before establishing goals for your employees.

Once you’ve done that, align the individual goals you’ve set for each employee with those of their teams, departments, and the company as a whole. This helps your employees see where they fit into the wider picture, and how their work supports the company’s mission and vision.

It also fosters a sense of transparency inside your company, which is a critical factor in the hybrid work environment.

3. Conduct Performance Reviews On A Regular Basis

It’s more important than ever to conduct performance reviews regularly, now that the hybrid workplace is here to stay in the long-term.

Doing so helps you stay informed of your employees’ performance levels. It also helps you keep in touch with them, and know how they’re coping with the change.

Being able to communicate face-to-face is important for performance reviews, but today’s collaboration platforms enables this even when everyone’s working at home.

Take the chance to discuss with your employees which work activities and tasks are obsolete, and which ones are more important than before, with the change to the hybrid work model.

4. Make Use of 360-Degree Feedback

You may be used to conducting performance reviews by yourself. But this leads to biased reviews, as only one person’s point of view is considered.

In addition, the shift to a hybrid work model means you’ve probably had less opportunity to work closely with your direct reports.

To reduce bias and create a more equitable review process, try conducting 360-degree performance reviews instead; that is, take both self-assessments from the employee in question, as well as peer assessments from their colleagues, into account as well.

This minimizes bias from a single source, as having feedback from multiple sources gives your the opportunity to identify discrepancies between your direct report’s self-assessment, with their colleagues’ peer assessment or your own assessment.

This makes it easier to produce more holistic and unbiased performance reviews for each of your direct reports.

The Way Of Conducting Performance Reviews Must Change In The Post COVID-19 Hybrid Workplace

The shift to remote or hybrid working arrangements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the old way of conducting performance reviews no longer useful as before.

Because of pre-existing bias by managers against those working remotely, and the difficulty of arranging face-to-face meetings by which performance reviews are usually conducted, a new way of undertaking such reviews must be adopted.

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