Workplace Reviews Create Office Tension, Make Men Cry, Study Finds

Many companies are ditching the mandatory yearly review for employees, and a new study finds there may be plenty more following in their footsteps. Performance reviews can be a major drag and do more harm in the office than good, according to researchers, but the toll can be especially brutal for men.

The Adobe-led study looked at surveys from 1,500 office workers — split evenly between men and women — between Nov. 28, 2016 and Dec. 6, 2016. About 34% of the participants were millennials, 42% were Gen Xers, and about 24% were baby boomers. Nearly two-thirds of the group were office managers.

According to the results, most office workers (64%) and managers (62%) seemed to agree that yearly reviews were a waste of time. Nearly 60% of the workers thought the reviews were “needless” and didn’t help them grow at all.

Office managers may agree on the waste of time part: the average review takes about 17 hours to complete, the study found.

So how do reviews make the office worse off? The results show that 57% of workers think reviews put them in competition with one another and 61% agree their managers have favorite employees.

About half of the office workers polled felt having their performance ranked against others in the office was “upsetting.” In fact, 20% of workers quit their job because of a bad review, while 37% have looked for new jobs afterward. Twenty-two percent coped by crying — and the study found that men are more likely than women to cry. Twenty-five percent of men have cried from reviews while just 18% of women have done so. Men are also more likely to quit, with 28% throwing in the towel while just 11% of women would quit.

The reactions seemed to be the strongest among millennials, with more than a third claiming they’ve cried and just under a third saying they’ve quit over a poor review.

Millennials don’t seem to be big fans of reviews at all, with nearly two-thirds claiming they’d switch jobs to a company without performance reviews. The switch would come with good reason: 46% of workers think that offices without reviews are more flexible, and have “happier and higher performing employees.” Baby Boomers were more open to keeping yearly reviews in the office, with just 36% saying they’d prefer their companies get rid of the process, compared to 68% for millennials.

It’s quite possible more offices will take notice. Two in three managers say they hope their company abolishes the process all together, while 80 percent of workers say they’d rather get feedback in the moment, not at the end of the year. Where do you stand on the issue?

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