Bluechips rope in HR firms to help with performance reviews

Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 3 2011, 07:40am hrs
Employees at some of India's top-notch firms will be in for a surprise as their annual performance reviews draw closer. Besides their superiors, an external firm too will assess their performance. The appraisal process will be over only after both reviews are compared.

Several companies, including PepsiCo, Essar Group, Hindustan Unilever, ICICI Bank, Wipro and Punj Lloyd, have hired external HR consultants for the purpose. Mercer, Saville & Holdsworth and Aon-Hewitt are among firms which have been tapped for external assessment of employee performance.

Human resource experts said external firms help at two levels: One, the process provides the in-house HR teams external tools of assessment and two, it checks certain biases and prejudices that may creep into the in-house appraisal process.

Says Adil Malia, group president, HR, Essar Group: Our internal assessment and third-party assessment are given equal weightage when it comes to taking a final decision on an employee's performance. The group recently hired UK-based Saville & Holdsworth to help with the appraisal process. Malia adds that external assessment is usually considered for middle-and senior-level management positions, which is where he says it matters more.

Engineering firm Punj Lloyd has hired Mercer as its external appraisal firm. Says Sidharth Tuli, group president, HR, Punj Lloyd: We use third-party assessments for employees in the middle management and above for promotions. However, for development purposes, it is done at all levels.

Ajay Soni, regional practice leader (leadership practice), Asia-Pacific, Aon Hewitt Consulting says most companies in their 'top company of leaders' study use third-party assessment for promotions. These include Infosys, PepsiCo, HUL, Wipro, ICICI Bank and Aditya Birla Group.

In the last 18 months, we have seen the trend of companies using external agencies in the appraisal process even at junior levels. Prior to this, companies used third-party assessment only for middle- and senior-management employees. Third party assessment is a little more transparent than internal assessment for promotion, recession planning or career development planning of employees, Soni added.