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Employee performance evaluation during COVID - a guide

Employee performance evaluation during COVID - a guide

Date : Sep 14, 2020

Running “business as usual” during a crisis like COVID-19 can be pretty challenging, since everything from communications to daily operations to employee performance tend to get disrupted. And in such a scenario, conducting employee work performance evaluation might seem like additional stress, as both employers and employees are dealing with their own sets of uncertainties and worries. The situation is different for every employee, as they are all working remotely and need your empathy and support to survive these tough times. However, if you approach the evaluation process the right way, your employees might feel encouraged to focus and achieve more. Their loyalty to you might get a boost as well, if you recognize their efforts.   

So, keep these following factors in mind to ensure a fair and sensible employee performance evaluation:

  • Why you want to conduct the evaluation – Identifying the purpose of the evaluation is important, as this will tell you how to implement it. Ideally, if you want to reinforce a positive company culture, evaluation shouldn’t be a technique to let go of weak performers. Senior managers and leaders should always help employees to turn their weaknesses into strengths. So, during COVID, if you are revising your company’s short and long term goals, make sure you convey the same to your employees during the evaluation, to see better results in future. 
  • Decide what exactly you wish to evaluate – Measuring performance is basically assessing if an employee was able to meet a goal successfully. However, it won’t be wise or fair to conduct performance evaluations against pre-COVID goals. Instead, you can examine how quickly they were able to adapt to the new normal, if they showed team spirit and empathy, and if they came up with innovative ideas to make remote working more productive.  
  • Be empathetic and understanding – As all or most of your employees might be working from home, they might have to juggle multiple responsibilities, like helping kids with homework, taking care of the elderly or the sick, or running errands. So, be compassionate and understand their circumstances, instead of focusing only on what they are delivering. Since COVID has affected many psychologically too, try to find out if your employees are feeling alright.
  • Rethink numerical ratings – In view of the pandemic, it is quite obvious that most of your employees might not be able to give their 100%. Hence, according to employee engagement consultants, numerical ratings can dampen their morale, adding on to the challenges they are facing at home. Instead, you can go for narrative assessments or a list of areas where he is doing well and areas in which he can improve with a little effort. Such evaluations can be more useful and easy to accept.  
  • Make video meetings warm and open Work performance evaluations should always be conveyed face to face, so that it seems respectful and humane. While this is not possible during the pandemic, you should go for video meetings to make communication easy, read body language better and set the right tone for your words.
  • Handle both poor and star performers intelligently – If an employee is performing below par, or poorer than usual, first understand that we all are battling an unprecedented pandemic. So, try and allow some grace period for them to get used to the new style of working and improve their weaknesses. On the other hand, when you are evaluating a star performer, make sure you recognize their contributions, talent and hard work, so that you can retain them. Praise and reassurance can give them a sense of certainty about their jobs, boosting their engagement and loyalty.   

All in all, evaluating employee performance during COVID needs empathy, understanding, a close look at why and what you are trying to measure, and how you can align your employees’ performance with your company goals. You can also hire an employee engagement consultant to guide you in the right direction during these tough times.