Salary management and individual performance reviews

Published on: June 5, 2020
Subjects:  Surveys and forecasts, Total compensation, Performance and bonus

With many of us in various stages of lockdown, it can be hard to attain the same level of employee performance, especially from employees who are teleworking. There are many factors at play here—less-than-ideal work environment, family obligations, difficulty making progress on projects, changing priorities, learning a new way to work, etc.

  • How can we manage employee performance under the current conditions: working from home, projects on hold, disruption of goals set in the beginning of the year?
  • How can we evaluate performance in this context?
  • Would it be better to postpone the review process?

Individual performance management remains important for organizations, particularly those that tie pay raises or bonuses to performance metrics. Even if your organization has instituted pay freezes (as discussed in our article here), performance review mechanisms should remain largely unchanged, with a few tweaks to suit the current situation.

Do not lose sight of the fact that the three basic needs of employees remain the same in times of crisis: they want to contribute (feel like they are making a difference), they want to be recognized (which is a greater challenge when teleworking) and they want to grow. From the perspective of the importance of recognition, employees’ need for feedback remains the same even if the performance management process is less formal considering the circumstances, and even if performance-based raises are temporarily put on hold in some organizations.


It is a good idea to ask managers to inform employees of their expectations at work, any changes to these expectations, and how employee performance will be assessed going forward.

This approach helps employees stay focused on what is expected from them (even if this has changed since the beginning of the year) and prevents unpleasant surprises during the formal performance review. This is the best approach to avoid a disconnect between perceived expectations and actual feedback. This is also an excellent way to keep your troops motivated and committed despite the hurdles they may face.


The importance of the manager’s role has only been amplified by the crisis; managers must be more proactive, flexible and adaptable than ever before. They cannot let go of the reins entirely, but they must adapt their expectations on a case-by-case basis, support their employees and provide more assistance to those having the most difficulty adjusting to their new environment.


Managers may even consider reassessing the concept of individual reviews and instead evaluate the accomplishments of a group or consider assessing other work-related elements. For example, an employee or a group of employees may, by no fault of their own, be less busy during a certain period. A manager could take advantage of this opportunity to give online training sessions and train their employees in new skills, or develop special projects to help them progress. This approach can be applied in a telework context and in the workplace, whether or not you are impacted by the crisis.

How can we maintain the relationship needed to discuss performance?

By maintaining or increasing the frequency of regular performance evaluation meetings (e.g., weekly meetings), changing objectives (qualitative vs. quantitative), altering the planning for deliverables, but, most importantly, keeping in regular contact with employees. Despite the ups and downs of the crisis, employee motivation and commitment will play a key role as businesses reopen, however slowly that may happen. A combination of transparent communication and recognition will help employees maintain trust in their manager and their employer, in addition to helping them feel like they are making a difference.

Due to the pandemic, many businesses have postponed employee performance reviews. So what about pay raises?

The individual performance review process is usually completed on an annual basis. That means that, while this process can be temporarily postponed, some organizations have likely already started it. In the event that an organization plans to issue pay raises on the basis of individual performance, managers can refer to the employee’s prior year performance to support their recommendations. If an organization chooses not to base pay raises on individual performance this year, it may give a standardized pay increase to all of its employees except those ending their employment. The important thing is to be able to justify your decisions to maintain the credibility of the pay raise process. Organizations have no choice but to reassess their approaches, at least temporarily. This “new normal” could alter performance management practices more permanently, but that remains to be seen.

The PCI – Perrault Consulting 2021 salary forecast report will shed light on upcoming trends. To ensure that the data we collect is as accurate and realistic as possible, our study will be launched later than in previous years, in early July, and the results will be released in the fall.

Read the article on salary management and the annual pay raise process

Have questions?

Our professionals are here to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts, who can help you develop creative communication and compensation management strategies for navigating through exceptional circumstances to a gradual reopening.

We can also assist you with the pay equity process, which remains mandatory.

We would like to reiterate our commitment to assisting and advising you. Our teams are fully operational and ready to provide the same level of service our clients expect from us.

Subscribe to our mailing list

To stay in the loop of our events and insights on hot topics.

Contact us