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Ditch the review

  • Phil Harwood, CSP
- Posted: December 12, 2018

Finding qualified labor remains one of the most significant challenges for many, but not all, snow contractors. Some contractors have solved the puzzle that seems impossible to the rest. What are they doing that the rest are not? They’ve made one of many changes, but one in particular is significant and worth exploring.

Being driven by the millennial generation, which comprises 40% of today’s workforce, emerging expectations are reshaping how companies relate to their people. They have everything to do with employee engagement and retention. Companies with no labor issues today embrace these changes. Are you willing to do the same?

Employee engagement

Gallup research indicates that 60% of millennials are actively looking for a new job and that 93% say that the last time they changed roles, they left their employer to do so. What does it tell you about employee engagement when over half of all millennials are open to jumping ship for a lateral move? Employers need labor, but are they taking seriously the need to engage the people they already have working for them?

One of these emerging trends is to move away from infrequent, formal reviews once per year to ongoing, informal conversations between supervisors and their direct reports. When supervisors at all levels, including crew leaders, are able to provide such feedback, it changes everything. Of course, the best supervisors provide ongoing, informal feedback without any effort or prodding by the company. These natural leaders understand how critical it is to clarify expectations, express appreciation and redirect misplaced efforts on a daily basis. Unfortunately, these leaders are the exception, not the rule.

According to Gallup, only 2% of employees report receiving performance feedback on a weekly basis, while a staggering 74% report receiving feedback on their performance once a year or less. Only 17% of employees report receiving any type of routine feedback, and only 19% report that this feedback is meaningful. Forty-six percent of millennials report that they do not know how to prioritize their responsibilities at work.

The need to provide ongoing, informal feedback is clear. Will you step up to the challenge?

Reviewing reviews

Employers still providing traditional annual performance reviews might be surprised to learn that only 14% of employees strongly agree their reviews inspire them to improve and only 29% strongly agree their performance reviews are fair. The following statement sums it up quite succinctly:

“For employees, annual performance reviews are like walking into the unknown: sitting down for a long meeting with a manager they may not have talked to in a while, trying to remember what goals they set months ago, defending mistakes they can’t fix and figuring out how to bring up pay in a way that isn’t awkward.”

When was the last time you had a candid conversation with each of your direct reports about their performance, expectations or priorities?

Do you naturally express appreciation, or do you need to be reminded or prodded? What would happen if you and your supervisors began to embrace a new generation with a new expectation? You just might solve your labor issue one conversation at a time.

Phil Harwood, CSP is founder of GrowTheBench and member of the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee. Contact him at

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