Performance Feedback Key to Employee Retention and Engagement

Business casual woman and man having a meeting

The ability to retain top talent can contribute greatly to a company’s success, but it can also pose one of the biggest challenges. Ensuring that employees feel productive, invested and appreciated will make them more likely to say “no” to other job offers and choose to stay on your team.

The risks of neglecting employee satisfaction can go far beyond creating a negative work environment. A 2017 study by The Engagement Institute found that disengaged employees cost companies between $450 and $550 billion a year.

So committing to a continuous feedback process that includes a well-thought-out annual performance review is crucial. Employees who are satisfied with the performance feedback process are more engaged and committed to the organization, and more likely to be retained, according to a recent Gallup study. And it’s a win-win for companies — the study also notes that companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors with the least engaged employees in categories including:

  • 10 percent higher customer ratings
  • 21 percent higher profitability
  • 20 percent higher productivity
  • 24 percent-59 percent lower turnover
  • 41 percent lower absenteeism
  • 40 percent fewer quality defects
Set the stage for honest and open communication

“The old saying that no news is good news is outdated,” notes Matt Brownlee, advanced sales training and development manager for Aerotek. “Today’s workforce wants feedback – positive and negative – on an ongoing basis so they can continue to improve and grow. Providing continual feedback throughout the year, culminating in an annual performance review, is a low-cost way for employers to help retain the best talent.”

Aerotek Learning and Development Manager Irina Hoffmeister further recommends ensuring you have a mix of both qualitative and quantitative feedback to share with the employee, the more specific the better. “You need to look at how this employee has performed in each of a range of responsibilities, especially as compared to industry and company standards. But you also have to assess how he or she has displayed the soft skills so crucial to today’s work environment.”

Brownlee agrees that the feedback should be directly tied to the desired behavior or outcome, and he also stresses that an annual review should never be the first time an employee learns of a performance problem or issue. Providing feedback and counsel “in the moment” is crucial to keeping employees on the right path, whereas annual reviews can use that information to illuminate the bigger picture and plan for the future.

Employment experts note that a poorly-planned review is often worse than none at all. Following a structured process helps ensure all the bases are covered and maximizes the opportunity for real communication.

Steps to prepare for a successful performance review
  1. Set a date for the review that allows both the manger and the employee enough advance notice to prepare. Choose a meeting location where you will be free of interruptions and distractions.
  2. At the same time, provide the employee with his or her current job description, a copy of last year’s review and a self-assessment form to fill out
  3. Prepare a draft review incorporating your thoughts from the year, as well as:
    1. Notes from any previous performance discussions
    2. Last year's performance review
    3. Goals, objectives and performance expectations
    4. Records of compliments and/or issues from the previous year
  4. Request feedback from other managers who worked with the employee

Taking the time to create a performance review that celebrates achievements and addresses employees’ career goals can go a long way toward maintaining employee engagement and retaining top talent.