CDI Corporation

Transforming the Review Process to Improve Company Culture


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By now most companies are well into the process of ramping up for the new year. While executives are rolling out new operational plans, strategies and budgets, many employees are preparing for their annual performance review. Although the review process is a necessary part of business, it can be a time-consuming and tedious exercise for both managers and their direct reports. Workers can also feel they are in the hot seat with regard to their performance from the previous year. Most importantly, scheduling reviews on an annual basis can delay feedback and two-way conversations that would have been more beneficial at an earlier time. This postponed interaction is causing some employers to look at alternatives to the annual review to build a stronger, more cohesive company culture.

Accenture is a company that recently decided to eliminate annual reviews. With a workforce where 70 percent of employees are Millennials, the organization realized that traditional evaluations were not effective for engaging and motivating this generational group which values frequent, real-time feedback. As a result, Accenture developed a digital approach that encourages managers to “coach in the moment” from any device, instead of “after the moment.” Their goal was to create a culture that promotes continual growth and learning for all employees, whether are permanent employees or long-term contractors.

“Workforce expectations are changing and being influenced by the social, mobile world in which we live,” says Shawn Zimmerman, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for CDI Corporation. “Companies that understand the implications of this, and have the agility to adopt new technologies and different approaches to work, will be most successful in attracting and retaining top performers who can become the future leaders of tomorrow. Assessing the effectiveness of the review process and what it says about the organization’s culture is a great place to start.”

Zimmerman suggests companies that are looking to re-evaluate their performance review process ask the following questions:

Is the annual review the main time that feedback is provided on performance? Look for opportunities on a regular basis to set priorities, discuss work outcomes and coach team members. Whether it is weekly status meetings, daily advice or a combination of the two, employees are frequently more engaged when they feel their managers are committed to helping them become more successful workers. This is especially true for contractors, who value being treated like true team members.

Does the company provide coaching / mentoring opportunities beyond the insight provided by supervisors? Employee groups that facilitate peer-to-peer mentoring, internal networking and presentations from leadership on career ascension can help organizations develop a culture of growth and development.

What technologies or new approaches can be leveraged to expedite feedback? Not every company will find it necessary to implement a digital process as robust as Accenture’s, but business leaders should continually look for ways to communicate with their permanent and contract direct reports in a meaningful and timely manner. Shared cloud documents, internal social media groups like Yammer, or even a simple email process are all things that can encourage real-time, 2-way communications.

Eliminating the annual review is not necessarily the answer, as many companies find the procedure effective in evaluating employees and holding them accountable. “The key is to find ways to augment the process by creating opportunities to promote dialogue that will improve motivation, work flow, productivity and career advancement,” adds Zimmerman. “Ultimately, that is the type of environment that top performers seek.”

Recent CDI Analysis

“Workforce expectations are changing and being influenced by the social, mobile world in which we live.”

Shawn Zimmerman
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
CDI Corporation

Employment Situation (U.S.)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate fell a tenth of a point to register at 4.9 percent in January. It was the first time the rate has slipped under 5 percent since 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal. Over the year, unemployment fell by 0.8 percentage point. Total nonfarm employment grew by 151,000, falling short of economists’ predictions. However, the news source noted that the gains mark the 64th consecutive month of job creation in the U.S.

The largest job gains were seen in retail trade. The sector added 58,000 jobs in January, generally unchanged from December, which economists noted was atypical given the swell of job growth during the holiday season. Retail employment grew by 301,000 over the year.

Financial activities also added 18,000 jobs, with notable increases in credit intermediation and related activities, which gained 7,000 jobs.

Professional and business services saw little change in January adding 9,000 jobs compared to 60,000 in December. Within the sector, professional and technical services gained 25,000 jobs. Temporary help services lost 25,000 jobs after adding the same amount in December.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, wholesale trade, and government, changed little over the month.

The January report is causing economists to rethink their predictions for interest rate hikes in the coming year.

“We now expect two rate hikes this year in June and December, as opposed to three in our previous baseline,” said Barclays economists in a report, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The full Bureau of Labor Statistics report can be downloaded by
clicking here.

Employment Situation (Canada)

Canada’s unemployment rate inched up 0.1 per centage point to 7.2 percent in January. Although employment grew by 0.7 per cent over the year, with an additional 126,000 people working, the unemployment rate jumped from 6.6 per cent to 7.2 per cent during the same period due to the labour force expanding at a faster rate than employment. Unemployment fell across the country in January except in Ontario, which was the only province to register employment growth.

Professional, scientific and technical services lost 9,000 jobs in January, but grew by 2.9 per cent throughout the year.

Employment in the public and private sectors changed very little during the month, while information, culture and recreation employment grew by 16,000.

Driving some of the employment losses across the nation was the ailing natural resources industry. Though employment in the sector remained steady in January, over the year natural resources shed 13,000 jobs, a decline of 3.6 per cent. Job losses in Alberta contributed to this overall drop.

"I expect that until the situation with the oil price stabilizes out in the global market that Alberta is going to continue to feel this for the next little while," said Canadian West Foundation economist Janice Plumstead in an interview with CBC News.

The economist added that significant changes in the energy industry since the last time that Alberta experienced similar job losses may have contributed to the decline.

Some 11,000 positions were lost in manufacturing in January across the country, and the decline was also driven by job losses in the industry in Alberta.

Canadian ES Report:
Labour Force Survey, January 2016

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