SURVEY SAYS: Performance Appraisals During COVID-19

PLANSPONSOR NewsDash readers weigh in on whether performance appraisals should be adjusted this year.

For many companies, this is the time of year for performance appraisals.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Do you think employers should adjust expectations for employees to reach goals because of the pandemic?” And, “How do you think the pandemic has affected performance generally?”

More than half (57.1%) of responding readers work in a plan sponsor role, 25% are recordkeepers/TPAs/investment consultants, 14.3% are advisers/consultants and 3.6% are attorneys.

More than six in 10 responding readers said employers should reduce expectations for some goals, keep expectations the same for some, or increase expectations for some goals; 21.4% said there should be no change to expectations; and 17.9% said employers should reduce expectations.

The majority of respondents reported that they think the pandemic has hurt the performance of some employees and improved the performance of others. Only 7.1% indicated that it has hurt the performance of employees, and 14.3% said it has generally not affected performance.

A few of the readers who left comments said considerations of goals and expectations should be determined on a case-by-case basis. A couple of respondents shared how their own performance has been affected. There is no Editor’s Choice this week.


I have days that it takes half the day to get the computer and printer working. So, I get only half of what I planned done. Then I have days that everything works and no one calls, no meetings and I get twice as much done. It has been a crap shoot.

I feel so much more productive working from home. I enjoy the time saved. No more getting dressed up, putting on makeup, driving in, and chatting with my coworkers about non-work things.

It depends on your manager. My current manager is compassionate, and if you are having a problem due to Covid, he would work with you because he wants you to succeed. My last manager hated people working from home and allowed it only once a week. We had to fill in a spreadsheet accounting for EVERY MINUTE of the day. Treated us like she was babysitting. She would HATE this situation.

There is no “typical” this year. Personally, I know I’m less distracted so I can knock some aspects of my job out. But communication can be broken since the hallway conversations aren’t happening.

Employees who “onboarded” during the pandemic should be given some grace. It is much harder to learn a new job when working from home and away from the support system available in an office environment.

My company uses the approach of periodic (monthly or more frequent) performance discussions, and did pre-pandemic. There are semi-annual more formalized performance reviews. The periodic approach allows an ongoing discussion of expectations and challenges, so employees and their managers are able to fine tune goals and expectations. I’ve noticed increased productivity in the areas of the company I’m working with, with 90% or so of the overall company doing remote work. About 10% of employees worked remotely prior to the pandemic. Fortunately, for my company, it’s been business as usual without skipping a beat.

Goals should be generally treated on a case-by-case basis depending on the individual circumstances.

The ten commandments were written in stone, performance goals need to ride the wave.

I think this should be looked at on a case by case, industry by industry basis. Some industries had little to no change, although employees may have had significant changes in their everyday life. In others, there have been significant changes all the way around. To negatively judge employees without additional information is not going to lead to employee loyalty to their employer.

The current situation is very unique and to expect or predict behavior in employees is challenging.

Managers should be in tune to their direct reports to be able to tell if and how they have been impacted by this year’s changing circumstances. Good managers won’t wait 9 months during the pandemic to provide feedback, determine if adjustments are needed to reset goals and expectations, or implement methods to help their employees succeed during these unusual times.

Perhaps the goals should change, not necessarily the expectations…

I suspect there is a lot of “Who cares?” attitude at this point.

We canceled the mid-year performance reviews, normally done in June as this was early in the pandemic.

I have found that some employees are able to perform better from home and they have kept up with or exceeded performance expectations.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.