Are Employee Performance Reviews Productive?

November 27th, 2011

There is a debate among many HR departments about the actual value of performance reviews and if they actually increase productivity in the workplace or not. Some view performance reviews as somewhat of a system of rewarding only those who are favored by upper management, while many good deeds go unnoticed the rest of the year.

As employees and employers everywhere begin to dread upcoming performance review time, here is what the research says about how they are productive (or not). You decide.

Critics of performance reviews say that when only done once a year, they are ineffective at producing any real change in employee behavior the rest of the time. A Wharton University professor of Management, Matthew Bidwell, indicated that reviews tend to produce competing goals between employee and employer. Employees often do not get the kind of feedback they need to make honest assessments of their worth, and they are only focused on getting a raise. Employers on the other hand are focused on limiting raises and dishing out more work duties to already discouraged employees. The two nary meet in the middle.

To do performance reviews, they must be done correctly. The evidence is stacked up against doing performance reviews, but when done the right way they can be highly effective for a number of reasons. Sadly, only less than 40% of companies actually do performance reviews well, according to senior VP, David Insler, at Sibson Consulting in New York. This means the results are not valid and they do not accurately reflect the development needs of workplaces around the world. Employees at the bottom half of performing teams may feel like they are not heard, while other employees are not challenged enough.

Another concern with performance reviews is that oftentimes those done in a short time frame have the added pressure of just getting done, not getting done right. A WorldAtWork survey conducted in 2011 indicated that as many as 58% of HR managers give their own company performance reviews a grade of “C” or below because they don’t receive adequete training. The survey further revealed that there is an overall dissatisfaction and disconnect among US employees regarding performance reviews – with only 25% of those polled ever having received a positive review and 24% dreading their annual review significantly.

So, what can an HR professional do about the massive negative attitudes towards performance reviews? First, the performance review should be managed as part of an ongoing effort to improve workplace practices and performance. Managers should be conducting them as projects are completed, and at regular intervals. Secondly, the company can benefit greatly by implementing an outsourced, unbiased performance review system – so that all information is secure and accurate.

Over time  and better management of all your performance reviews, your employees will dread them less and will be able to get the feedback they need to be better on the job.

Photo Credit: Michal Marcol / HR

How To Guide to the Tactful Interview Follow-up

November 21st, 2011

After a job interview, candidates should generally provide some follow up to the hiring authority. It shows professionalism and makes a good impression.  Hiring decisions may not be made on qualifications alone, but also on the impression made on the hiring authority. Effective follow-up shows persistence and enthusiasm for the company.

Here’s how to handle the interview follow-up process, and improving your chances of landing a great new job.

Initial Response 

For a first follow-up, write an email or make a phone call within 48 hours after the interview. It should be presented in a professional matter and show that you are committed to the job opening. The way it is conducted could be based on the tone of the interview.  If the interview was serious and straightforward, the first follow-up should reflect this. If it was light and conversational, be that way in your response, but still remain professional.

Written Follow-Up

Within a week after the first interview, a formal notice can be sent thanking the employer for the opportunity to be interviewed. It should state the interviewer’s name and reiterate your ability to do the job.  The letter does not need to go into detail or mention specific points.  The most effective way to do this is by e-mail especially if there was more than one interviewer.

Major Points

There are important ideas to express in the first follow-up. If you forgot something of interest at the interview, this provides the opportunity to present it. Provide recognition of what was covered in the interview. Reinforce interest in the position by stating you still want the job. Phrase your response in a way that shows confidence, enthusiasm, and motivation.

The Second Round

If a candidate is fortunate enough to advance to the next round of interviews, follow up contact is still necessary and is similar to follow-ups from the initial interview.  However, these contacts can be more brief than previous follow-ups,  as you become more familiar with the interviewers and the company. Too much contact can come off as being overbearing. While this expresses confidence in the early stages of the interview, it gets old after a while.

The Finish Line

You have made it to the final round of interviews! The interviewer may state that it is between you and one or more other candidates. Most hiring authorities will give a day by which a final decision will be made and you will be contacted either way. Sending a brief correspondence two or three days before decision time stating you are excited about the opportunity and what you can offer can still make an impression. Measure this response based on the tone of the whole process.

Want to find a great new career this year? Contact the professionals at Davis Staffing for part time and full time opportunities!

HR Tips: What To Include in New Employment Packets

November 13th, 2011

When a candidate is offered employment by an organization and accepts, an informal type of legal contract is created. The employee is providing work to the employer and the worker is paid for his or her service. However, there are other issues in the workplace that expand on this concept. New employees need to be made aware of what is expected of them and the rules and procedures of the employer.  A comprehensive new hire information packet serves this purpose.

Read on to learn what should be included in every new hire packet:

Introductory Letter

Most new employees are usually informed in writing that they have received an offer of employment. Sometimes, this may be in the form of a phone call or email. New employees when they first start should be given a letter of introduction. It should welcome them to the organization It should give information about the company and what they do so new employees have a feeling of inclusion in the workplace.

Employee Handbook

New employees should be given a company’s employee handbook to understand the policies and procedures of the organization. Information like this may or may not have been included in the interviews for their job. Information should include vacation policy, scheduled holidays, dress code, and other policies such as flex hours. A part of the handbook should be signed by the employee verifying they read and understood it. Individual companies can decide if these books need to be signed in the presence of a company representative.

Benefits Information

New employees need to be made aware of what kinds of benefits may be available. Health insurance programs should be presented in writing. The rates of different plans should be given based on rates for single individuals and families. If companies have policies for open enrollment periods, these need to be included. New hires should be advised when they are eligible for medical benefits.  If a company offers options like flex spending, this needs to be explained. Even if an employee is new retirement programs should be described.

Legal Employment Forms

There are forms that need to be completed as part of being an employee. Forms for tax purposes like the w-4 need to be filled out to see if the employee is single, married, and has dependents. People may have certain backgrounds that can benefit them and the employer. If a new employee is a veteran, federal benefits may be available to the employer. People with disabilities may need special accommodations that need to be explained.  This information needs to be treated with confidentiality.

A good introductory packet helps new employees understand what is required of them. It also helps them feel part of an organization. A comprehensive set of information backed up with knowledgeable staff that can answer any questions helps employees at the start of their career.

How to Prepare Your References During a Job Search

November 5th, 2011

Looking for a new job and want to present yourself in the best possible light as a candidate to potential employers? Then it’s time to not only revamp your resume and cover letter, but to get your references revved up!

As a serious contender, you should have at least 3-5 references, all of whom are people that either have worked directly with you or know your integrity as a career professional. References can be anyone from former managers and close co-workers, to mentors and peers. Just be sure that you prepare them in advance whenever they may be potentially contacted by a company.

Here’s how to prepare your references during a job search, for the best results.

Develop a Reference Sheet

It’s considered “old school” now to include the words “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of a resume. Instead, create a complete reference sheet to give to employers during the interview. List out your top 5 references in alphabetical order. Include each person’s full name and title, address, two telephone numbers and an email address. Be sure to get each references updated information and permission to include them at least once per year, when you do your annual resume updates.

Include Reference Letters

The sign of a professional still includes the use of several reference letters on company letterhead. Be sure to get this from all employers upon termination, from either a co-worker or your immediate supervisor. If you are fortunate, you can oftentimes write the recommendation letter yourself and have someone sign off on it. Or ask the HR department to furnish you with a reference letter that includes your job title, duties, achievements and dates of service.

Choose Your References Carefully

Your personal and professional references should not only be people who have first-hand knowledge of your work attributes, but also those who will make you look great to potential employers. Choose leaders in your past work environments, such as supervisors and executives. For personal references, choose people who have high standing in the community, such as college instructors, religious leaders, and professionals such as attorneys and doctors.

Call Your References

It’s always a good idea to keep in touch with your former references to make sure they are still available to comment on your qualities as a candidate. Additionally, you’ll want to get updates on their contact information, job titles and let them know when you are seriously searching for a new job. This ensures you have the best possible information and they will be ready when a call comes for their input.

Want to land a great job and develop best references? Consider all the advantages of working with a quality staffing agency like Davis Staffing Inc. by becoming part of our candidate team!

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