Performance Reviews And The Evolving Landscape Of Employee Engagement

by | Employees, Hiring, Performance Management, Performance Reviews

In the ever-evolving corporate arena, the interplay between employers and employees remains a fascinating dynamic, encompassing an array of pressing concerns such as the return-to-office debate and the emergence of “quiet quitting.” Amidst this backdrop, performance reviews have become a focal point of innovation in the ongoing employer-employee discourse.

Major industry players like Google, Amazon, Meta and others are pioneering innovative approaches to performance reviews, driven by the need to enhance productivity, manage costs, and foster a culture of growth.

At the same time, employee engagement has transitioned from a mere buzzword to a cornerstone of organizational strategy. Today’s employees seek more than just a paycheck—they desire a sense of purpose, growth opportunities, and a supportive work environment. Engaged companies outperform their competition.

More Context

An increasing number of major companies are requiring employees to return to the office full or part-time. These return-to-office mandates are on the rise as worker productivity appears to be dipping down.

According to Gallop, 56% of U.S. workers have jobs that can be done remotely. And 90% of U.S. employees who can work remotely don’t want to return to the office five days a week.

Gallup research during the aftershock of the pandemic found that remote-ready employees in collaborative jobs who work on-site two to three days per week are more engaged and have higher well-being.

Exceptional performance management matters. Outmoded performance management practices, with inflexible and often frustrating review processes, are not effective.

Shifting from a mindset of traditional to innovative performance management requires companies to think of managers as coaches rather than bosses. And when managers have well-timed performance conversations that reflect this sentiment, manager-employee interactions feel much more encouraging, engaging and rewarding.

Examples of Performance Reviews At Zoom, Google, Amazon, Meta And Shopify

Perhaps ironically, Zoom is calling employees back to the office. The company says workers near offices must come in twice a week as the remote-work namesake and former pandemic-era favorite seeks to generate faster growth.

Google advanced the return-to-office push by using in-person attendance as part of employee performance reviews. This after having overhauled their performance review system last May which reduced performance reviews from twice to once a year. Managers meet with employees in a series of feedback check-ins throughout the year, with promotions happening twice yearly. During annual performance ratings, Google employees’ impact is ranked from “not enough” to “outstanding” or “transformative.”

Amazon’s performance review procedure has long been known for its lack of transparency, even among its employees. However, reports last year revealed insights into how managers assess the performance of corporate staff.

As reported by Insider, managers gauge employees using Amazon’s leadership principles, their current performance, and their potential for future growth. The evaluation process involves multiple criteria, such as comparing an employee’s accomplishments for the year against the role’s expectations, considering input from colleagues and the employee’s self-assessment, and incorporating observations from managerial discussions with employees.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious “year of efficiency” is leaving no stone unturned within the company, and this drive for efficiency is making waves even in the realm of performance evaluations. Last July, the tech behemoth dispatched a message to its managers: identify underperforming individuals and promptly relay this information to the human resources department.

Fast forward to the early months of 2023, and the echoes of this directive are resonating as thousands of employees found themselves facing lackluster performance ratings, accompanied by trimming bonuses as well. While this might raise eyebrows, insiders reveal that Meta has never been one to shy away from stringent evaluations—a tendency that predates the pandemic.

In October 2022, Shopify shared plans to overhaul and innovate their performance review process. The new system is less vague and more “evidence-based.” People leaders participate in exercises to assess the current performance of their teams. This will help the company identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to address them.

Second, employees are asked to participate in a self-reflection exercise to share their thoughts on growth and development. This will help the company identify individual needs and create tailored development plans.

The company is also clarifying the type of work each employee does to standardize the language around jobs. This is intended to make it easier for employees to understand their roles and responsibilities—and for the company to make fair and equitable decisions about compensation and advancement.

What To Do

Nine trends are predicted that organizations will have to confront this year, based on Gartner research:

  1. “Quiet hiring” offers new ways to snag in-demand talent
  2. Hybrid flexibility reaches the front lines
  3. Squeezed by competing leader and employee expectations, managers need support
  4. Pursuit of nontraditional candidates expands talent pipelines
  5. Healing pandemic trauma opens the path to sustainable performance
  6. Organizations push DEI forward amid growing pushback
  7. Getting personal with employee support creates new data risks
  8. Algorithmic bias concerns lead to more transparency in recruiting tech
  9. Gen Z skills gaps reveal workforce-wide erosion of social skills

In today’s competitive labor market, companies that want to attract and retain top talent need to focus on the most critical aspects of work:

  • Acquiring critical talent: Offering competitive salaries and benefits, as well as promoting a positive and supportive work environment. Companies should also make it easy for employees to learn and grow, and to advance their careers.
  • Supporting all employees holistically: This means providing employees with the resources they need to be successful, both professionally and personally. This includes things like flexible work arrangements, mental health support, and financial planning assistance, among others.
  • Ethically collecting and using employee data: In today’s digital age, companies have access to more employee data than ever before. It’s important to use this data responsibly and ethically and to protect employee privacy.

Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share according to Gallup. Companies that can successfully address these areas will be well-positioned to attract, engage and retain top talent and to differentiate themselves as employers of choice. They will also be better prepared to meet the challenges of the future of work.

View original post at, where David Henkin is a contributing writer


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David G. Henkin

I serve as an advisor to corporate and nonprofit leaders and their organizations in the areas of innovation, work design, business and technology, teams, and leadership. An expert in designing and implementing innovative business strategies and solutions improving performance, profitable possibilities, and developing organizational capabilities through a collaborative-growth approach. My most recent book is Fixing Work: A Tale about How to Design Jobs Employees Love. My work experience includes Chief Innovation Officer at Vertex (VERX), also serving as Executive Vice President. In addition, launching and leading their public cloud business and Managed Services and Outsourcing practice. I was a board member at Wheelhouse Analytics from startup through successful strategic acquisition, served as Chief Operating Officer at Coates Analytics also from startup through successful strategic acquisition. Prior to that I was a Corporate Officer and Principal at Vanguard.