SURVEY SAYS Views on Performance Appraisals

PLANSPONSOR NewsDash readers express their likes and dislikes about their firm’s performance review process.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “What do you think about your company’s performance appraisal process?

Nearly all responding readers (93.5%) reported their company uses a formal performance appraisal process. Only 6.7% indicated they are “very satisfied” with the process, while 23.3% are “somewhat satisfied,” and 16.7% are “neither dissatisfied nor satisfied.” Twenty percent said they are “somewhat dissatisfied” with their company’s performance appraisal process, and one-third are “very dissatisfied.”

Asked what they like about their company’s performance appraisal process, 30% chose “nothing.” More than two in 10 said they like getting a raise afterward, 16.7% like being able to let their boss know about the work they’ve done, and 26.7% like getting input from their boss about their work. Only 6.7% indicated they like being able to set goals for their career, and only 3.3% like doing peer reviews. More than one-third (36.7%) said it is an affirmation of their skills, 26.7% like self-assessing their achievements, and 13.3% like being able to measure their progress on previous goals.

As for what they dislike about their company’s performance appraisal process, 17.9% chose “everything,” 46.4% said it has no relation to raises, and 39.3% said it takes too much time. Nearly three in 10 (28.6%) indicated they dislike self-assessments, 10.7% dislike peer reviews, and 32.1% said there is no action taken on anything. Slightly more than 7% said it leads to negative feelings about themselves, 21.4% dislike trying to set goals, and 28.6% said the questions/categories on the appraisal do not relate or relate well with their job function.

Most of the readers who left comments seemed to be in the “dislike” camp. Many mentioned that raises are not actually tied to performance. Some complained about the time it takes, and several indicated it serves no purpose. Many readers said feedback on performance should be done between employees and managers throughout the year. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I would prefer a monthly ‘touch base’ session with my supervisor.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!


I have to conduct the performance appraisals and I find them a waste of time. The worksheet that we need to fill out is not really geared to professionals. I wish that we had something else to use as a framework to conduct the appraisals. With that being said, I check in with my staff regularly about their performance so nothing in the formal appraisal is ever a surprise.

We are supposed to set goals, but they end up being boilerplate. My manager knows what I am doing and checks in throughout the year. This annual process is only used to file a paper to justify a raise—which is always paltry, no matter how stellar our reviews are—because we are in a “competitive environment.” The entire process is a waste of time and effort.

They are by nature subjective. There’s a given pot of money dedicated to pay increases. Regardless of performance, the annual increase is tethered to that amount. By working in an HR function with access to the entire company’s pay information, it’s easy to see how this contributes to income inequality. Since increases are in percentages rather than flat dollar amounts, those in higher pay levels inexorably “win” and the gap gets wider. The lower paid jobs are crucial, so telling the incumbents to increase their education and skill levels doesn’t solve the issue. Somebody has to do the work. Disproportionately rewarding those subjectively deemed to be high performers necessarily negatively impacts others.

In my opinion, it doesn’t seem to matter what you indicate as the ratings are already pre-planned and so is the increase amount. Why go through the whole performance appraisal process? However, it does remind me all that has been accomplished over the past year, so I guess that is the good part!

Making people think the review process is linked to annual raises is a scam. The annual budget for raises is established well before the reviews are written but most employees think the process is the other way around.

Who reviews the reviewer?

I view performance reviews in the same category as I do overly complicated expense reporting: they’re part of any job and few companies get them right.

I would prefer a monthly “touch base” session with my supervisor.

Performance appraisals are much like donating to charities at Christmas—they assuage management’s guilt but don’t provide meaningful change or feedback. They’re done to “appease the masses,” not to facilitate a meaningful dialogue about the employee’s AND company’s performances over the last year. They are a necessary evil so management can justify a minimal raise to employees.

Ours is a website that I understand is used by a lot of companies. It is not user-friendly & difficult to navigate.

I have worked for 3 large insurance companies, and it’s the same at all three. The evaluation year is essentially just 11 months long, because self-appraisals must be completed by Thanksgiving—so you never get credit for anything that gets completed in December! Meanwhile, Management has secretly ranked all staff and decided on preliminary raise amounts. Pay is not tied to performance and performing the formal reviews is a huge waste of time for both employees, and managers who also tend to be worker-bees themselves.

Management is selective regarding who gets reviewed and who gets raises.

I have to do my own performance appraisal which I complete in less than 5 minutes. I just copy the one from the year before, change the date, change some figures which no one checks, sign it, and that’s it. My boss then writes one sentence. If you think this is fair, then you are the fool.

The need to improve the connection between performance and rewards continues to be the area for needed improvement identified from the annual all-employee survey at our firm.

The company touts pay for performance, but you can have a stellar year and the cap out for raises is 2%. Doesn’t feel like pay for performance.

Raises and bonuses are determined before appraisals are written. This results in appraisals being written to justify the raise, or lack thereof.

I don’t really know anyone that ‘likes’ giving or receiving appraisals. They are very time consuming and if open communication exists between manager and employee, the feedback is happening all year. That being said, I have a great boss who is very good at providing feedback, so it is nice to see it formalized in an appraisal. To get my current job, I used a prior appraisal as a ‘reference’ because I didn’t want to ask my then current supervisor. It worked very well!

I hate doing them. I feel like I am doing my bosses job—without the pay. All companies do them, so I guess you just have to suck it up and play the game. Can’t wait to retire.

What performance appraisal process???? Employers actually have that process in place????

I have found that, over the years, I wind up doing all the work on the appraisal so that my boss can check the box that it’s been done. Career development? Hey, it’s not like she has a clue… bitter? Nah.

No matter what “system” you choose to use, performance reviews are a necessary evil. The conversations should be happening on a regular basis, but frequently do not. You have to have something in the file for legal reasons…especially, if you need to let someone go.


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