Is your performance review process prompting millennials to leave your company?
If you work with millennials - or if you are a millennial, yourself, you know that members of this generation have different expectations of the workplace than their older coworkers have had in the past. They’re more vocal about their needs, look for more opportunities for growth, hope for flexibility, and want to be rewarded for work well-done. Perhaps most importantly, though, millennials want to communicate with their managers about all of these things - regularly.
Millennials want to break the mold of the annual performance review and instead establish more constant, ongoing communication with their coworkers. Why is this important? Because businesses that don’t make this change to their employee review processes are at a high risk of losing great millennial talent - or missing out on it altogether. Here’s why, as well as what you can do about it.
Step 1: Understand what the needs of millennials in the workplace
Millennials have certain expectations for how they should be coached and supported at work. They want ongoing, frequent communication with their managers. How much more? A recent study by SuccessFactors in partnership with Oxford Economics found that millennials want feedback 50% more often than their coworkers who are members of other generations. What’s more, they want this regular communication instead of the traditional, structured annual review.
Just how much do they prefer regular feedback over annual reviews? So much so that Fast Company found that 69% of millennials think the annual review process is flawed. Beyond that, annual reviews are actually impacting millennials’ productivity and their relationships with their employers. Also according to Fast Company’s research, more than half of millennials have reacted to a performance review by looking for a new job, complaining to coworkers, cursing, or crying. What’s more, nearly one in four millennials have called in sick due to anxiety about a performance review. That’s definitely not the intended purpose of your performance reviews, right?
Step 2: Swap formal annual performance reviews for more frequent communication
As Entrepreneur contributor, Beth Miller suggests “Replace the annual performance review with regular, one-on-one meetings during which managers and employees set goals and monitor success.”
Plainly put, waiting a year to conduct a personal review simply isn’t sufficient anymore, particularly among millennials. Instead, provide frequent feedback as needed. Tell your millennial employees what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong - as they do it. Give them kudos as they achieve success. Provide constructive criticism immediately as opportunities arise. Deliver opportunities for learning and professional growth as often as possible.
Why is the frequency of your feedback so important? Because a lack of regular feedback is one of the biggest culprits for turnover among millennial employees. As a result, 62% of millennials say they have felt “blindsided” by a performance review. Additionally, 74% say they have felt "in the dark" about their managers’ and peers’ opinions of their performance.
In contrast, when managers do increase the frequency of communication and feedback with their employees, engagement, productivity and overall attitudes improve. According to a survey by TriNet, nearly 85% of millennials would feel more confident if their managers provided more frequent feedback.
Take, for example, powerhouse brand Adobe. The company did away with annual reviews recently, replacing them with bi-monthly “check-ins” between managers and their team members. This regular communication is meant to improve performance through greater clarity of overall objectives and transparency about progress toward goals. It is also designed to reduce tension and anxiety among employees by reducing the pressure often associated with less-frequent communication.
Step 3: Incorporate technology into your performance review process
In addition to more frequent communication, millennials are also eager to incorporate more technology into ...well… everything. Conversations about their performance are no exception. Companies have an opportunity to appeal to millennials’ affinity for technology and use it to their mutual benefit.
Technology, like KPISOFT, exists to help make the overall performance management process more organized and less painful for all parties involved. Applications and programs are available to help guide discussions about performance, help managers and employees set and track goals, record scorecards and measure KPIs (key performance indicators), and keep the entire performance management process simple and organized.
Step 4: Take a holisitic approach to performance reviews
Regardless of how frequently you commit to communicating with your team members, how you structure your performance check-ins or what technology you implement, there is no “silver bullet” - no single modification you can make to your annual review process that will magically engage and motivate millennials to be more productive for your company. The fact is that making the shift to a more modern, millennial-friendly performance review strategy is choosing to rethink and revamp your process as a whole.
Your performance management process must be an extension of your corporate culture - one that works to create an environment where the team members you want to attract and retain - millennials and otherwise - will want to work. Your culture, your annual review process, and the technology you employ should provide the frequent feedback and opportunities for growth needed to develop leaders that will drive your company toward success for many years to come.
Interested in making your performance reviews more friendly to millennials? Take a look at other articles about adapting to millennials in the workplace:
2 Big Reasons to Let Go of Traditional Performance Management