Blog Engagement

Benefits of an employee check-in: What’s in it for me?

Just imagine. Employee objectives align with business priorities. Employees and managers hold regular conversations about goals, progress and development. HR drives strategic programmes using real-time knowledge of employee engagement and management skills gaps. And everyone thrives on timely recognition. Well, it isn't a dream. These are just some of the benefits of an employee check-in process. So it's time to understand how they work and introduce them into your business.

Many HR Directors recognise the intrinsic link between performance management and employee engagement. But traditional review processes and engagement surveys are distinctly separate, one-off events. And it's difficult to bring their results together to spot trends and patterns over time. Instead, you need employee check-ins. A simple process that drives improvements in engagement, performance and wellbeing. And provides data you can use to proactively manage issues. But you need to convince the whole business to make a change, and that won't be easy. So you must understand:

  • What employee check-ins are and how they work
  • Why employee check-ins are better than annual reviews and surveys
  • What's in it for each of your stakeholders (employees, managers, senior leadership and HR)
  • How to get employee check-ins right from the start

The what and how of an employee check-in

Employee check-ins focus on two main elements: regular conversations and two-way feedback. They're pulse surveys and performance reviews in one. They track progress against short term milestones that align with business priorities (Objectives and Key Results, OKRs). And managers and employees meet frequently to discuss updates.

A simple template guides the review of achievement, blockers, and personal development goals. So managers give employees immediate feedback. Employees take action where things aren't going to plan, then raise issues limiting their success. And managers remove blockers and move projects forward. But managers are also responsible for understanding development goals and must seek opportunities for team members to grow.

The whole process of employee check-ins builds relationships, as well as tracking performance. Employees start to take ownership for their own success and employee engagement improves.

Why annual reviews and engagement surveys must be replaced

Annual appraisals and engagement surveys both focus firmly on the past. Responses are based on a snapshot in time and feedback becomes irrelevant straight after it's given. Pulse surveys offer a slight improvement, but only because they're more frequent.

For many managers and employees, annual reviews and pulse surveys are little more than tick-box exercises offering limited value. And often, they drive disengagement thanks to poorly delivered feedback or a failure to follow up. But even when businesses do respond, it can be months after issues were raised. Opinions change and people move on. Yet you're left struggling to address something that's no longer the current focus.

The reality is separate annual processes really aren't fit for purpose. Instead, you need an integrated approach that tracks performance and engagement over time. But you don't have the in-house analytical skills. So you need simple reporting that shows trends; by team, department, and overall company. And ways to highlight excellence or indicate where action's needed. These are the benefits of an employee check-in. And they're a great reason to move away from annual processes that deliver little or no value.

What's in it for me? Benefits of an employee check-in by stakeholder

A well-designed HR app provides a simple employee check-in process. Meetings are generated automatically and templates sent through in advance. Prep time for reviews reduces by 90% as everything pulls through in a couple of clicks. But you won't sell people purely on the admin benefits. Change only comes if they buy-in to the principles. And that means selling what's in it for them.

The benefits of an employee check-in for employees

  • Objectives that matter. Gone are the year-long fuzzy goals. It's time for clear, short-term OKRs that change in line with priorities. Employees see how they fit in the business. And they work on projects that make a difference; to them and the wider team.
  • Quicker progress. Employees prefer regular feedback so they know how they're doing. Employee check-ins give a weekly touchpoint to help keep them on track or change direction. And managers actively move blockers. So employees make incremental improvements and hit goals quicker thanks to active support.
  • Genuine focus on development. Career aspirations and personal development are now regular discussion points. Employees get opportunities through projects, roles, and building new skills. Meanwhile, their contribution's recognised and their connection to the business grows.
  • Peer to peer recognition. Some annual processes request peer feedback. But comments are vague as details of past events are long forgotten. Employee check-ins make this feedback meaningful with recognition given as it happens. Celebrating achievements becomes part of the culture. And employees feel happier as they lift each other up.

Why managers should make the change?

  • Drives better relationships. Some managers find building relationships with their teams difficult. But employee check-ins offer a structure to follow. And let managers prepare for discussions in advance. Over time, they feel less awkward as weekly conversations expand to more than just work.
  • Ability to manage your own workload. The beauty of employee check-ins is they're flexible to suit business needs. And frequent conversations take the pressure off formal reviews. They're not only quicker, with all the information in one place. But managers can choose when to run them so it works for them and their teams.
  • Makes managing easier. Aligned OKRs and regular feedback lets managers be honest about how things are going. Employees have chance to respond and are willing to share their concerns in return. While for managers it's less about managing the day-to-day. Instead, the focus is on working better together.
  • Easier to justify decisions. Managers make the case for promotion or performance management. But they often come under fire for lack of evidence. The benefit of an employee check-in, is they provide a bank of information and demonstrate patterns of behaviour. So managers feel confident as they escalate decisions to senior leadership and HR.

The importance of employee check-ins for senior leadership

  • Better buy-in to company objectives. OKRs align at all levels of the business. Senior leaders focus on making the right decisions and adjust goals quickly to reflect a new direction. But employees continue to see where their contribution fits. So they remain driven by achieving results.
  • Builds employee engagement. Regular conversations create shared understanding. And aligned OKRs means everyone strives for the same goals. As a result, people feel more connected; to each other and to the business. At the same time, employee engagement increases as collaboration grows.
  • Proactively respond to your teams. Get the right HR app and you can review performance and engagement levels easily. And use sentiment insights to know how people feel each week. So senior leaders can celebrate improvements in performance. And take action where engagement starts to dip.
  • Reduce employee turnover. People who don’t feel valued leave organisations. Employee check-ins focus on individual recognition and encourage proactive management when concerns are raised. As trust then builds between managers and employees, people stop looking to resign.

Benefits of an employee check-in for HR

  • Employee-owned review process. Once employee check-ins are embedded in the business, managers and employees can drive them. You need only support by exception. And your focus moves to the quality of conversations, not on poorly completed reviews.
  • Build proactive HR strategies. Weekly reports highlight trends, so you have time to look strategically at issues. Introduce management development where check-ins are missing. Identify gaps and any training that's needed. And investigate specific challenges where engagement scores are particularly low.  
  • Create a culture of communication. Employee check-ins drive regular updates. And feedback gets given every time. So relationships between managers and employees build. And openness and honesty become the norm.
  • Managers become better people managers. The business must understand the link between performance and engagement. And employee check-ins drive those connections. So managers clearly see the difference in performance and motivation between teams who have check-ins or not.

How to get employee check-ins right from the start

Employee check-ins aren't a magic wand. You can't just introduce them and hope for the best. You need to make them a habit and an automatic part of the weekly routine. So you must provide support and guidance to managers while they get comfortable changing their ways.

You're building a culture of communication, where feedback’s valued and recognition’s standard. You must start small by introducing the practice of regular conversations. And helping managers break goals down to set them as shorter-term OKRs. It won't be an easy transition, so they'll need encouragement and confidence as they practice giving frequent feedback.

With Weekly10, the employee check-in's the start point for everything. Great conversations, improved performance and better employee engagement and wellbeing. But the culture change takes time, so start today by downloading our Best Practice Guide on How to start using an employee check-in and get managers on the path to change.