The global shift in how we work has created a large number of work from home staff. With increasing numbers of today’s employees working from home, employee assessments can be more challenging. Instead of using your old standards of evaluation for telecommuters, use the opportunity to update your evaluation process for all employees.
Employee evaluations and annual performance reviews are such an integral part of an organization, given how they help assess an employee’s overall job performance and set goals for the future.
However, lately, with thousands of people working from home and the significant increase in telecommuting, also known as remote working, managers are finding it quite challenging to conduct annual employee assessments. The remote performance review isn’t just a challenge for Human Resources but for the entire performance management process for managers and each individual employee. For some, it could be a challenge giving the kind of feedback you typically give to rate an employee’s performance.
Given how there’s limited face-to-face interaction between employees and supervisors now and the increase in virtual communications, it’s not possible to use the same standards or models of employee evaluation.
However, that doesn’t mean managers and supervisors can’t use this as an opportunity to develop new, updated ways or methods for employee evaluation that are more suitable for the whole remote-working setup.
Consider the following best practices tips for telework evaluation that will help managers and supervisors conduct effective performance reviews for a virtual workforce.
1. Use a Consistent Template for Performance Evaluations
Use as much of the traditional office review template as you can when reviewing virtual employees, but remove factors that you can’t measure for remote workers and add unique factors that this type of work environment creates. Looking for an employee evaluation form? We have several performance review evaluation templates you can download.
2. How Do We Measure Reliability for a Work from Home Employee?
When an employee works from home or another location, companies need to know they can count on the individual to complete tasks on time and to remain available for certain hours of the day. Those who are chronically late or who consistently fall behind with their workloads may need a different work arrangement to succeed with the company.
3. Does the Remote Employee Have an Appropriate Workspace?
An employee may do some jobs well from any location that has an internet connection. However, others may need a distraction-free environment for phone calls and videoconferences in their workspaces.
4. Is the Remote Employee Feel Too Isolated?
In some cases, telework can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Working outside an actual office may mean less face-time and more hours working alone. Make sure that you consider team communication channels and ways to make a remote working environment more balanced.
5. Is the Quality and Level of Output Consistent with Company Goals?
This standard most closely follows traditional views of the workspace. A telecommuting employee should keep a certain level of productivity to maintain a successful status as a remote worker. Managers may have difficulty determining reasons for changes in productivity and the quality of work in remote workers.
6. Are There Any Drawbacks to Working from Home That You Cannot Effectively Address?
Take time to look at potential drawbacks to the telecommuter setup and discuss these factors with teleworkers regularly. Make sure that each feels comfortable reaching out for assistance, and provide each individual with support as necessary. A remote manager often has the difficult job of trying to gauge employee perspectives with a limited understanding of the employee.
7. Conduct the Evaluation in Person if Possible
If you can conduct a teleworking performance review in a face-to-face meeting, then do it. Seeing an employee’s reactions and having in-person contact will always be different from talking on the phone or videoconferencing.
8. Streamline Work Processes Between In-office and Remote Workers
If you manage a mixed team, make sure that communications and other processes are consistent across the board. Having access to unified collaboration tools can improve worker productivity, regardless of location, and may facilitate a manager’s ability to log employee activities for review.
9. Try Self-Evaluation Methods
Self-evaluation comprises of information and feedback that comes from the employees themselves. The idea of employing self-evaluation methods might come off as absurd, but the truth is that they are likely to help present a holistic view of a particular employee’s overall job performance and efficiency. Not just that, but these methods will give employees a chance to reflect on their own work and identify places where they need to work harder.
A self-evaluation performance review is a document that consists of 7-8 multiple choice questions followed by a couple of open-ended questions. Managers can use the information from this and compare it with their own reviews and understanding about the employee’s overall performance.
10. Consider Possible Drawbacks of Telecommuter Setup
Telecommuting does come with its fair share of drawbacks that you must consider to be able to determine if you can effectively address them or not. Take time out to note down potential drawbacks of a remote work setup and how these are affecting each employee. After all, ensuring comfort and ease for employees is also a part of the evaluation process.
11. How to Build Trust with Team Members
Trust is a key aspect of employee evaluation, and it becomes even more essential when it comes to telework evaluation. You want your employees to trust you so that they can communicate with you freely without feeling any kind of hesitation.
This makes it easier for them to voice their concerns, open up about possible struggles they might be facing at the workplace and talk to you about things. This, in turn, allows supervisors and managers to give honest feedback to the employees in a much calmer, relaxed manner, and the chances are that your employees will be open to receiving criticism without feeling negative. This coming year, the best way, according to recent surveys, to help a remote team learn to communicate on a regular basis and improve team productivity is building trust. The great work you do to improve employee retention will also meet employee needs and make a striking different an employee’s performance.
12. Keep Giving Regular Feedback
Generally, employee evaluation takes place once or twice a year, but with remote working conditions, it might be better for supervisors to give regular feedback. It would be even better if you can manage to provide feedback to your employees ahead of time.
A key advantage of this that it will bridge the communication gap in your virtual workforce, and real-time feedback will help your employees to continually better their performance so that they are right on track. Keep in mind: an employee performance review is just one part of performance management. You must look at the bigger picture of the employee performance review process and the best ways to improve employee engagement to result in career development. Professional development isn’t easy, but as HR professionals will tell you, the annual review plays an important role as a part of the ongoing process to help an employee with personal growth.
Frequent feedback sessions also help managers keep a closer track of what and how well each employee is doing, which ultimately makes it easier for them to manage remote employees in a much better way.
13. Ensure Two-Way Dialogue
A performance review in which you bombard your employees with information and feedback isn’t likely to do anyone any good. You must create a two-way conversation where you provide feedback, and they tell you’re their concerns, struggles, and positives of working remotely. Frequent communication via phone call or video chat can help keep the lines of communication open during this challenging time.
14. Create an Employee Evaluation Template
Since remote working has different needs and requirements in terms of work, managers need to design a customized employee evaluation template that fulfills all those necessities. Creating custom ratings and feedback provides additional support for everyone from poor performers to team leaders.
Such a template will help you document employee performance and will also ensure that you’re able to conduct a highly focused performance review. You can review everything in your template from the rating scale to 360-degree feedback. You could even share the template with the employees beforehand so that they know what to expect.
15. Make Use of Video Conferencing Tools
Teleworking comes with an increased use of online tools, so why not use them to your advantage when it comes to employee evaluation?
There are so many video conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype through which you can conduct annual meetings to ensure a more personal experience both for you and the employee and also to facilitate an honest and completely transparent communication process. It also helps you read body language and connect with direct reports to discuss past performance to setup a chance for a good review.
16. Create a Well-Timed Schedule
If you run a whole team and have several employees working under you, it is best if you create a well-timed schedule where you allot a decent amount of time to each employee to conduct the performance appraisal and leave enough time in the end for discussion. This schedule will help you do the evaluations one by one, and to avoid any kind of discrepancy in the process, make sure to share the timetable or schedule with all your employees so that they are ready in time for their turn.
17. Consider Peer Feedback
Remote working is challenging as it is given how isolating it can be for many people.
According to Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work Report, one of the biggest struggles of teleworking is loneliness, especially in terms of collaboration and communication.
So, to prevent that from happening, you can consider collecting peer feedback as part of the employee evaluation process because it will help create some kind of engagement between the employees.
It is essential to note here that workers aren’t likely to provide feedback about their colleagues very openly, so you could seek help from platforms like Honestly and Culture Amp to collect anonymous but valuable information about the people.
18. Be Specific and Explicit
Clarity is key for employee evaluations and especially with telework evaluations. You can’t afford to waste time in ambiguity, so try to be as specific and transparent as possible.
19. Always Show Appreciation
Appreciation and positivity are two essential factors for employees’ overall morale and confidence levels, so it’s essential that you give credit where it’s due and praise them for working hard.
20. How Do I Keep Track of a Remote Staffs’ Performance?
One of the biggest downsides of remote working for managers is that they often tend to lack awareness given the virtual nature of work. They are also unable to manage to have a complete overview of how well the employees are doing.
So, in order to conduct a successful employee evaluation, it is best to keep track of productivity, collaboration, teamwork, and everything in between by doing more one-on-one and online group meetings on a regular basis.
This will help managers stay on top of everything and be aware of what’s going on in terms of work on an individual level.
Performance reviews are already a stressful process for managers and supervisors, and when you have to conduct them in a remote setup, it can become even more challenging.
However, it is nothing impossible, and if you keep the above tips on telework evaluation in consideration, you will be able to get through it without any issues.