Human Resources departments have benefited greatly from the advent of technology. With advances in data management, communication and automation growing in leaps and bounds, HR functions became streamlined and precise. As discussed in previous articles, the functions of recruiting, hiring and benefits are vastly more efficient than in previous years thanks to Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) and communication technology. Similarly, employee performance reviews have finally reached their potential. While previously, performance reviews too often created more problems than answers, technology has allowed their intended benefits to be realized.
Many people in the workforce have at some time experienced a performance review process that was anything from a necessary evil to a waste of effort. Before technology, not only did having to conduct these reviews involve a large amount of paperwork, red-tape, and time, it too often yielded little in the way of evidence proving its benefit. While HR certainly recognized the benefit in creating a process and paper trail intended to prevent and defend against equal employment and employee relations issues, employees too often were unable to connect the line between performance reviews and their career paths, goals and growth. Additionally, relevancy was an issue, as annual reviews were often a “one size fits all” review and rating process. In a paper-record world, individualizing reviews by person, function or department was simply too costly and time consuming.
Today, however, performance review software and HR database servers resolve many of the issues of ineffectiveness.
Previously, every employee in a company, from salesman to receptionist, might be evaluated using the same measurements for establishing and tracking goals, expectations and performance. Not only were employees’ true performance not accurately measured, they were ultimately not provided with appropriate guidance for achieving success. Now, however, HR can easily adapt performance reviews to reflect overall corporate objectives, while still individualizing goals and appropriately distributing weight among relevant expectations. For instance, while every department would need to set goals for customer service, a sales department or call center could appropriately give more weight to performance on customer service than the accounting department.
An essential function of performance reviews is to provide goals for employees. The achievement of these goals often determines employee promotions and compensation, but also can improve employee satisfaction. Before technology, the effort and time required to create and execute a performance review often meant they were only done annually. As a result, an employee’s objectives for the entire year were established once, and were only reviewed a year later. This habit meant overall performance was calculated using out-of-date and imprecise measurements, and career guidance was minimal. For instance, studies have shown that when performance is only reviewed annually, managers often ranked employees using very recent performance rather than year-long behavior. If an employee’s functions changed, often their established goals from a previous review no longer reflected new responsibilities. Also, employees often complained that they had no way to track their performance, let alone receive guidance or feedback. Automation of performance reviews using software and HP servers has made it possible, however, for corporations to easily create regular reviews for managers and employees to effortlessly update. Managers and employees are electronically prompted on a regular basis to review goals/performance, meaning final reviews provide an accurate reflection of overall performance. Regular feedback also realizes the intention of reviews – to improve performance through guidance and information. Employees who don’t know about missteps cannot improve, and employees who aren’t given positive feedback often feel less overall satisfaction. With the help of technology and HR, both corporations and their employees can fully realize their goals.