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Performance Management Trends That Lead to Increased Engagement

Gone are the days of the annual written performance review and a one-time meeting between employee and manager.

Human resources and performance management trends have moved towards programs and practices emphasizing ongoing communication and creating a connection and collaborative environment with employees. Despite their evolution, performance management programs remain key to employee engagement, productivity, and development. Employers seek to build a stronger bond with their employees, which ties them to the vision and mission of the organization. Gallup found that employees who received meaningful feedback were four times more likely to be engaged than those that did not.  While employers understand the importance of continuous communication, this can be challenging in practice.

The Performance Management Revolution

With the talent gap expected to continue for years to come, attracting and retaining employees remains imperative, putting continuous feedback at the forefront of these initiatives.

To hire, attract and retain top talent, employers are using their performance management programs to foster a strong culture of employee engagement.

Constant touchpoints with employees will link employees to the organization and show employees that their employer truly cares about their wellbeing and success. It also highlights how employees’ contributions make a difference within the organization – the main driver of employee engagement.

In the past, continuous feedback was left up to chance, falling into the hands of managers to talk to their employees as they felt necessary. Some managers excelled with this level of communication and developed substantial relationships with their employees, and others did the bare minimum, completing the annual performance review, filing it with HR, and never addressing performance again until the following year.

Staying Ahead of the Trends

Forward-thinking companies are formalizing programs to ensure all managers give and all employees receive concrete continuous feedback.

Continuous feedback programs vary depending on the goals of the company. Some companies use a system of written “mini-reviews” to check in at set times with their employees, whether quarterly, monthly, or driven by business initiatives, such as a specific project. Other companies are using recognition programs to ensure the employee-manager connection. In doing so, managers can highlight when employees have successes and address where they see development opportunities. This style of feedback provides timely acknowledgment or recommendations regarding specific behaviors.

Companies operating remotely or hybrid may have a more significant challenge in providing continuous feedback. Being deliberate about when and how you are giving feedback will be even more critical. Remote feedback may be less organic but nonetheless, just as important.

Feedback That is Meaningful and Human

With the movement toward continuous feedback, there has been an increased emphasis on the quality of that feedback. Feedback and recognition must be valuable, specific, and timely to drive employee engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction. Research has shown that employees, especially younger employees, want to feel connected to the company and their work. Giving good feedback, even if it’s constructive, helps drive that connection. Empty feedback that doesn’t provide specific examples can feel like it lacks merit. Employees want to understand what the feedback means and the “why” behind the advice. This information can tie them directly to the organization’s goals and deepen their connection and ability to make an impact.

Often managers are promoted to their positions because they are good at what they do but they may need more managerial skills to give effective feedback and engage their employees. With the growing importance of continuous and solid feedback, employers are taking action to ensure managers are trained and equipped with the skills necessary to use performance management to drive employee engagement.

Performance Management is One Piece of the Puzzle

Employee engagement is driven by an employee’s happiness and ability to be successful. Feedback alone can’t drive engagement; it is one piece of the performance management puzzle. Training and development programs that align and support the performance management program help to solidify employee engagement further. As the workforce evolves, employees strive to increase their skills, grow and enhance their knowledge. Training and development programs will increase in importance and help to support the feedback employees receive and the supporting development programs.

As the performance management evolution continues, so does the by-product of a more connected, engaged and productive workforce. Employees with a genuine connection to the company are driven to success, and those companies with progressive performance management programs will reap the benefits.

Looking to drive engagement and purpose? Visit our recent article: The Secret Weapon for Higher Employee Engagement: Purpose.