Posted May 16, 2016
Frequent, real-time feedback to employees has been taking HR by storm. The feedback revolution has been embraced by the world’s leading companies, and there is growing interest from other companies in frequent employee feedback solutions, the newest innovation in HR.
Traditional employee performance management is broken and dying. Too much time is invested in completing annual review forms. Feedback doesn’t occur as frequently as is needed. And software to facilitate reviews is expensive and complicated. Companies addressing these shortcomings are fueling one of the hottest sectors of Human Resources: Continuous Employee Feedback.
Evidence of this trend is seen in two areas: Leading edge companies increasingly abandoning their annual performance review processes in favor of continuous feedback to employees, and a significant amount of corporate and venture capital is being rapidly deployed into startups focused on facilitating continuous feedback.
As an indicator of the importance and interest in this emerging HR space, dozens of new feedback-focused startups are attracting significant corporate and venture capital. In April 2016, Twitter acquired Peer, a startup focused on employee and manager feedback. While the acquisition received little fanfare, it suggests a strategic fit between Twitter’s platform of real-time notifications and Peer’s focus on real-time feedback. It remains to be seen if and how Twitter integrates Peer into its current platform, and especially whether they flip what is currently a public notification feed for all “followers” into a private feedback stream.
Regardless of what Twitter eventually decides to do to integrate Peer technology, continuous employee feedback tools are among the hottest trends in HR and will be an increasingly important part of effective talent management.
Twitter’s acquisition of Peer is not the only indication of the interest in real-time feedback. Hundreds of other leading-edge companies have also invested in Continuous Employee Feedback solutions, either to enhance or replace their existing performance review process.
Innovative companies like Deloitte, Accenture, Microsoft, Gap, IBM and Medtronic – not to mention hundreds of smaller companies and start-ups – have all significantly revamped their annual performance review processes in the past two years. IBM exemplifies the big change these companies are making, replacing their traditional performance management system with “one that gives more opportunity to shift employee goals throughout the year and includes more frequent feedback.” (Note: “traditional” performance management cycles typically include a year-end performance appraisal, a beginning-of-the year goal-setting discussion, and possibly a mid-year review. The year-end performance appraisal often requires dozens of hours of time completing performance review forms and 360 degree reviews.)
Continuous feedback approaches typically take two forms, and the approaches employed by the most innovative companies address both dimensions: regular feedback from employees on their work and work environment, and regular feedback to employees on their performance and contributions. Regular feedback from employees is gathered via organizational pulse surveys, climate studies, surveys calculating “Net Promoter Scores” or similar tools. Feedback provided from colleagues to employees is usually gathered via regular check-in meetings, regular email messages with advice and comments, a simpler performance review form, and/or a continuous employee feedback tool like BlinkEval (try BlinkEval for free here).
However, informal feedback delivered via regular check-in meetings or via email is often not documented, or is challenging to summarize in a way that is valuable to either the employee or to HR. And even simple performance review forms are often time-intensive to complete, or requires the employee to request feedback, adding time and an additional step into the regular performance management process. A well-designed continuous employee feedback tool is often an ideal solution: it provides documentation of feedback so the employee and HR can review at any time, and it does so with minimal additional time or friction.
Continuous employee feedback solutions provide important benefits to both employees and HR teams: (1) Feedback is documented and viewable by the employee in real-time, allowing employees to actively adjust their performance to better align with company goals and manager expectations, and (2) HR can identify which employees are performing well above or well below expectations, allowing proactive interventions. HR can recognize and proactively reward outstanding performance, and identify training and development needs for underperforming employees, in a timelier fashion than with only annual/semi-annual reviews.
Even those companies who aren’t ready yet to ditch their traditional annual performance reviews are investing in continuous employee feedback solutions to enhance their current performance management processes. While they retain their in-depth year-end performance appraisal, they are now adding the capability to gather continuous feedback to employees on a real-time basis. Employee accomplishments achieved in January and February no longer need to wait for a December performance review, but can be acknowledged and documented immediately.
The trend is clear. Employee performance management is rapidly shifting to emphasize speed and frequency of feedback. Traditional once-a-year annual performance reviews are archaic and becoming endangered in its current form – they may survive, but only in conjunction with a continuous feedback approach to ensure that employees get the feedback, coaching and redirection they deserve. This trend will only gather more momentum as more companies see how easy it is to integrate continuous feedback into your current system. Don’t fall behind – implement continuous feedback now!
BlinkEval is the newest and most innovative of this new brand of continuous employee feedback applications. We integrate with employee calendars, so that each scheduled meeting becomes an opportunity to provide constructive feedback to all your colleagues, and receive feedback in return. BlinkEval is the easiest employee feedback application to integrate into your current system right away. Please visit us at www.BlinkEval.com to learn more. When you’re ready to enhance your company’s feedback culture, try us out for free!