Trisha A. Barita

Attorney at Law

Barita & Keough Law Firm, PPLC

Main: 713.239.5617

Direct Tel: 281.788.7963

Fax: 713.456.2707

Employee Performance Reviews

Employee Performance Reviews: Pros and Cons

It is coming to the end of the year and for many employers, they will begin the process of the annual employee performance review which is the process of evaluating an employee and their past work performance.  Employers often debate about whether to conduct an employee performance review, how often to conduct them (annually, quarterly etc.), what type of analysis they should include, whether there should be a peer element, whether the employee should rate themselves, and how to provide both positive and negative feedback to the employee.  There is no specific law requiring employee performance reviews but the way one is conducted can affect an employer’s potential liability in an employment context.  This is not something an employer should jump into lightly just to do them but to be thoughtful about the process and understand the significant piece of evidence an employee performance review could become if there were ever in an employment case.

The positives of conducting an employee performance review are that many employers report that employees will improve when given specific feedback on their performance.  Employers also report that employees like the opportunity to obtain positive feedback on what type of work they are doing well especially if they are not feeling appreciated in the work environment.  Some employees feel it improves company culture if the employee performance review gives an opportunity for the employee to share goals they have for working with the Company and a conversation with management about things they may need to see in their performance to help them obtain those goals.  Employers can also use the performance reviews to communicate directly in writing specific work issues with certain employees and give the employee an opportunity to change their work habits to solve those problems if possible.

The negatives of an employee performance review can occur when the employer has not applied a consistent approach of review to each type of employee.  These mistakes can be costly from a legal perspective because showing favoritism to certain employees and not disciplining employees consistently for the same or similar types of policy violations or performance issues can expose an employer to discrimination claims or other claims against the employer. In these types of cases, the employee performance review can be used as evidence against the Employer.

TAKE AWAY TIPS:

  • Draft a clear objective and consistent plan to evaluate employee performance
  • Use Objective Evidence when possible (i.e. sales numbers, meeting project deadlines etc.)
  • Wording is important and should be professional, avoiding inflammatory language or language that would be considered discriminatory
  • The Evaluation should contain an honest reflection of the performance of the employee and should always include areas of improvement or future goals even in the best employees
  • Have a Single Authority (Owner/HR Director/Main Manager) conduct all of the evaluations or alternatively provide very clear training to the set of Managers that will be providing the evaluations so that they all follow the Employer’s objective and consistent approach