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Are appraisals vital to protect the organisation from a legal perspective?

Despite a common belief within the status quo, annual appraisals do not adequately protect organisations from litigious employees. The legal protection they provide the organisation is overestimated and the damage they do to the organisation as a whole is underestimated for a number of reasons:

  1. Annual appraisals end up supporting employee cases just as much, if not more, than an employer’s (so there’s no net benefit of using them),
  2. “In fact, the people who sue are the ones with the positive comments in their file” (Samuel Culbert),
  3. Appraisals are part of a litany of tools that feed the overstretched, burned out culture of organisations - a frequent contributor to litigation problems.

By using legal protection as a justification for continuing company-wide appraisals we are ignoring the cultural and financial cost of this approach. If we want to record and keep paperwork on employees who are doing a bad job, then we are perfectly capable of doing that when it’s needed; why must everyone go through the same process? Given everyone knows the recording and signing of appraisals is intended to protect the organisation from litigation we must ask ourselves: what message does this send and is it worth it?

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  1. John Featherby

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