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As workplace circumstances change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many variables and systems within organisations must change and adapt. The HR department needs to respond quickly, but it also needs to create new ways to manage job interviews, onboarding processes, and overall communication channels within the company. On top of that, the human resources personnel have to reassess its feedback channels and performance evaluation processes.

How do you manage appraisals with minimum disruptions, and how do you do it reasonably, seeing that every employee faces different challenges when working from home? Ahead, you'll find some ideas and options to consider before you begin your next appraisal cycle.

Related: How to manage a remote team effectively

Why performance evaluations are essential

Appraisals, also known as performance reviews or evaluations, have a long-term impact on your business. They measure employee's achievements against predetermined goals and this helps the company identify low and high-performing employees.

Performance evaluations enable you to differentiate between employees. They are used to help companies decide on salary, promotions, bonus payments and other development opportunities – no matter the size of your company.

Related: What can we expect from the new normal at work?

Why the performance evaluation process needs to change during the pandemic

Millions of people worldwide are working from home during the pandemic. They are in different home setups and circumstances and face various responsibilities at home. Some also need to manage workloads along with childcare, remote schooling and elderly care, while others may be living alone or even with landlords or tenants. And each of these scenarios can affect employees' well-being differently. 

For instance, some thrive on their own, and others prefer the camaraderie that comes with office life. In some cases, employees have to take on new roles or added duties. So when you hold employees to pre-pandemic standards during this time, it could lead them to become burnt out or to resign.

Given these circumstances, managers need to be empathetic and compassionate and figure out how to award outstanding employees without penalising those who might be struggling.

New competencies are required to help both managers and employees navigate the changing workplace priorities. And therefore, organisations must consider what they value and take this opportunity to reflect on the challenges associated with the pandemic on employees' performance and use this opportunity to communicate what success looks like this period.

Related: How qualitative performance evaluations give businesses a competitive edge

Adjusting the way you evaluate performance

Organisations must consider what they value and take this opportunity to reflect on the challenges associated with the pandemic on employees' performance.

While calibrating appraisal parameters, managers should also consider adding other metrics such as adaptability, creativity and change management. These parameters demonstrate the traits needed to face today's business environment. 

As there is much lesser interaction between managers and their teams with remote work, managers should communicate regularly with their teams and not leave any feedback until the end of the year in order to better track employee performance and work on any prevailing issues. 

Depending on the type of work, these check-ins can be weekly or bi-weekly informal check-ins instead of formal evaluations. Companies that used to do annual reviews before the pandemic could consider adding mid-year reviews as well.

This way, managers can better track employee performance, especially during remote work, and work on any prevailing issues and meet goals, if any. Ongoing feedback promotes learning, helps maintain morale and productivity, keeps employees on track, and lends a sense of connection and work stability and security, which are vital in times of crisis. 

The way organisations manage performance reviews is crucial. It allows a company to look at its overall performance and reflect on its motivations and priorities for its employees. And when it comes to performance reviews, employees need to feel supported or valued. If not, they would naturally leave. And in this market where talent is often short in supply, companies have to put people first to set up their organisations for success in the long run.

Read more:
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