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Americans Seek Control Over Job Performance Reviews

When it comes to the top things Americans want real control over, it turns out that Uncle Sam and the Grim Reaper can take a backseat to job performance reviews, according to survey findings released last night by Taleo, a provider of on-demand talent management solutions.

The Taleo survey asked working Americans what they feel they have the most control over this year. The results skewed heavily toward job performance: 59 percent of American workers feel they have control over their job performance compared, respectively, to 39 percent who have their health in check and a mere 2 percent of Americans who feel they have control over how much they pay in taxes.

With nearly 80 percent of employed individuals stating dissatisfaction with their current performance review process, these findings bring to light a deep desire among the American workforce to influence, impact and improve how their performance reviews are managed. Employees want the performance review process to better reflect and reward their efforts at work.

Yet, in the toughest economy in decades, this survey shows that dissatisfaction isn't all about salary. In fact, demographics weigh into the priorities of American workers in terms of their perspectives on performance review priorities. And those priorities, in turn, are not entirely in sync with today's corporate attention on performance management.

• The number one CEO priority worldwide today is balancing talent retention with cost reduction. Many are approaching this by aligning individual and corporate goals and results to pay for performance. Indeed, of the 80 percent of employees who wanted to change something in their performance reviews, nearly one third (31 percent) agreed that they want their performance reviews tied to compensation. Interestingly, Americans in the moderate to high salary range (more than $35,000), drove this priority.

• A continual challenge in a business environment is to ensure fair, consistent performance reviews that represent a complete view of the employee's work: with feedback from peers, customers and managers. Twenty-one percent of the employees in this survey felt that fairness was the main thing they would change about their performance reviews. This response was driven by employees earning under $75,000 annually. Further, those without a college degree were twice as likely to put a priority on fairness.

• The regularity and timing of reviews is also in flux in American companies. In the past few years there has been an evolution from annual "anniversary" date reviews for each employee, toward annual or semi-annual full staff focal reviews that give senior management a better view of performance across the organization. Here again, demographics played a factor on employees' perspectives about more regular reviews:

-- 16 percent of workers would like their performance reviews to be conducted more often. The bulk of respondents in this category are people under the age of 45;

-- 11 percent of workers would like their job performance reviews to go away altogether. Most of these people either don't have dependents, or no longer have children who live at home.

"In the current economy, job performance is front and center of the corporate agenda. So it's not surprising that this is an area where American workers want to seize greater control," says Alice Snell, Vice President of Taleo Research. "With employees working hard and performing well to keep their jobs, companies need to not only know what their employees would like to get out of the performance management process, but also ensure they have effective and efficient processes in place to maximize workforce productivity and retain top talent within their organizations."