Report: The death of the performance review

Recent coverage in the general and HR media has reported some high-profile decisions to abandon or replace the traditional performance review. At the Future Work Centre, our focus is on establishing the evidence supporting organisational decisions, so this news was of interest to us.

We wanted to understand whether these decisions were actually underpinned by evidence and data, or whether organisations might be engaging in an HR-related fad. Consider the potential negative outcomes of changing how employees’ performance – and therefore reward – is assessed. We therefore thought it prudent to examine the evidence for the performance review and share our findings to facilitate evidence-based decisions.

We undertook a rapid evidence review and an analysis of the trends in the uses of performance review. We looked for robust research and credible case studies that provided quality, reliable and generalisable evidence of what’s really going on when organisations carry out performance reviews. We also examined what the HR press has been saying about this topic, to identify trends in the performance review ‘narrative’.

This resulting analysis is unlikely to be perfect – there is no such thing as perfect evidence after all – but our review enables us to generate solid conclusions that should provide a springboard for informed discussions about what you do in your organisation.