How HR Can Battle Bias Within Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are an integral part of any organization. They are ways to evaluate employee performance and provide feedback. 

However, they can also be a source of bias in the workplace. 

Bias in performance reviews can occur when an individual’s gender, race, religion, or other factors are taken into consideration when evaluating them. This can have severe consequences for the organization as it can lead to unfair treatment of employees and create an environment where diversity and inclusion are not valued. In this article, we will explore what bias in performance reviews is, how it impacts organizations, and what steps organizations can take to mitigate its effects.

If Reviews Invite Bias, Why Do We Need Them?

Performance reviews are necessary to evaluate and provide feedback on an employee’s job performance, identify areas for improvement, set goals and objectives, and establish plans for development and growth. They can help employees and employers align expectations, improve communication, and enhance productivity and job satisfaction. They are also often used to determine promotions, salary increases, and other forms of recognition or rewards.

Without reviews, employees can feel lost, and employers might not understand their workforce- which can lead to resentment, failure to thrive, and overall business struggles.

What Kinds of Bias Do We See in the Workplace?

Several types of biases can affect performance reviews in the workplace. Here are a few examples:

  1. Gender bias: This can occur when men and women are evaluated differently based on stereotypes or assumptions about their abilities, behavior, or performance.
  2. Recency bias: This happens when the most recent events or behaviors are given more weight in the evaluation than earlier ones, leading to an inaccurate or incomplete performance assessment.
  3. Halo effect: This occurs when an overall positive or negative impression of an employee influences how they are evaluated, regardless of their actual performance.
  4. Similarity bias: This is when an evaluator gives higher ratings to employees who share similar backgrounds, experiences, or characteristics, regardless of their actual job performance.
  5. Contrast effect: This occurs when an employee is evaluated compared to other employees rather than based on their performance.
  6. Leniency or strictness bias: This happens when an evaluator tends to rate all employees as either very high or very low rather than using a more balanced approach.

It’s essential to be aware of these biases and take steps to minimize their impact on performance reviews. This can include training for managers, using standardized evaluation criteria, and ensuring that evaluations are based on objective data and measurable results.

How Can Managers Reduce Bias in Performance Reviews?

Managers can take several steps to reduce bias in performance reviews:

  1. Use objective criteria: Clearly define the performance criteria and use objective measures wherever possible, such as achieving specific goals or quantifiable metrics. Setting SMART goals can help here.
  2. Standardize the review process: Develop a standardized process and evaluation form to ensure that all employees are evaluated using the same criteria and approach. Using a performance management system can keep things aligned.
  3. Train managers on bias awareness: Provide training on common types of bias affecting performance evaluations and how to recognize and mitigate them. Do this through your LMS to ensure everyone gets the same training and can go back to review.
  4. Encourage feedback from multiple sources: Encourage input from peers, subordinates, and other managers to understand an employee’s performance better.
  5. Avoid making snap judgments: Take the time to review all available data and feedback before making evaluations or recommendations.
  6. Focus on specific behaviors and actions: Provide specific examples that demonstrate an employee’s strengths or areas for improvement rather than relying on generalizations or assumptions.
  7. Keep documentation: Document performance and feedback throughout the year to provide a complete picture of an employee’s performance, rather than relying on recent events or a single instance.

By taking these steps, managers can help reduce bias in performance reviews, leading to more accurate assessments, better employee morale and productivity, and a fairer workplace.

Performance Review Software Can Help Eliminate Bias

Performance review software can help eliminate bias in several ways:

  1. Standardization: By using a standardized evaluation process, performance review software can help reduce the impact of personal biases and preferences.
  2. Objectivity: Performance review software can help ensure that evaluations are based on objective criteria and measurable results, rather than subjective opinions or perceptions.
  3. Data analysis: Software can collect and analyze data over time, providing managers with a more comprehensive and accurate view of an employee’s performance and potential bias in the evaluation process.
  4. Multiple evaluators: Performance review software can facilitate feedback and input from multiple evaluators, such as peers, subordinates, or other managers, providing a more diverse and balanced perspective on an employee’s performance.
  5. Blind evaluation: Some performance review software solutions offer blind evaluation features that remove identifying information, such as names or photos, from evaluations to help reduce the impact of implicit bias.
  6. Training and support: Performance review software can provide training and support to managers and employees on how to recognize and avoid bias in the evaluation process.

Overall, performance review software can provide a more objective, standardized, and data-driven approach to performance management, reducing the impact of bias and helping organizations make more informed decisions about their employees.

Trakstar (Formerly Reviewsnap) Can Go Even Further

People should invest in performance review software because it can offer several benefits over traditional paper-based or manual review processes:

  1. Improved accuracy: Performance review software can help ensure that evaluations are based on objective criteria and measurable results, reducing the impact of bias and personal preferences.
  2. Time savings: Automated review processes can save time for both managers and employees, allowing them to focus on other tasks and responsibilities.
  3. Standardization: Software can help ensure that all employees are evaluated using the same criteria and approach, providing a more consistent and fair evaluation process.
  4. Data collection and analysis: Performance review software can collect and analyze data over time, helping managers identify trends and areas for improvement.
  5. Goal setting and tracking: Software can help managers set and track goals for employees, providing a more structured and focused approach to performance management.
  6. Feedback and coaching: Performance review software can facilitate ongoing feedback and coaching, helping employees improve their skills and performance.
  7. Integration with other HR systems: Many performance review software solutions integrate with other HR systems, such as payroll or employee recordkeeping, providing a more seamless and integrated HR experience.

Overall, investing in performance review software can help improve the accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness of performance management in an organization, leading to better employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

To schedule a demo of today’s best-in-class performance review software, click here.