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HR Insights with Ali: How Employee Performance Reviews Can Prevent Future Legal Issues

Posted on 1/11/2017 by Ali Oromchian, Esq.
Practice owners often find that they don’t have problems with their employees. . . until they do. While you didn’t spend all those years furthering your education just so you could fill out paperwork all day, the fact is that the documentation you draft now could be your biggest defense in the case of a future dispute with an employee. One great opportunity for drafting and updating your documentation is an employee review.

A performance review provides you with the chance (or reason) to outline any issues that you have with an employee’s behavior. Let’s say, for example, that you have a receptionist who has been spending work hours on her personal cell phone. Otherwise, her work is exceptional, so you do not want to terminate her. The performance review is a great time to mention your concerns and to explain that you want to keep her on staff but that you need her behavior to change in this one area. Maintaining performance review documentation with employee signatures helps you keep a record of any prior performance issues. This record will serve as proof that you discussed this improper activity and potential ramifications with her.

Best case scenario, the discussion with her is successful and the issue goes away. But if it does not and you have to terminate her, then you will have established a record which will go a long way toward refuting any claims of improper termination, if she were to make them in the future. Either way, this route is preferable to simply mentioning the cell phone issue casually or, even worse, not mentioning it at all and hoping the problem goes away.

Of course, employee performance reviews are helpful tools for a number of other reasons. They provide the opportunity for you to mention good performance (which increases staff retention) and to get helpful feedback from your workforce which can benefit your practice overall. If you have questions about how to conduct a performance review or would like assistance with documentation, reach out to an HR expert or employment counsel.

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