Millennial Employees Drive Changes in the Performance Review Process

As younger workers dominate the ranks of your small business, you may have to modernize the way you give feedback and offer pay raises.

Millennial Employees Drive Changes in the Performance Review Process

Dana Manciagli is a career expert, Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive, member of the board of Junior Achievement and author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job! Contact her at

Both employers and employees frequently say the annual performance review process is one of the most awful, detestable parts of work. You may have heard the grumbling if you conduct employee reviews in your wastewater-related business.

Two common complaints are that reviews are a waste of time and they are too stressful. Managers hate spending all the time compiling the reviews. For example, last year, accounting firm Deloitte calculated that its managers spent a combined 2 million hours each year just putting together performance reviews.

Employees fear being judged unfairly during performance reviews, particularly if the manager is only focusing on their most recent accomplishment (or failure) rather than on a major accomplishment from eight months ago.

Despite the complaints, there are certainly people who enjoy performance reviews and companies whose review methods are innovative and enriching.

A recent poll from TINYpulse, which specializes in employee engagement issues, sought to find out exactly who hates performance reviews the most. Their findings are surprising, revealing that older workers are more likely to go along with the traditional review process, while the youngest workers fear and loathe it the most. The poll is a must-read for any manager with young millennial employees.

TINYpulse polled more than 1,000 employees and turned up six surprising facts about their feelings toward performance reviews:

1. Many feel reviews are outdated.

Thirty-seven percent of poll respondents agree reviews are outdated, referring to processes that involve spreadsheets or even handwritten notes. By 2015, millennials became the largest demographic group in the workforce. This is a generation raised with iPhones and Twitter. So it’s no wonder they might balk at filling out a review on paper. Millennials are probably wondering, “Is there an app for that?”

2. Millennials fear reviews.

Of the three major generations addressed in the TINYpulse poll — baby boomers, Gen X and millennials — millennials were most fearful of reviews. A little more than 24 percent of millennials say they feared the review process, compared to 16 percent of Gen X and 14 percent of baby boomers. Millennials also rated their stress about reviews more highly than the other two.

3. Women fear reviews more.

TINYpulse also found women fear performance reviews more than men do; 21 percent of women say they are afraid of the review process, while just 14 percent of men were afraid of a review. But women were braver in one area — 40 percent say they want their direct manager to conduct their review, while only 29 percent of men did.

4. Annual reviews still popular.

A majority of respondents — just below 50 percent — say they prefer a review once a year. Quarterly reviews were a second preference at 23 percent. But this trend isn’t firm. Consulting giant Accenture (with 330,000 employees) recently announced it would do away with annual performance reviews in favor of a system where employees receive feedback on a more flexible basis.

5. Millennials want reviews more often.

Hopefully you’re not sick of hearing about millennials — especially because their influence over reviews really will be huge. Only 38 percent of millennials prefer an annual review, compared to 44 percent of Gen X and an astounding 58 percent of baby boomers. Millennials are more diverse in their preferences, with 28 percent preferring a quarterly review and 22 percent desiring a biannual review. And 9 percent were willing to undergo a monthly review, compared to just 4 percent of baby boomers.

6. Compensation is lacking.

Last, but not least, is the issue of compensation. A stunning 41 percent of respondents say their performance review did not result in a pay increase. Not surprisingly, 64 percent say they wanted their performance review tied to compensation.


The takeaway from the TINYpulse poll seems to be that reviews are probably here to stay, but they will go through some drastic changes under the influence of millennials. There are already mobile apps emerging to organize the review process by allowing managers and employees to rate performance whenever they feel like it. So if you’re used to a once-a-year review in a document or spreadsheet, get ready for some changes. 


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