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Performance Appraisal Undergoes a Transformation During Covid-19

The last one year has seen a radical shift in the way appraisal processes are being conducted across organizations. HR professionals are working hard to balance out the constant struggle between employee expectations and setbacks that are being faced with the onslaught of COVID-19.

Despite teetering bottom lines, companies are making an all-out effort to ensure that yearly performance appraisals are being conducted so as to distinguish between average and high-performing employees. The pandemic has bought to the fore major changes some of which are being implemented as below:

  1. Virtual Appraisals- With lockdowns being instituted in countries world-wide, companies are quickly switching over to an appraisal process that can be done virtually. Performance evaluation meetings are now being held online with the reporting managers to discuss growth over the last one year. Criteria for performance appraisals are being made flexible as the work from environment has caused setbacks in the performance of employees.
  2. Criteria Relaxation – Several challenges are being faced by employees as they are switching over to virtual learning, virtual processes and cloud tools. This has led to a major upheaval in the work of employees. Thus, certain relaxations in performance standards are being observed.
  3. Pay and Bonus parity – Adverse working conditions are also coaxing employers to institute parity in pay hike and the distribution of bonuses. This ensures overall employee satisfaction.
  4. Providing Growth Prospects – Many organizations such as e-commerce and EdTech companies witnessed rapid growth during the pandemic. These companies made it a point to conduct timely appraisals. Their people grew along with their businesses.

SHRM opines that this is the time for companies to exercise prudence and manage their manpower in such a way that there is no loss in continuity of business operations. It’s important that people stay united and focused during a crisis. As HR grapples with the ugly realities of the pandemic, many are unsure of how to manage performance appraisals and reviews. Here are some pointers.


The purpose behind performance appraisals is to follow a systematic process that not only helps to effectively manage individuals and teams but also gauge their performance over a period of time. Good management principles help to create alignment and a shared understanding of principles that permit teams to develop, learn and become successful.

Performance evaluation best practices help in the framing of common behavior and skills that are needed in order to get a job done. These also help to discern between average and high-performing employees. Thus the gap in skills or learning can be assessed and necessary metrics applied to close this gap. Lastly, evaluations form a cornerstone for bonuses, pay hikes and promotions.


The decision to conduct performance evaluations can be readily arrived at by following a framework. By answering these three simple questions, a decision can be arrived at whether or not to continue with performance appraisals:

  • Is the process for performance reviews established in a systematic and fair manner?
  • Have there been no layoffs in the company? Is a large part of the work force still employed?
  • Are bonuses closely tied to good performance appraisals

A yes to the first two questions essentially means that the organization is in good shape in terms of growth and business is continuing as usual. If No, then perhaps this would be a good time to include a different approach to evaluations that focus on goal setting with ongoing performance feedback.


A review to evaluate the performance of an employee is a thoughtful and painstaking process – From writing out your assessments, arguing your performance and giving a summary of your ratings, this can seem herculean for reporting managers right in the middle of a pandemic. With steps such as pay hikes and bonuses to be awarded, it is a tricky tightrope to walk for managers.

Abandoning them altogether might appear beneficial in the context of the pandemic, however this could lead to the loss of critical business if employees decide to jump ship and root for another organization. Further, below average employees tend to lose out as their abysmal performance does not get identified. This could cause them to flounder with goals becoming stagnant. Having an appraisal system in place allows for greater objectivity and training to meet shortfalls.


For Appraisals to be successful during a pandemic, a decision can be taken by the management to lighten up the load as people adjust to a remote working environment. Between juggling the care giving, employees can be less burdened through assignment sharing and re-setting expectations around work timings, priorities and responsiveness towards tasks. Working in a cohesive and collaborative fashion helps. People pick up the slack; achieve goals, everyone works together and performance improves for the entire team as a whole.


Depending on how mature your organization’s performance management process is, it is essential to adapt to suit the changes that have come in owing to the pandemic. It is imperative for management to foster an environment where employees feel free to not only adapt to their daily work but are also able to communicate their vision of a shared goal. In times of uncertainty, development opportunities through performance appraisals will ensure business continuity, happy employees and company success.


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