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Half of employees dread or indifferent to appraisals

Almost half of all UK employees (49%) are either indifferent to or dread their performance reviews, according to research from Cezanne HR

In the poll 16% admitted to ‘usually dreading’ or ‘always dreading’ performance reviews. Of these, 64% reported ‘finding the process uncomfortable’ or ‘believing [appraisals] to be a waste of time’.

Indifference to performance appraisals was found across the board (33% of employees) but grew in line with age and length of service.

Nearly half (45%) of all Baby Boomers said they were indifferent. This compared to 34% of 45- to 54-year-olds. Younger employees replied reasonably positively, with 31% of 25- to 34-year-olds 'sometimes looking forward' to appraisals and 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds also 'sometimes looking forward' to appraisals.

Meanwhile two in five (39%) workers who had been with their company for at least five years reported apathy towards appraisals. Thirty-four per cent of those who had been at their company three to five years 'sometimes look forward' to appraisals, with this figure the same for those with a one- to two-year tenure, and 33% for those who had been at their organisation for two to three years.

The research also found that one in four (24%) UK employees have never had a performance review in their current organisation, and more than one in 10 (14%) have never had an appraisal at all. Of these, more than two-thirds (68%) feel they would benefit from having a documented performance review.

More encouragingly, 72% of employees said they would feel comfortable discussing work/life balance issues during a performance review. However, only 49% of respondents said they would feel comfortable discussing their mental health, though this increased to 59% in the 18 to 24 age bracket.

The research, which polled 1,000 employees across the UK in October 2019, comes a week after the Office for National Statistics’ labour productivity bulletin revealed that UK productivity fell by 0.5% between April and June 2019.

Sue Lingard, a director at Cezanne HR, said that apathy towards appraisals among the UK workforce is a cause for concern. “This widespread indifference towards performance reviews in the face of a UK-wide productivity issue should be a wake-up call to business leaders," she said. "For the most part employees want to do a good job, but they need clear goals and to feel invested in – whether that be by unlocking access to new training or other career progression opportunities.”

Lingard added: “By setting clear and attainable performance goals and ensuring regular, constructive and future-focused performance conversations organisations will create the most optimum environment for ongoing performance improvement and productivity.”