Employee Evaluation Template & Comprehensive Guide [+ Free Download]

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Employee Evaluation Template & Comprehensive Guide [+ Free Download]

Employee evaluation templates are an indispensable tool that allows HR professionals to develop a structured approach to assessing an individual employee’s performance, growth, and potential within an organization. 

Employee evaluation forms support a culture of continuous improvement, encourage open communication between employees and management, and are invaluable in identifying areas for development and aligning individual goals with organizational objectives.

This article provides a deep dive into the various methods and types of employee evaluations, as well as two free employee evaluation templates: An employee evaluation template Word doc, and an employee evaluation template Excel doc to download.

What is an employee evaluation? 
Why implement employee evaluations? 
The different methods of evaluating employees 
Types of employee evaluations
Checklist: Best practices for creating and implementing employee evaluations
HR tips to help managers conduct an effective employee evaluation

What is an employee evaluation? 

An employee evaluation, also known as a performance appraisal or performance review, is a process that an organization uses to assess and measure an individual employee’s job performance, contributions, and overall effectiveness. 

This assessment typically involves setting performance goals, evaluating the employee’s progress toward achieving those goals, identifying strengths and areas for improvement, providing feedback, and discussing opportunities for professional development. It’s important to note that there are many different performance evaluation templates and methodologies that HR professionals can choose from. 

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The right fit should be determined by what works for your organization and where you see the best results. This may require some testing and experimenting with the various options we list later in this article.

Employee performance is tied to employee evaluations

As an HR professional, you are ideally placed to develop and implement processes that drive employee performance and engagement. The statistics are universal and unambiguous: the more feedback employees receive based on evaluations, the better their performance (and the performance of the organizations they work for). 

43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week compared to 18% of employees with low engagement. 92% of people believe that constructive criticism is effective at improving performance, and Gallup even found that companies that give continuous strength-based feedback can reduce their turnover by almost 15%.

Here’s where things get interesting. According to a study conducted by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman for Harvard Business Review, 57% of employees prefer corrective feedback, significantly higher than the 43% who say they prefer only praise and recognition. It’s worth highlighting that no one in the study said they didn’t want any feedback.

The statistics show us that everyone wants some feedback on how they are performing. When asked what was most helpful in their career, fully 72% said they thought their performance would improve if their managers provided corrective feedback.

The key to delivering meaningful feedback is being able to accurately evaluate employee performance. In this article, we discuss employee evaluations and review the pros and cons of various employee evaluation methods available to HR professionals today.

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Why implement employee evaluations? 

Employee evaluations are essential for several reasons:

  • Performance improvement: Regular evaluations help employees understand their performance levels, identify gaps, and receive improvement guidance. This leads to increased productivity and effectiveness in their roles.
  • Goal alignment: A shared understanding of priorities and expectations is achieved when employee goals are aligned with the organization’s overall objectives.
  • Employee engagement: Research shows that employees who receive regular feedback and recognition are more engaged and motivated, contributing to higher job satisfaction and retention.
  • Professional development: Evaluations provide opportunities for employees to discuss their career aspirations, identify skills they need to develop, and create a plan for growth and advancement.
  • Informed decision-making: As an HR professional, you are able to collect and collate valuable performance data through evaluations, which in turn can be used to inform decisions related to promotions, compensation adjustments, and resource allocation.

HR tip

The best performing organizations in the world are built on cultures of continuous improvement, employee engagement, and professional development. Employee evaluations are a crucial component of effective HR management.

The different methods of evaluating employees 

The diversity in organizations, roles, employee needs, and the objectives of evaluations means that many different methods for conducting employee evaluations have been developed over the years. Let’s take a look at some of these methods and review the benefits and cons of each.

1. The job performance scale

A job performance scale is a standardized framework that can be used to measure and evaluate an employee’s job performance against a set of predetermined criteria or benchmarks. It helps managers and organizations assess how well an employee is meeting their job responsibilities, achieving their goals, and contributing to the overall success of the organization.

It typically consists of several performance dimensions or factors that are relevant to the employee’s role and rated on a scale. These include communication skills, teamwork, problem-solving abilities, adherence to deadlines, quality of work, and productivity.

The pros of using a job performance scale

  • A standardized scale helps ensure performance evaluations are consistent and fair.
  • Clear and objective criteria can be applied across employees and roles.
  • Offers a structured approach to assessing performance, making it easier for managers to provide specific feedback.
  • Employees understand their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Employee performance can be compared across different roles and departments.
  • Leaders can make data-driven decisions about promotions, compensation adjustments, and talent management.
  • Can be used as a basis for setting performance goals and expectations.

The cons of using a job performance scale

  • Evaluators may still be influenced by personal biases or subjective opinions, leading to inconsistencies and unfair assessments.
  • A rigid focus on quantifiable performance metrics may not capture the full scope of an employee’s contributions, particularly soft skills like creativity, leadership qualities, or emotional intelligence.
  • May not adequately address the unique aspects of specific job roles or individual employees.
  • Numerical ratings could limit the depth and usefulness of feedback.

HR tip

Even though we know any feedback is better than no feedback, it’s important that employees feel motivated. Don’t reduce an employee to a number. Ensure all feedback is meaningful.

2. The job behavior scale

A job behavior scale is a tool used in performance evaluations to measure and assess an employee’s work-related behaviors, instead of focusing solely on task-based outcomes. Job behavior scales aim to evaluate the way employees interact with colleagues, approach problem-solving, exhibit leadership qualities, adhere to company values, and demonstrate other soft skills that contribute to a positive work environment and organizational success.

An HR professional would typically choose to use a job behavior scale if they needed to measure factors such as teamwork, adaptability, communication, conflict resolution, initiative, and ethical conduct. Like the job performance scale, the job behavior scale is rated on a scale. For example, this could be numeric (eg, 1 – 5) or descriptive (e.g., poor, fair, good, excellent).   

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The pros of using a job behavior scale

  • When used with a job performance scale, assessing job behaviors can provide a more comprehensive understanding of an employee’s overall contribution to the organization.
  • The importance of soft skills is understood and measured.
  • HR professionals can evaluate whether employees align with the organization’s culture and values.
  • Promotes a positive and cohesive work environment.
  • Can be used to provide targeted feedback and support for personal and professional growth.

The cons of using a job behavior scale

  • Can be highly subjective compared to assessing task-based performance.
  • This can lead to inconsistencies and unfair assessments influenced by personal biases or opinions.
  • Defining and measuring behaviors can be challenging, as they are often abstract and difficult to quantify.
  • Results can be ambiguous, leaving employees who do not understand how to improve.
  • Is more time-consuming and labor-intensive than evaluating task-based performance.

HR tip

Don’t let a strong focus on job behaviors lead to underestimating the importance of technical skills or task-based performance. A holistic view is crucial for an employee’s overall effectiveness.

3. Competency-based behavioral assessment

If a manager needs to evaluate performance based on an employee’s demonstration of specific competencies or skills relevant to their job role, a competency-based behavioral assessment may suit your needs. 

These assessments are designed to measure both technical abilities and soft skills, such as problem-solving, communication, teamwork, leadership, and adaptability. The primary goal of a competency-based behavioral assessment is to determine how well an employee’s skills and behaviors align with the organization’s expectations and requirements for their position.

The scale in this type of assessment measures performance against the organization and manager’s expectations, and will typically include measures such as, ‘below expectations,’ ‘meets expectations,’ or ‘exceeds expectations.’ Managers may also provide qualitative feedback to further explain the employee’s performance in each competency area.

The pros of using a competency-based behavioral assessment

  • The importance of both technical and soft skills is emphasized, providing a more comprehensive evaluation of an employee’s overall effectiveness.
  • Employees gain a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how they can improve.
  • Personalized development is supported because areas, where employees need further training or support are identified.
  • Predefined competencies ensure a consistent and fair assessment process across the organization.
  • Employees are better positioned to contribute to the business’s overall success.

The cons of using a competency-based behavioral assessment

  • Assessing soft skills and behaviors can be subjective and prone to personal biases, leading to inconsistencies and unfair evaluations.
  • May not be flexible enough to account for individual differences, unique job responsibilities, or evolving organizational needs.
  • May overlook other valuable skills or contributions an employee brings to the organization.
  • May not provide enough qualitative feedback, which could limit the depth and usefulness of the evaluations.

HR tip

Successfully defining and measuring the competencies that align with organizational objectives requires a thorough understanding of job requirements and the skills needed for success in various roles. As an HR professional, you are well-positioned to add tangible value to your organization.

4. Psychological appraisals

In the context of employee performance evaluations, psychological appraisals refer to assessments that focus on an individual’s psychological traits, attitudes, and behaviors in relation to their work performance. These typically examine factors such as personality traits, emotional intelligence, cognitive abilities, motivation, and stress management.

The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the mental and emotional factors that may influence an employee’s job performance, interpersonal relationships, and overall well-being in the workplace. Once this is established, organizations can tailor training and development opportunities to individual needs, and create a work environment that promotes employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. 

The pros of using psychological appraisals

  • Highly personalized and uncover an individual’s personality traits, preferences, and behavioral tendencies.
  • Problem-solving, reasoning, and decision-making abilities can be measured and compared to actual job roles.
  • Can be highly beneficial in determining the management style an employee will respond to.
  • Can help determine an employee’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors and how these influence job performance.
  • Can measure an individual’s ability to cope with stress and maintain emotional well-being in the workplace, potentially helping HR professionals to avoid burn-outs in their organizations.

The cons of using psychological appraisals

  • May delve into personal aspects of an employee’s life, raising concerns about privacy and the potential misuse of sensitive information.
  • The interpretation of results can be subjective, leading to potential biases and inconsistencies.
  • May not always accurately predict job performance or success in a specific role.
  • Employees might feel stigmatized or unfairly judged based on the results of psychological appraisals.
  • May raise ethical questions about employee autonomy, consent, and the potential for discrimination based on mental health or personality traits.
  • Conducting psychological appraisals can be time-consuming and costly, particularly if they require specialized assessments or the involvement of trained professionals.

HR tip

Ensure that psychological assessments are conducted with transparency, respect for employee privacy, and in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

5. 360-degree appraisals 

The primary goal of a 360-degree appraisal is to provide a well-rounded perspective on an employee’s performance, skills, and behaviors. To achieve this, 360-degree appraisals gather feedback from multiple sources, including direct supervisors, peers, subordinates, and even external stakeholders, such as clients or vendors.

In some cases, the employee also conducts a self-assessment as part of the process. This approach helps to reduce potential biases and blind spots that can result when evaluations are based solely on the opinions of one person, such as a direct supervisor. 

The pros of using 360-degree appraisals

  • By gathering input from various sources, 360-degree appraisals provide a more accurate and holistic view of an employee’s performance, strengths, and areas for improvement.
  • Incorporating multiple perspectives helps to counterbalance potential biases or personal opinions, leading to a fairer and more objective evaluation.
  • Feedback from different sources can help employees identify specific areas where they can improve and grow, supporting their personal and professional development.
  • The process encourages open dialogue and promotes a culture of constructive feedback within the organization.
  • By including self-assessment as part of the process, employees can develop a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses and become more proactive in addressing them.

The cons of using 360-degree appraisals

  • Can be time-consuming for both the participants and the person responsible for compiling and analyzing the results.
  • Coordinating and managing a 360-degree appraisal process can be complex, particularly in larger organizations where multiple evaluations need to be conducted simultaneously.
  • Receiving feedback from multiple sources can sometimes be overwhelming or confusing for employees, particularly if the feedback is inconsistent or contradictory.
  • If not handled carefully, 360-degree appraisals can lead to resentment, mistrust, or damaged relationships among team members.

HR tip

360-degree appraisals can be the best performance tool at your disposal if handled correctly. Ensure no feedback is misinterpreted or taken out of context. Instead, ensure that feedback participants communicate clearly and constructively.

Types of employee evaluations

1. General employee evaluation 

What it is: A traditional evaluation in which an employee’s performance is assessed by their manager or supervisor.

When to use it: Generally, employee evaluations can be held annually, semi-annually, or quarterly, depending on your organization’s needs and how often you want to give employees feedback.

The benefits: This is a useful assessment if the goal is to discuss an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

Employee Evaluation Template Excel

2. 30-60-90 day review

What it is: A structured employee evaluation process that is typically used for new hires during their first three months in a new role. It can also be used for newly promoted employees.

When to use it: When a new hire joins your organization. The purpose of this review is to assess the employee’s progress, offer feedback, and set expectations at specific intervals during the initial onboarding and integration period.

The benefits: This process ensures a smoother, more successful onboarding process. It also boosts employee longevity because onboarding tends to set the tone for the employee’s experience at an organization.

Download your free 30-60-90-day review template.

3. Peer review 

What it is: Colleagues are asked to provide feedback on an employee’s performance.

When to use it: To track how a project team is progressing. Best used to gain a comprehensive understanding of each project member’s contributions and areas for improvement, specifically focusing on each individual’s performance, collaboration, and communication skills.

The benefits: Peers often have a different perspective on an employee’s work and may notice aspects that a manager might not. This can be a valuable tool to streamline and improve a team’s performance to ensure they meet project goals and deadlines.

4. Objective-based evaluation

What it is: an assessment that measures an individual against goals tied to organizational or departmental targets, or individual objectives set by the employee and their manager.

When to use it: An objective-based evaluation should be used when measuring an individual’s performance against specific, predetermined goals or targets to assess their effectiveness in achieving desired outcomes and to identify areas for improvement.

The benefits: Objective-based evaluations offer clear expectations, quantifiable results, reduced bias, improved performance, goal-setting opportunities, increased motivation, and enhanced communication between employees and evaluators.

5. Employee self-evaluation

What it is: Employees are asked to evaluate their own performance, usually by completing a questionnaire or writing a reflection on how they work.

When to use it: Self-evaluation templates should be used when encouraging employees to reflect on their performance, accomplishments, and areas for improvement.

The benefits: This method can help employees identify their strengths and weaknesses and take ownership of their professional development. Self-evaluations encourage employees to take responsibility for their performance and achievements and open up communication channels with supervisors and managers.

Checklist: Creating and Implementing Employee Evaluations

Checklist: Best practices for creating and implementing employee evaluations

As an HR professional, use this handy checklist as a resource when selecting, personalizing and implementing employee evaluations.

  1. Have you clearly communicated evaluation criteria? All evaluation assessments are more successful when employees and managers understand the purpose and expectations of the evaluation process.
  2. Is there fairness and transparency throughout the evaluation process? It’s important to foster trust, encourage open communication, and ensure that employees feel valued and supported in their development.
  3. Have you included clear expectations? Assessments are far more successful in directing future employee behavior when an employee understands what is expected of them.
  4. Have you developed a structured system that allows for consistent performance reviews? The goal is to promote consistency through regular feedback, enabling better comparisons and tracking of employee progress over time.
  5. Does feedback emphasize strengths and areas for improvement? Employees can only improve their performance if they understand where their strengths lie (and how these support business objectives) as well as where there are areas of improvement. Emphasizing strengths also boosts morale.
  6. Do employees provide input into the evaluation process? Evaluations are far more meaningful when an employee is empowered and encouraged to engage with the process. This ensures a more comprehensive understanding of their performance and development needs.
  7. Is feedback from previous evaluations analyzed? Regularly review the feedback on previous assessments to identify areas for improvement.
  8. Are evaluations tied to career development? Tying evaluations to career development motivates employees to improve, aligns their goals with organizational objectives, and helps retain top talent by promoting growth opportunities.
  9. Are evaluations used to identify learning and development opportunities? Learning and development goals will be far more targeted and successful if they are tied to assessments.
  10. Is data used to monitor employees’ performance over time? Using data enables objective assessment, tracks progress, identifies trends, and informs targeted development efforts to enhance performance.
  11. Are evaluations kept confidential? Not only is it important to protect employee privacy and ensure legal compliance with local  regulations, but confidentiality fosters trust and maintains a respectful work environment.

HR tips to help managers conduct an effective employee evaluation

As an HR professional, you can play an integral role in designing effective employee assessments and supporting managers and employees to ensure employee evaluations remain fair and beneficial.

Here are some top tips to keep in mind:

  • Use evaluations for performance improvement: Promote career development and employee engagement: Help managers to use employee evaluations as a tool for performance improvement rather than just a formality.
  • Promote career development and employee engagement: Discuss future goals and development opportunities that align with the employee’s interests and the organization’s objectives.
  • Keep things fair and consistent: Help managers overcome bias in employee evaluations and ensure they avoid making comparisons between employees. It is also important to focus on behavior, not personality, when discussing performance issues.
  • Make assessment valuable: Guide managers to provide comprehensive, actionable feedback. 
  • Come prepared: Encourage managers to prepare thoroughly by reviewing the employee’s job description, past evaluations, and recent accomplishments.
  • Set a positive tone: Assessments and feedback sessions should be set in an environment that promotes open and honest dialogue. Managers can also encourage two-way communication by asking open-ended questions and actively listening.
  • Be specific: When managers use specific examples to illustrate points and avoid generalizations, employees can understand how the feedback they are receiving relates to their performance, job expectations and career development.
  • Balance criticism with recognition of achievements and strengths: Offer constructive feedback and actionable suggestions for improvement while recognizing the value an employee brings to the organization.
  • Formalize the process: Document key points from the evaluation to track progress and maintain accountability.
  • Be consistent: Follow up regularly to monitor progress, provide ongoing support, and address any concerns that arise.

To conclude

As we’ve highlighted throughout this article, there are many different employee evaluation assessments and templates available for HR professionals to use and adapt to their organization’s unique and diverse needs. 

You play a pivotal role in helping to determine the most suitable assessment approach, which may change as organizational or project needs change. Keep factors like organizational culture, objectives, and employee dynamics top of mind when assessing and selecting the best approach. 

By skilfully selecting and implementing the most fitting employee evaluation method, you can effectively support your organization in driving performance, fostering employee growth, and ultimately, ensuring a thriving and prosperous workforce that is well-equipped to navigate the challenges of an ever-evolving business landscape.

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