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New Reflektive Research Indicates Unfair Performance Reviews Prompt Most Employees to Consider Quitting

Importance of frequent, accurate and unbiased feedback suggests non-monetary retention strategies work

Reflektive, the leading people management platform, has released new research revealing that 85% of American professionals would at least consider leaving a job after an unfair job review; more than half are either “very likely” or “extremely likely” to do so. More than one-third of the group of 1,000 full-time workers said the thing they are least likely to tolerate in the workplace is an inaccurate performance review. Another quarter of respondents believe they were passed over for a promotion based on a review that did not accurately reflect their actual performance. And survey results suggest that bias is a leading contributor to this problem.

“Creating a culture of feedback that implements a modernized performance review structure based on data helps to eliminate these costly problems.”

“Employees crave accurate, growth-oriented feedback – and they don’t want to wait until an annual job review to get it,” said Rachel Ernst, vice president of employee success at Reflektive. “When employees receive regular attention, recognition and guidance on how to improve from their managers, they tend to be more engaged and productive. They often stay with their employers longer and work harder, decreasing recruitment and retention costs.”

Pay increases and perks are important to retention – but there’s more to the story

Keeping up with the Joneses is a primary driver of business professionals’ motivations. The majority of employees (58%) said money is the most important factor in choosing an employer. The same share said benefits and vacation packages are at the top of their employer must-have lists. However, the next two top reasons – that were chosen by more than half of respondents – include growth potential and meaningful work.

Money and promotions – or lack thereof – are unsurprisingly among the leading reasons business professionals quit their jobs. But that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Nearly a quarter (24%) of the survey group said they want to quit their current jobs, with “not feeling valued” and “not being paid enough” tied (at 34%) as the top reasons why. Not having adequate opportunities for advancement was selected by 31% of the survey group.

Pay and perks are not the sole way to engage and retain top talent. Frequent check-ins allow employers to understand the goals and motivations of their employees, which they can leverage to keep them happy, productive and engaged. They also provide employees with insight into how they’re doing and how they can grow.

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Employees want validation and direction

A whopping 92% of survey participants said they prefer to receive feedback more often than once a year during an annual performance review. Nearly half (49%) want formal feedback conversations with their manager at least weekly, and 72% said at least monthly. When asked what they like best about reviews:

  • 64% said reviews give them helpful feedback
  • 45% said reviews provide them with good face time with their manager(s)
  • 41% said reviews clarify what they need to do to get promoted

Yet 54% said they have been passed over for a promotion for a reason that was not clear to them. Of the respondents who knew why, nearly a quarter believe they were passed over for a promotion based on a review that did not accurately reflect their performance. More than 36% blame changes in management, while 28% blame favoritism.

Performance reviews can be a win-win – or they can go terribly wrong

When it comes to performance reviews, employers and managers must prioritize providing employees with accurate, growth-oriented feedback. This process becomes much easier to scale with a dedicated technology or system to encourage real-time, continuous feedback, which also minimizes bias that contributes to inaccurate or incomplete reviews. When reviews are perceived as inaccurate, employees can become frustrated – sometimes even enraged – increasing the likelihood that they will leave their jobs and retaliate against their former employers. Of those planning to quit, more than half (51%) said they intend to do so in a “blaze of glory.”

  • 78% said that means creating an “I Quit” video for social media
  • 18% said they plan to bad-mouth their coworkers, boss or company
  • 12% said they expect to expose company secrets

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Frequent, holistic performance reviews help ensure accuracy

These actions may seem over the top, but they’re not completely outside the realm of possibility. It is clear that employers must recognize the importance of providing accurate, transparent and unbiased performance reviews.

And the Reflektive survey results indicate bias is a real problem, as 68% of survey respondents reported letting bias impact a performance review – and that just accounts for those willing to admit it. Employees are often guilty of introducing bias, too. Half of the survey respondents admitted to enhancing their performance in the weeks leading up to their performance reviews.

“Without frequent and well-rounded feedback, bias creeps in, and people become disengaged and consider leaving their companies,” Ernst said. “Creating a culture of feedback that implements a modernized performance review structure based on data helps to eliminate these costly problems.”

Senior HR leaders can learn more at Reflektive’s Illuminate Roadshow

Senior human resources leaders who want to gain a deeper understanding of how to improve manager-employee relationships can request an invitation to Reflektive’s Illuminate roadshows – half-day spinoff events of the annual conference for people leaders, by people leaders.

Illuminate Austin will take place on Tuesday, July 23 at South Congress Hotel. The speaker lineup includes leaders from Bumble, Favor Delivery, Modernize, Snag, Shift Positive and YETI. Illuminate Chicago will be held on Thursday, July 25 at the Ace Hotel Chicago. This event will feature speakers from Brad’s Deals, Cheetah Digital, MERGE, Snag and UL.

“HR and people management are constantly evolving,” noted Ernst, who will speak at both Illuminate events. “It’s important to connect frequently with peers to discuss best practices and key learnings so both employers and employees have the best possible experiences and outcomes.”

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