- Jessica Alexander

One of the hard truths of managing teams is that, at some point, you will lose at least one of your best employees. And as difficult as it is to see them leave to work for a competitor, it is even worse to see them leave the environmental services industry altogether. We all miss out when skilled drillers and technical specialists opt out of working in this field.

So what can we do to minimize turnover of our best employees? In this blog post, I’ll explain how you can optimize your performance reviews not only for employee improvement, but also for employee retention.



Goal setting is often part of the onboarding process for new hires, but this crucial step can sometimes fall by the wayside for our existing employees. Annual reviews alone won’t cut mustard. It’s important to meet with existing employees regularly—at least every six months—to discuss goals and progress.

When setting goals, following the SMART model will ensure that the goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based (hence the “SMART” acronym). You’ll also want to consider your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs) when setting individual goals so each employee’s efforts are aligned to the company’s goals.  

Now, why is goal setting important for retention? The vast majority of employees crave feedback, and want to know how they can adjust their behaviors or actions to be more successful in their role. Without this information, they may not feel aligned to company objectives or, just as bad, they may not feel properly prepared to excel. Setting and communicating clear goals and defining how their success will be measured provides stability and predictability. Employees who feel rooted with their organization’s success are statistically more likely to experience higher job satisfaction—which also translates to stronger loyalty to the company.



After goals are set and the performance review cadence is scheduled, it’s important for managers to continue communicating with employees regarding goals and expectations. Consider scheduling monthly or quarterly check-ins with your employees to discuss goal progress, performance, strengths, or areas for improvement. These conversations don’t have to be formal, and probably shouldn’t be! Consider them as an informal way to communicate any praise or concerns you have, as well as listening to feedback the employee may want to share.

Don’t rush these check-ins. This is where you have the best chance of detecting if an employee is feeling motivated and excited about their work, or if they’re discouraged and more vulnerable to another job opportunity. Listen for opportunities to make their work experience a better one—they may not spell it out for you, but if you’re paying attention you’ll catch their pain points and can begin addressing them.



Another way leaders can use the performance review process to facilitate retention is by implementing a form of 360-degree feedback. This gives employees the opportunity to provide feedback about co-workers, managers, and themselves.

A performance feedback method that facilitates top-down and bottom-up communication is more likely to be well received by employees. It not only allows managers to give direction on performance improvement, but it empowers employees to share aspects of the work environment that may be impacting their performance (i.e., the teamwork of other employees, leadership directives and styles of managers, etc.). Encouraging this type of open communication in relation to performance can be a great way to show employees they are valued members of the organization, and you care about their insights.


By a few small tweaks to your performance review process, you may be able to significantly improve your company’s employee retention. Setting clear and measurable goals, communicating frequently, and listening to feedback facilitates a two-way performance discussion that can build trust and more committed employees.

Questions? Contact our Director of Talent Acquisition, Jessica Alexander, for more information about how to leverage performance reviews for employee retention. She can be reached at [email protected]

Related Resources