UK employees suffer ‘appraisal apathy’ as productivity sees sharpest fall in five years

  • Nearly half (49%) of UK employees are indifferent to – or dread – their performance reviews
  • 1 in 4 UK employees has never had a performance review in their current organisation
  • Nearly half (42%) of UK employees’ performance reviews are still being documented in printed form

London, UK – 23 October 2019: Research released today reveals that nearly half of all UK employees (49%) are either indifferent to, or dread, their performance reviews. Indifference to performance appraisals was widespread across the board (33% of employees) but grew in line with age (45% of all ‘baby boomers’ said they were indifferent) and length of service – two in every five workers who had been with their company for at least five years stated an indifference towards performance reviews.

The research, which polled 1,000 employees across the UK in October 2019, was conducted by global cloud HR software provider, Cezanne HR, and highlights significant employee appraisal apathy – a finding that comes just a week after the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Labour productivity report revealed that UK productivity fell by 0.5% in Apr-Jun 2019.

Cezanne HR logo

Cezanne HR logo

While a third of employees said they were ‘indifferent’ to performance appraisals, nearly one in five (16%) admitted to ‘usually dreading’ or ‘always dreading’ them, and of these, nearly two-thirds (64%) cited their reason as ‘finding the process uncomfortable’ or ‘believing them to be a waste of time’.

Despite widespread recognition that companies need to be more agile and outcome focused, the majority of performance reviews continue to be paper-based and an occasional event, with less than a quarter saying they had monthly or more frequent reviews, and close to 40% reporting that their organisation works to one only annual review.

More concerning still, one in four UK employees has never had a performance review in their current organisation (24%) and more than one in ten (14%) has never had a performance review. Of these, over two thirds (68%) feel they would benefit from having a documented performance review if given the opportunity.

Of those who have regular performance reviews, the majority cited a need for ‘more focus on career opportunities and training’ (top answer) and ‘more focus on future goals and objectives (second to top answer) when indicating what they felt could be most improved.

Sue Lingard, Director, Cezanne HR, commented: “This widespread indifference towards performance reviews in the face of a UK-wide productivity issue should be a wake-up call to business leaders. For the most part, employees want to do a good job, but they need clear goals and to feel invested in, whether that be by unlocking access to new training or other career progression opportunities.”

Lingard added: “By setting clear and attainable performance goals and ensuring regular, constructive and future-focussed performance conversations, organisations will create the most optimum environment for ongoing performance improvement and productivity.”

Survey results also indicated that the slow adoption of performance management technology may be contributing to the UK’s productivity problem. Surprisingly, only 20% of employees reported using online performance management software, while nearly half (42%) of UK employees’ performance reviews are still being documented in printed form, creating admin-heavy processes, increased data security risk, and making it all too easy for performance objectives to be filed and forgotten.


Additional notes to Editor:

The future workforce
The survey also revealed some interesting demographic results. Gen Z (18 to 24 year olds) and millennials (25-34 year olds) were seen to have more frequent performance reviews (quarterly) than their older colleagues who, on average, have only one appraisal each year. Interestingly, the newest entrants to the workforce also advocate for yet more frequent catch ups, citing a preference for ‘monthly’ reviews – a finding that suggests Gen Z employees are seeing real value in performance management.

Despite this, almost half (43%) of all 18-24 year olds said they had already gone a year or more without documented performance feedback. With this demography alone making up a quarter (24%) of the entire UK workforce, and with these employees arguably in greatest need of training and skills acquisition, HR has a vital role to play in building performance cultures that foster better productivity output.

Personal issues and performance reviews
Encouragingly, 72% of employees said they would feel comfortable discussing work/life balance issues during performance review, however almost one in ten respondents (9%) said they would not feel comfortable discussing any form of personal issue during a performance review. Similarly, less than half (49%) of respondents said they would feel comfortable discussing their mental health, though this did increase to 59% in the 18-24 year old bracket, showing a more positive picture for the future workforce.

About Cezanne HR
Cezanne HR is a UK HR Software leader for mid-sized international organisations, providing a modern, secure Cloud HR system that lets companies quickly and effectively digitise, streamline and improve human resources management. Covering the full employee lifecycle, Cezanne HR’s online service includes integrated modules for core HR, recruitment, onboarding, absence and performance management, timesheets and career and succession planning, together with an open API and integrations with leading third-party solutions.

With customers ranging from large multi-nationals to UK-focused charities and not-for-profits, and reflecting decades of experience working with HR professionals worldwide, Cezanne HR is purposely designed to be exceptionally quick to deploy and easy to manage, taking out cost and complexity without sacrificing the flexibility or depth of features required to support complex and changing HR needs.


PR Contact
Sally McDonald
[email protected]

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Originally posted 2019-10-24 23:39:47.


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