Performance reviews: how to use them efficiently and effectively (downloadable template)

Performance reviews are an important element of employee development but are often seen as a tick-box exercise with little value. Our downloadable template will help you review the performance of your team members more efficiently and effectively.

5 minute read
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9 months ago

Annual appraisals are supposedly dead – but this is only true because once a year is not enough to effectively evaluate your employees. We explore how to optimise your performance reviews to grow your team.

Employers are not required by law to conduct appraisals and reviews, but they do benefit all parties. If all the feedback you give your team members is through one annual appraisal, you’re doing your team a disservice and aren’t unlocking their full potential. Feedback should be far more regular to match the fast-paced environments we now work in.

The value of appraisals

Recently, appraisals have been considered a dying practice by many employers who deem it a tick-box exercise with little value. However, when done well, and more frequently, these reviews are crucial for the development of your employees and have multiple benefits for both parties:

-       Ensuring employees understand their role and your expectations for them

-       Determining to what extent employees are meeting those expectations

-       Providing support and having an honest two-way discussion

-       Acknowledging and rewarding good performance

-       Nurturing your employees’ career progression

-       Increasing engagement and longevity

A manager’s responsibility is to empower their people to do their work to the best of their ability and nurture their successes. Performance reviews are a chance to engage team members with regular, one-to-one, honest discussions. It’s not only a chance for the professional to receive feedback from you, but an opportunity for them to raise any concerns they have and to tell you what support they might need.

Without appraisals, employees will still be evaluated, but without the same transparency and objectivity. It will simply exclude employees from the process. This could make them feel out of control of their own futures and unaware of what they can do to improve. Providing honest feedback, even if it is a hard conversation to have, allows them the opportunity to upskill themselves and for you to show you want to help them improve.

Conducting a successful performance review

Firstly, all parties involved need to understand the process and why it’s being conducted in the first place. What do you want to achieve from this meeting? Appraisals need to be structured to be effective. Performance template examples, like the template we have designed, can help you with this.

Every appraisal should:

Be as regular as your team needs it to be – The regularity of your performance reviews will depend entirely on your company, team and management style. With most companies changing much more rapidly, and employees learning in more fast-paced environments, annual appraisals will not be as useful as a more regular performance review. When it comes to feedback, little and often is the way to go.

You might decide that once a month is best for your team members. However, it’s best to be flexible, and if monthly reviews aren’t working for individuals, try checking in with them more regularly than others. It’s all about the employee and your own judgement.

Provide effective feedback – Fundamentally, all feedback must be honest and constructive. Without honesty, it will have no value to the person receiving it – positive or negative. Whether their performance has been excellent or less than satisfactory, you need to advise them on the next steps they should take to improve or grow further. All feedback must focus on the future and how your employee can move forward, rather than dwelling on past failures or becoming complacent following their successes.

Set SMART goals – One of the most common mistakes employers make is setting vague goals. Employers must provide their employees with SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals, that they can focus on achieving ahead of their next review. For example, you may want one of your employees to ‘make more sales’ but this doesn’t give them guidance or direction on how to achieve what you want them to.

To turn this into a smart goal, it might become something like: ‘make eight sales a month, for six months, until you reach 48 sales by the end of this year’. Outlining the main goal, and the smaller steps they need to take to achieve their goals by a set deadline is much better for motivation and productivity. It’s also easier to measure and help them to stay on track to achieve their overall goal.

Be a rewarding experience for employees – Appraisals should be an experience employees look forward to. They should leave feeling that their hard work and progress since the last review has been acknowledged and rewarded by their employer. If the response hasn’t been so positive, they should leave with an awareness of how to improve, through honest and constructive feedback and SMART goals.

Be personalised to individuals – Each member of your team will have a different way of working and different needs. This should be accounted for in your performance reviews. Ideally, you would have a standardised performance review template that can be adapted to each person in your team. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work.

If any of your team members have health issues which are affecting their work, take that into consideration and do your best to support them. It is illegal to discriminate against someone for their protected characteristics such as disabilities or neurodivergence. Likewise, be mindful of any personal issues your employee may be struggling with that may have a short-term impact on their performance. You must provide reasonable adjustments where possible to help them improve their performance.

 

Download our free performance review templateto help you ensure your next review has a positive impact on your employees.

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​Making redundancies is never a pleasant experience, but it’s sometimes unavoidable and employers need to ensure they navigate the process with sensitivity and professionalism, and adhere to the law, or they may face employment tribunals and unfair dismissal claims.

A redundancy letter is a written communication from an employer to an employee that informs them of their job loss due to a reduction in the workforce. To help employers manage this process and ensure they provide employees with clear and concise information, we have compiled a selection of adaptable redundancy letter templates for the various stages of the redundancy procedure.

When would you need to write a redundancy letter?

Employers may have to write redundancy letters in the following circumstances: 

Economic downturns

During a time of economic decline or recession, businesses may experience a reduction in revenue, leading to reduced demand for their products or services. In such circumstances, businesses may look to reduce their workforce to cut costs. 

Restructuring

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Technological advancements

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What is the difference between voluntary and compulsory redundancy?

Voluntary redundancy is when an employer offers an employee the option to leave their job in exchange for a financial package, which could include a lump sum payment, extended notice period, and other benefits. Employees who accept voluntary redundancy do so voluntarily, and their decision is not influenced by their employer.

In contrast, compulsory redundancy is when an employer selects an employee to leave their job due to a reduction in the workforce, restructuring, or other reasons. Employees who are made redundant involuntarily do not have a choice in the matter and may be entitled to statutory redundancy pay and other benefits.

What are the stages of a redundancy process? 

The redundancy process can be broken down into stages and logical steps that employers can follow. The stages are: preparation, selection, individual consultations, notice of redundancy, appeals (if applicable), and termination.

Stage one: Preparation

During the preparation stage, you will assess whether redundancy is the only option and is completely necessary before beginning the process. If you are concerned with your employee’s performance or behaviour, then you should go down the disciplinary route instead.

Redundancy is a type of dismissal where the employee’s job is no longer required. Ensure that you have covered all alternative options and if you have concluded that redundancy is essential, establish a time frame and prepare the relevant documentation.

Stage two: Selection

At this stage, you will be selecting the people who are under consideration for redundancy. You’ll need to determine the criteria for selecting those employees which should be objective and fair across the workforce.

Additionally, now is the time to inform employees of the upcoming redundancies. This should also include those who are not under consideration. You should explain that there is the risk of redundancy, the reason why it’s necessary, roughly how many redundancies you're considering, and what will happen next.

Stage three: Individual consultations

The consultations stage is a hugely important part of the redundancy process, and it’s essential that employers look at this as an open discussion with the employee, rather than using this time to just inform them of their potential redundancy.

You should explain why they have been selected and discuss alternative employment in the company. Employees will have the chance to make suggestions as to how the business can retain them and these suggestions should be considered fairly, or the employer may face unfair dismissal claims.

Note: there are legal time frames regarding consultations, so make sure you adhere to these.

Stage four: Notice of redundancy

Once you have finished consulting with everyone and made your decision, you should meet with each at-risk employee to discuss the outcome. Ideally, do this face to face, but if this is not possible, organise a phone call.

Those who have been selected for redundancy should also receive confirmation in writing, by letter or email. We have included a redundancy notice letter template for your ease.

Stage five: Appeals

If an employee feels they have been unfairly chosen for redundancy or if they think there were discriminatory issues in the process, it is essential to offer them the opportunity to appeal within a reasonable time frame after they have received their redundancy notice. This could be, for instance, five days. The employee should submit their reasons for appeal in writing. Once you receive an appeal, you should arrange a meeting with the employee as soon as possible.

If it becomes clear that the employee was selected unfairly but you still need to make the role redundant, you must manage the situation with great care. This could mean ending the employment of another employee who was informed their job was secure. It is important to communicate clearly and openly with your staff, rectify any issues with the process, and ensure a fair selection procedure is carried out. If serious problems are identified, you may need to repeat the entire redundancy process.

If you decide to reject the appeal, the employee's redundancy dismissal, notice, and pay will continue as before.

Stage six: Termination

This is the final stage of the redundancy process where the employment contract is terminated. During this stage, you should be supportive and give your employee reasonable time to find another job while they work their notice period.

All employees who have been with the company for more than two years qualify for a statutory redundancy payment. Provide the employees with a written record of how the statutory redundancy payment has been calculated and what they will receive.

What should be included in a redundancy letter?

The redundancy letter to the employee should clearly state the reasons for the employment termination and the terms of their departure. Here are some key pieces of information that should be included in a redundancy letter:

  • Reason for redundancy: The letter should clearly state the reasons for the redundancy, such as economic downturn, restructuring, or technological advancements.

  • Selection criteria: Employers should explain the selection criteria used to determine which employees are being made redundant. This could include factors such as length of service, skills and qualifications, and job performance.

  • Notice period: Employers should provide details of the employee's notice period, including the start and end dates, as well as any entitlements to pay in lieu of notice.

  • Redundancy pay: The letter should provide information on the employee's entitlement to statutory redundancy pay, as well as any additional redundancy pay provided by the employer.

  • Benefits: Employers should explain what happens to the employee's benefits, such as healthcare, pension, and life insurance, after they leave.

  • Support: Employers should offer support to the employee during this difficult time, including assistance with finding new employment opportunities and access to training programmes.

To help you navigate this challenging process, we have put together a selection of redundancy letter templates that can be used at various stages throughout the process. These include:

  • Redundancy consultation letter

  • Redundancy consultation outcome letter

  • Invitation to redundancy outcome meeting letter

  • Notice of redundancy letter