By Sean Conrad*
Public sector organizations face ongoing pressures to be transparent, efficient and accountable. Employee performance reviews are a critical tool for ensuring staff know what is expected of them, and are accountable for their results and performance. Yet many public sector organizations struggle to do employee reviews.
There are numerous reasons for this, but they often boil down to the time and trouble it takes to complete employee reviews and the perception that they provide little value to the employee, managers/supervisor and organization. At the same time though, we continually hear that to be engaged and productive, employees need regular feedback and opportunities for professional and career development – things your employee review process is supposed to provide.
One proven way to increase the participation/completion rate for employee reviews and provide greater benefits to all participants is to automate your process and forms. Here are some of the benefits automated employee performance review systems can provide.
Faster and Easier Administration
Automated employee performance review systems simplify process administration. Typically, they allow you to configure your processes and forms to suit your needs. They take care of your workflow, ensuring everyone knows what tasks they have to complete, by when, and have everything they need to complete their tasks. The system handles the handoff of information from one person to the next in your workflow, so nothing is ever lost or forgotten. The software also usually provides centralized task lists as well automated email notifications. These help to take the process transparent to participants and increase participation, accountability and on-time completion. But best of all, automated systems allow you to easily track every review at every step in the process, so you know exactly who has and hasn't received their review at any point in time.
Faster and Easier Completion
Automating your employee review process and forms removes everyone's uncertainty about what they have to do, by when and what forms they are supposed to use. The software automatically notifies everyone who has a task to complete, gives them a link to the form they need to use and even gives them a due date. When the task is complete, the software automatically sends it along to the next person in the process. There's nothing to lose, due dates are clear, participants are reminded about their tasks – all without any effort on the part of your HR specialists.
In addition, automated systems make it faster and easier for managers and supervisors to complete their performance reviews. They give them fingertip access to all the information they need to complete the review, calculate scores, provide guidance on ratings, suggest comments/feedback and development activities, check for spelling mistakes and legally questionable language, and ensure nothing has been forgotten.
All of this results in tremendous time savings. When compared with a manual, paper-based process, managers typically report time savings in the order of 50-75%. In addition, most employees also report that they get more and better quality feedback, clearer goals and more targeted development planning.
Easier Data Aggregation and Analysis
One of the reasons organizations often fail to derive value from their employee performance review process is that they have no practical way to aggregate and analyze the data collected. Automating your process and forms should give you access to a whole variety of data about your employees' performance and development needs. Software tools typically let you report on things like:
- high performing/high potential employees
- development needs by organization/department/group/individual
- participation rates
- on-time completion rates
- organizational strengths and weaknesses
- progress on goals
- alignment of goals
- ratings and averages by organization/department/group, as well as by competency
You can analyze the data for trends and use it to improve things like: hiring, employee performance, rating calibration, work assignments, development planning, career development, compensation, succession planning, etc. – any management or decision-making process where you need reliable, accurate information about employee performance and development.
Time and Cost Savings
Automated performance review systems typically pay for themselves within a year or two, simply as a result of the cost and time savings they provide. In addition to saving managers 50-70% of the time they spend writing employee reviews and managing employee performance and development, they save HR significant time administering the review process. And the organization also saves money on paper, printing, filing and sometimes even mailing.
Improved Employee Alignment, Productivity and Performance
One final set of benefits delivered by automated performance review systems, which is sometimes overlooked, is increased employee alignment, productivity and performance.
With automated review systems, the organization typically sees a greater overall focus on employee performance and development – which by itself serves to increase performance. It's easier to align employees' goals with the organizations and track everyone's progress. Employees are given the coaching, feedback and development they need to improve and succeed. They know what they are supposed to be doing, understand expectations, and know how their work and performance will be evaluated. Employee engagement and retention levels tend to rise as their basic needs are being met. Employees and the organization tend to become more efficient and accountable.
Employee performance reviews are an important management tool to help drive employee performance, accountability and productivity. Automating your process and forms using performance management software can help unlock the benefits of this process for everyone in the organization.
*Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and senior product analyst at Halogen Software, who has helped numerous public sector organizations, including state courts, improve the way they manage employee performance. He has spoken at numerous industry events sharing his unique blend of technology expertise and understanding of HR-specific challenges.