Organizational Wellness

Create Top-Notch Employee Evaluations

May 9, 2023
Last Updated May 20, 2024

If you send a project to your boss or a deliverable to your client, but they never say anything, how did the project go? You might never know. It could be great, or there could have been a lot of space for improvement. You’ll never know, and that can be discouraging. 

The reverse is true too: people who get regular feedback can avoid a performance slump. Not only do people have real-time guidance to shape their work, they’re likely going to feel more engaged as a result: In 2022, Gallup found that people who got feedback from their managers in the last week were four times more likely to be engaged with their work. 

How can you make sure your team is getting the feedback they need and crave? How do you keep your performance management improving? One great way is to utilize employee evaluations. We’ll dive into employee evaluations, why they’re important, the benefits, and how to get started.

What Is an Employee Evaluation? 

Employee evaluations are a tool used by managers to assess an employee's progress and performance in their role. It’s an opportunity for managers to provide feedback to their team about their work and to set goals for the future. Employee evaluations can also be referred to as performance reviews or worker evaluations, depending on the company. Evaluations are often done every quarter or every year, but it’s up to your organization to decide how often you want to evaluate performance. Some popular ways worker evaluations happen include: 

  • Annual performance reviews
  • Informal but regular 1:1 meetings
  • Self-evaluations
  • 360 evaluations with feedback from throughout the organization

Why Are Employee Evaluations Important? 

Employee evaluations are an essential tool to facilitate communication of expectations, goals, and boundaries between team members and managers. It’s a great chance for leaders to check in with their teams and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Evaluations provide an opportunity for managers to give feedback to employees on their performance, set expectations for future work, and identify areas for improvement. The evaluation process helps to establish clear goals and objectives for each individual, providing a roadmap for success in their role.

Evaluations aren’t punishment; they’re a way to create growth and help your team succeed. 

Benefits of Employee Evaluations

Employee evaluations are important, and they provide great benefits for your organization. The benefits are numerous, but here are a few key advantages that show just how powerful employee evaluations can be: 

  • Providing clear expectations is one of the most significant benefits of employee evaluations. Evaluations serve as a platform to clearly define performance standards, goals, and objectives with your team members. As a result, everyone can better understand what is expected of them and how they can excel in their roles. With these expectations set, your team can work towards meeting these standards. 
  • Effective goal setting is another important benefit of employee evaluations. Goal setting helps employees focus on tasks that align with their job responsibilities and the company’s goals. In fact, setting goals can boost motivation, keep everyone accountable, quantify success, and even help your team feel more fulfilled at work. When managers collaborate with their teams to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals, they can track their progress and set realistic expectations. And employee evaluations are a great time to sit down with your team and set these goals. 
  • Creating a space for honest feedback is also crucial to the success of employee evaluations. By providing a comfortable and safe environment for employees to share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns, managers can gain valuable insights into their employees’ experiences in the workplace. With an opportunity for honest feedback, employees are 80% more likely to report higher wellbeing. Honest feedback can highlight areas of improvement and potential growth opportunities.
  • Employee evaluations also promote better communication, as managers and teams engage in ongoing conversations regarding expectations, goals, and performance. These regular conversations can improve communication within your teams as they allow employees to stay up-to-date on their progress and receive feedback on their performance in real time. 
  • Employee evaluations also boost employee satisfaction through recognition. How do they improve satisfaction? Recognition can be key. It can take many forms, such as verbal praise, bonuses, or promotions, and can have a significant impact on employee morale and motivation. When managers recognize their employees’ accomplishments and hard work, they are likely to feel more appreciated, valued, and satisfied in their jobs. With improved recognition, organizations have 31% less voluntary turnover. 
  • Providing employees with growth opportunities is another important benefit of employee evaluations. Evaluations can highlight areas where employees can improve their skills and knowledge, leading to growth opportunities such as training and development programs. And your team wants growth opportunities — 94% of workers would stay with their company longer if the organization invested in their careers.. 
  • Employee evaluations also lead to improved performance. When employees receive regular feedback and clear expectations, they can better understand their roles and responsibilities and work towards achieving their goals. That leads to improved performance. This ongoing evaluation and feedback can help your team identify areas for improvement and make changes to their performance, leading to better outcomes.
  • Enhanced profitability is also a benefit of employee evaluations. When employees meet or exceed expectations and goals, the company's performance and profitability can improve. Now that’s a win!
  • Finally, creating a positive work culture is a significant benefit of employee evaluations. When managers prioritize ongoing communication, recognition, and growth opportunities, employees feel valued and supported. This positive dialogue can improve work culture. Work culture matters for so many reasons, not the least of which being that 93% of workers believe their wellbeing is just as important as their salary. Taking the time to have employee evaluations and help create a positive work culture by keeping communication open.

How Often Should Employee Evaluations Be Done? 

Traditionally, companies conducted employee evaluations annually. Today, however, more and more companies are moving to more frequent evaluations so employees have growth opportunities multiple times a year. More frequent evaluations provide a better understanding between both parties and can help identify and address any issues before they become more significant problems.

Ultimately, the evaluation timeline is up to you and what works for your team. Evaluations can be done quarterly, monthly, or even weekly—depending on the company's size and resources. But, given their utility, it’s likely beneficial to have additional review cycles beyond annual evaluations.

Key Elements of Employee Evaluations

What makes up an employee evaluation? There are so many things you can do during an, but we’re going to walk you through three elements that are foundational to create great evaluations: performance standards review, setting SMART goals, and creating a consistent meeting schedule. 

During the performance standards review, managers should evaluate how well the employee met the performance expectations and provide feedback on what went well and what could be improved during the next review cycle. This gives employees direction for their development efforts.

A good review then takes that feedback and uses it to create goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, which help employees understand what they need to accomplish and how their progress will be measured.

Finally, creating a consistent meeting schedule ensures that feedback is regularly provided, goals are adjusted as needed, and progress is continually tracked. While there’s no perfect timeline for reviews, a best timeline is one you decide on with your team so it works for everyone’s workflow.

Tips for Conducting Employee Evaluations

So now that we’ve covered all the basics of employee evaluations, how do you actually have a great evaluation? Here are a few tips that can help you get started with employee evaluations. 

  • Write everything down. During an employee evaluation, it is crucial to write everything down. This provides a record that can be referenced later, which will help both the team member and the manager to track progress over time. Writing everything down also ensures that nothing is forgotten and that both parties have a clear understanding of what was discussed during the evaluation. It’s a way to make sure that everyone is on the same page. 
  • Be honest and specific. Managers should be honest and specific during employee evaluations. Remember that honesty includes giving positive feedback. Employees need praise: about 37% of employees say they’ll work harder if they’re praised. Still, honesty also requires discussing areas where the team member can improve. Specific examples should be given to illustrate the points being made, as concrete illustrations can help to prevent any misunderstandings.
  • Avoid comparison. Nobody likes hearing about somebody doing better than them. Nobody wants to hear how their team member is “so much better” at this or “excelling” at that. So keep comparisons out of it. Comparing employees to one another during evaluations can be counterproductive and can create resentment among employees. Evaluations should focus solely on the individual employee's performance and progress. Comparisons should only be between an individual’s current performance and their past performance. 
  • Make the employee comfortable. Employee evaluations can be stressful, so take some time and make everyone feel comfortable during the process. There are so many ways to do this: managers might encourage dialogue, they might chat about the employee’s thoughts for a while, or they might let the employee provide feedback for them. 

Example Evaluation Questions

With those tips in mind, let’s dive into some example evaluation questions that can be used during an employee evaluation:

  • Do you feel that you met your goals for this period?
  • How would you rate your overall performance over the past quarter/year?
  • What areas do you feel you excelled in and what areas do you think you need to improve?
  • How have you grown professionally since our last evaluation?
  • What support or resources do you need from me or the organization to help you be more successful?
  • Are there any new skills or training opportunities you would like to pursue?
  • What do you think are your key strengths?
  • What do you find most challenging about your job?
  • How can I better support you in your role?
  • Are there any changes or improvements you would like to see in the workplace culture or company policies?

The Bottom Line

Employee evaluations are an essential tool for managers. They allow them to assess employee progress and performance, and to provide feedback to help team members meet expectations and goals. They can be a part of mindful leadership, and great employee evaluations help your organization provide your team with chances to grow and improve. This can improve profitability, and even boost performance — people care about companies that care about them.

Ready to get started with great evaluations and other tools to help you create a work culture centered on helping employees thrive? Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist today. 

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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