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How often should employees be evaluated?

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Investing in more frequent performance evaluations can increase employee engagement, improve retention, and help you attract top talent. In fact, according to one study, adopting a policy of frequent feedback helps companies outperform their competition by 24%.

However, around 90% of HR leaders are unhappy with the effectiveness of their current annual employee evaluations. And a lot of this has to do with timing.

  • How often should employees be evaluated?

  • How long should the evaluation be?

  • How can you make them better for all involved?

Let’s break it down.

How Often Should Employees Be Evaluated?

When performance review frequency is only yearly, the effectiveness of the review plummets. According to Gallup, traditional reviews strongly inspire only 14% of employees to improve their work performance – which defeats the entire purpose of an employee review.

On top of this, the traditional annual review leads to unnecessary anxiety and confrontation – making it difficult for employees (as well as the employer) to effectively handle the situation. For these reasons, many large corporations are ditching reviews altogether.

However, this isn’t the answer either. Foregoing employee reviews makes performance drop, too. So what’s the solution?

Companies are starting to discover that frequent feedback is the key to unlocking employee potential. Providing each employee with a short monthly review or quarterly review can improve engagement and relieve overall anxiety surrounding the event. In fact, providing feedback as often as weekly can bring about even larger benefits.

According to Gallop, weekly feedback triples employee engagement and increases their motivation to do outstanding work.

How Long Should a Performance Review Be?

Frequency isn’t the only problem associated with employee performance reviews. The length of a performance evaluation can also be problematic.

Due to the length in-between traditional annual reviews, managers often feel obligated to unnecessarily fatten the process. As a result, employees find themselves feeling grilled for an hour or longer – which can lead to heightened anxiety and a lowered attention span.

This is why shorter, more frequent performance evaluations tend to have a larger impact. A quick, 15-minute meeting weekly or bi-monthly can work wonders for employee engagement and overall motivation. And typically, the more informal, the better.

Don’t go into the meeting prepared to rank and rate an employee. This only leads to harmful powerful dynamics between employees and management and also tends to pit employees against one another.

Instead, use the performance evaluation as an opportunity to gently provide constructive feedback, listen to employee concerns, and provide guidance. This works best with open-ended questions and meaningful conversation.

How To Conduct Employee Evaluations

Even if you switch to a more informal, open-ended evaluation, you still need to analyze an individual employee’s fit within the organization. Here are a few tips to help you do this.

Use scheduled meetings.

Continuous feedback doesn’t need to occur during formal evaluations. But don’t neglect the importance of a scheduled one-on-one. These face-to-face meetings give employees a chance to voice their ideas and concerns. Instead of an hour-long annual review, schedule a handful of 15-minute meetings throughout the year.

Pro Tip: You don’t need to position these as evaluations. You can call them monthly check-ins or status updates. This will make your employees feel more at ease with the situation and more likely to open up about potential hurdles.

Take good notes.

Raises will likely still come around only once a year. Taking notes during every evaluation and keeping records of informal feedback will help determine pay increases. Your notes will also assist with any employment-related legal issues that may arise.

Rely on fewer questions.

If you do go into the meeting with some type of structure, make sure you leave enough room for open-ended discussion. As far as specific questions are concerned, narrow these down to three or four, and leave the rest for future evaluations.

Pro Tip: You can’t discuss everything at once, and even if you try, you won’t give each issue the attention it deserves. Prioritize questions and feedback, so you can get the most bang for your buck.

How Better Employee Reviews Create Success

Even though the majority of people don’t look forward to the performance review process, employees still appreciate the value of feedback. In fact, 80% of Gen Y employees prefer real-time feedback – which only reinforces the idea of more frequent reviews.

Making simple, yet effective changes to your employee evaluation process (and performance management strategy as a whole) can only improve employee performance, engagement, and retention. If you’d like to learn more about finding and implementing an effective performance management strategy, we’d love to help. Check out these additional resources to get started:


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