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Employee Experience

Employee evaluation forms: how to get started + free survey template

Ready to formalize – and standardize – your performance management process? Use these tips to create and customize an employee evaluation form that works for your organization.

Help your employees understand what’s expected of their performance with fair and consistent employee evaluations. Not sure where to begin? Here’s a closer look at the role employee evaluation forms play in the performance management process, the benefits of using an evaluation form, how often to evaluate your employees, and what to include on your own form.

Plus, we’ve included a sample template to help you get started.

What is an employee evaluation form?

Typically, an employee evaluation form contains the objectives, goals, and behaviors expected of an employee. As part of the performance review process, an employee evaluation form acts as the basis for the performance review conversation(s) a leader conducts with their people to assess work performance.

Completing and reviewing the employee evaluation form helps leaders identify and discuss a person’s strengths and weaknesses, offer constructive feedback for skills development, and assist with goal setting.

Why are employee evaluation forms important?

An employee evaluation form formalizes the performance review process, works to ensure fair and consistent criteria and scoring, and establishes a two-way conversation about performance expectations and deliverables between an employee and his or her leader.

Providing feedback with clear, positive language is the key to keeping the review goal-focused and productive. Writing performance reviews requires managers (and other raters) to be specific with their feedback, stay constructive, and provide solutions to help the employee grow.

“Leaders that proactively think about how to support employees and help them grow not only benefit the individual employee, but also the company.”

Some of the benefits of using an employee evaluation form include:

  • Aligning individual roles to business goals. An employee evaluation form underlines the organization’s vision and goals and illustrates to employees how their individual performance drives organizational performance.
  • Establishing a clear understanding of job roles. Clearly defined goals and metrics empower employees to understand their specific job duties. Documenting (and discussing) said goals and metrics on an employee evaluation form eliminates ambiguities and helps to hold employees accountable for their designated work and responsibilities.
  • Providing regular feedback about performance. Employee evaluation forms help identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, give employees a better understanding of the expectations that they are being held to.
  • Discussing career development. A complete employee evaluation form should also contain a section to discuss and plan for an employee’s career. Career development and aspiration discussions help leaders better understand and champion employees’ desires for training and mentoring.
  • Informing recognition and rewards. The employee evaluation form documents the outcomes and scores related to an employee’s job performance – two factors often used to inform annual bonus decisions, as well as other recognition and awards.

Performance management – and in its own right, the employee evaluation form – can be a motivational tool, encouraging employees not only to feel more satisfied in their work, but to go beyond what’s expected.

How often should employees be formally evaluated?

The performance review process varies from one organization to the next, but as a rule of thumb, employees should have formal evaluation discussions with their leaders at least once a year.

One common approach to the annual performance appraisal is the 360-degree feedback review. With this evaluation process, employees receive feedback not only from their managers, but also from their peers and junior team members. Employees often review themselves, as well, resulting in a 360-degree view of their strengths and accomplishments.

Some organizations believe in reviewing job performance more frequently. These organizations employ continuous feedback methods, preferring to share feedback with employees on a continual, ad hoc basis.

Falling somewhere between the once-annual performance review and the continual feedback approach, an employee pulse review is a smaller-scale employee review that’s conducted on a regular schedule, such as monthly or quarterly. Pulse feedback is most commonly associated with employee engagement surveys, but pulses also work well for sharing feedback as they offer clear measures and are quick and easy to complete.

“Despite the power and use of employee feedback for growth, development, and to improve performance, it can sometimes be challenging to provide it. Too often feedback is given a negative connotation, when at its core it’s simply about giving and receiving information.”

Marcus Wolf, Principal EX Consultant at Qualtrics

Learn how to give exceptional feedback in this comprehensive guide.

What should be included on an employee evaluation form?

Just like com­pa­ny cul­ture, an employee evaluation form will be unique and spe­cif­ic to your organization’s val­ues, goals, and pur­pose. However, there are a number of baseline components that every employee evaluation form should include:

  • Employee and reviewer information, such as names, employee IDs, job titles, and signatures.
  • The review period to determine the progress of an employee’s performance over time. This should include the time period being assessed, as well as the date of the review itself.
  • A rating system that’s easy to understand.
  • Goals should be established by both the man­ag­er and employ­ee. To maximize effectiveness, they should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) goals and tracked reg­u­lar­ly. Clearly defined metrics help employees work towards goal achievement.
  • A comments section allows both the employee and the leader to add verbatim comments regarding performance. The comments section also serves as a place to provide feedback or encouragement, as well as document individual challenges and accomplishments.
  • Signatures from both parties establish that the employee and manager acknowledge the contents of the employee evaluation form.

How to get started with a sample template

Employee evaluation forms don’t need to be lengthy to be effective. Here’s a quick template that can act as the foundation for your evaluation form. Add or take away questions to fit your organization and team.

Sample template

Q1 Overall how do you rate this individual's performance based on your expectations for the role?

Design note - Use a rating scale of 1-5: 1 Significantly below expectations, 2 Below expectations, 3 Meets expectations, 4 Above expectations, 5 Significantly above expectations

  • Functional expertise (Performs his or her assigned duties with competence; achieves his/her objectives even when faced with obstacles and challenges.)
  • Communication (Actively listens to others; tailors his/her communication to the needs of the audience; communicates clearly and concisely.)
  • Customer focus (Prioritizes his/her work based on the needs of the organization and its customers.)
  • Adaptability (Demonstrates flexibility to changing priorities and situations.)
  • Problem solving (Works through work-related problems, taking a variety of perspectives and solutions into consideration before executing.)
  • Teamwork (Collaborates effectively with other team members; gives constructive and helpful feedback to others; treats others with respect.)
  • Leadership (Takes team members’ ideas and opinions into account when making decisions; helps team members resolve work-related problems; holds team members accountable for achieving their objectives.)

Design note - Use open text/verbatim comment boxes for Q2 - Q5

Q2 Indicate the competency in which this individual most excels at, providing examples and an explanation as to why.

Q3 What can this individual do to continue to grow?

Q4 What has this individual accomplished this year that has had the biggest impact on team and organizational success?

Q5 What areas of improvement exist for this individual? (Include any training that would help with career development and growth.)

Take your employee evaluations to the next level with our ultimate guide to performance review