Kim Runyen
Oct 29, 2015

Millennials Think Your Performance Reviews Suck and Here’s Why

Performance Reviews SuckA new TriNet survey finds performance reviews negatively impact productivity, morale and talent retention.

While formal, once-a-year performance reviews are still common practice in most businesses, a recent survey on performance reviews reveals the negative impacts of these traditional, annual performance reviews on working millennials and confirms that companies need to radically change their process for sharing performance feedback in order to retain top talent and stay competitive in today’s job market.

As major companies like Accenture, Adobe and Gap eliminate the traditional performance review, the process is increasingly coming under evaluation. The TriNet Perform study, conducted by Wakefield Research in September 2015, surveyed 1,000 U.S full-time employees born after 1980.

According to the study results, here are the major ways in which traditional performance review processes can negatively impact millennials’ professional growth and, eventually, cause them to leave:

Traditional performance reviews can undermine employees’ confidence

The TriNet Perform survey found that 62 percent of millennials have felt “blindsided” by a performance review. Additionally, 74 percent of those surveyed frequently feel “in the dark” about how their managers and peers think they’re performing at work and nearly half of them (47 percent) said that receiving a performance review makes them feel like they can’t do anything right.

Infrequent performance discussions can cause anxiety and mistrust

Traditional performance reviews can be overwhelming and cause employees not to trust the accuracy of the review. According to the survey, nearly one in four (22 percent) of millennial employees have called in sick because they were anxious about receiving their review, while more than half of those surveyed (59 percent), frequently feel their manager is unprepared to give feedback during performance reviews.

Annual performance reviews can lower morale and negatively impact talent retention The survey found that more than half (57 percent) of millennials have reacted to a performance review in the following ways:

    • 28 percent looked for a new job.
    • 35 percent complained to coworkers.
    • 15 percent have cursed.
    • 15 percent have cried.

What millennials want in performance feedback

While 69 percent of millennials see their company’s review process as flawed, they also depend on it for their professional growth and development. As a better option, nearly nine out of 10 (85 percent) of millennial employees would feel more confident in their current position if they could have more frequent performance conversations with their manager. Updates employees would like to see include:
  • More specific feedback, as 40 percent feel their current feedback is too vague.
  • An open dialogue, given that 32 percent dislike when reviews don’t allow employees to share thoughts on their own performance.
  • Regular, ongoing feedback, as 32 percent feel that reviews replace regular feedback.
  • Fair, unbiased feedback to mitigate against the 31 percent who feel their feedback is biased or unfair.

If you are interested in learning more about performance management products or our HR solutions for small to midsized businesses, TriNet can help.


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