19 Must-Have Features of Employee Performance Review Software

by Mike Tannian on June 06, 2024

Discover how performance appraisal software built for the public sector can help agencies increase retention, boost productivity, and save time and money.

Article Highlights

Employee performance review software is built by a company of people: leaders, product managers, developers, etc. These people influence the development and functionality of the software. 

As obvious as this sounds, there’s a deeper point – every software has an operational philosophy based on the people who designed or developed it. Its features and functionality tell you what that philosophy is. For example, they tell you what the company believes is the best way to manage performance reviews. The question your agency needs to ask is “does that philosophy align with ours?” 

This is a tricky question to answer. On one hand, you need to be open to change, realizing your current processes may not adhere to best practices. On the other hand, you need software that will complement your agency’s culture and ideal workflows. 

The most obvious example is private vs. public sector technology. Some software works well for both sectors, but government agencies often have unique challenges and needs. A software solution built by a private sector company for other private sector companies may operate from a fundamentally different philosophy.

That’s why your agency needs to understand its needs. Audit your current employee evaluation processes to identify strengths and weaknesses. Review the list of features below to see which ones could benefit your agency. Armed with this information, you’ll be ready to select the right performance review software for your organization.

19 Must-Have Features

The features below are loosely organized into categories based on the needs of most public sector agencies. Keep reading to learn which features you should be looking for in performance evaluation software (in no particular order).

Modernize Your Evaluation Processes

1. Automatic Data Entry

Most agencies still create evaluation forms manually, including inputting employee information by hand: name, address, job title, employee number, etc. Some employee performance review software will integrate with your HRMS system, which allows for automatic data entry on things like evaluation forms to save you time.

2. Standardized Templates

Evaluation templates and rubrics standardize the review process across different roles and departments. These templates ensure consistency, eliminate subjectivity, and save time, while also allowing for customization. They ensure that all employees are rated fairly and consistently by the same criteria, which helps your supervisors avoid unconscious bias.

With rubric-based evaluation templates, managers can specify the standards required to achieve specific performance ratings. This provides a quantifiable measurement to assess performance based on whether an employee has met their goals or not.

3. Evaluation Types

Your evaluation software should include templates for multiple types of evaluations: annual reviews, bi-annual reviews, quarterly reviews, probationary reviews, performance improvement plan (PIP) reviews, and any other kind of review process your organization needs.

4. Writing Assistant

A writing assistant feature aids managers in crafting clear and constructive feedback. Some systems provide a language filter to block certain personal descriptive words that could cause offense. With a language filter, spell check, and grammar editor, employee performance review software helps maintain professionalism in all evaluations.

5. Bulk Actions

Employee assessment software lets you complete actions in bulk, such as creating or archiving evaluation forms for every employee at once. Depending on the software, you may also be able to do the following:

  • Notify employees and managers about upcoming evaluations
  • Manage repetitive and time-sensitive tasks
  • Update information or create goals for multiple employees at once
  • Update and change managers for multiple employees 
  • Bulk upload documents, like past evaluations, to an employee's profile

6. Central Hub

With a central hub, all of your employees’ information and documentation is available in a single platform so you can easily track, update, and manage it. Say goodbye to shared drives with limited access and chasing down paper documents and emails.

7. Rating System

Your software solution should allow for different types of feedback:

    • Self Rating: This empowers employees to assess their own performance and provides valuable insights into their self-perception and areas of confidence.
    • Peer Rating: By allowing colleagues to provide feedback, managers get a 360-degree view of an employee’s performance.
    • Multiple Raters: This feature allows input from various supervisors and team members, reducing the risk of individual bias.
    • Numeric & Non-Numeric Rating: Numeric ratings offer quantifiable measures of performance, while non-numeric ratings allow for more descriptive feedback, providing a comprehensive assessment tool.

8. Mobile App

A mobile app ensures that performance review processes are accessible anytime, anywhere. This feature supports remote and flexible working environments, allowing employees and managers to engage with performance management on the go.

Create Employee Goals Strategically


9. Employee Goal Setting

As the name states, this feature lets you add employee goals that strategically align with department- and agency-wide objectives. As overarching goals trickle down to the daily tasks of employees, staff productivity and morale will both improve.

10. Employee Goal Tracking

No matter how strategic, employee goals mean very little if they aren’t tracked. Employee performance review software lets you filter and track goals by department, employees, due date, and evaluation type. You can also compare employee KPIs against other team members to identify skill gaps and training needs.

11. Job Competencies

Employee performance needs to be measured against job-specific competencies – the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that are critical to successful job performance. Your software solution should allow you to create job competencies with clear definitions and assign them to employees.

Improve Employee-Manager Relationships


12. Approval Workflows

Approval workflows ensure that evaluations pass through the necessary levels of review and approval before being finalized. This allows for a structured review process where supervisors and HR personnel can approve or request modifications to performance appraisals. Unfortunately, this feature is rare to find in performance evaluation software.

13. Automatic Notifications

Thanks to automatic reminders and overdue notifications, performance management software ensures that everyone completes evaluations on time. You can schedule automatic email reminders to staff when the evaluation cycle begins, as well as regular reminders for those who have yet to finish their reviews.

14. Journal Entries

Journal entries allow managers to provide consistent, documented feedback to employees throughout the year in one centralized place. These notes can be referenced before and during annual reviews to help prevent recency bias.

15. 360-Degree Reviews

Managers should have a good sense of their employees’ abilities, but even the most engaged managers can’t see everything. 360-degree reviews gather feedback from all directions – supervisors, peers, subordinates, and self-assessments. This holistic approach provides a comprehensive view of an employee’s performance, fostering balanced and multifaceted evaluations.

16. Employee Surveys

Employee performance review software should include a survey feature. This lets you gather feedback on (and from) employees without requiring formal reviewers. You can even send surveys to people outside the agency like citizens, contractors, etc.

Analytics & Reporting


17. Employee Performance Dashboard

Any employee assessment software worth its salt will include an easy-to-use dashboard, but it’s surprisingly uncommon in the marketplace. 

A dashboard provides a visual summary of performance data and metrics. This feature offers at-a-glance insights into key performance metrics, helping managers and HR professionals quickly act on performance trends and provide course correction to struggling employees ASAP.

18. Data Analytics & Reporting

Without data analytics and reporting, you can’t see agency or department trends. You can’t identify small issues before they become big problems. The right software solution will remedy this with standard and custom reports:

    • Approval Status: Show active, archived, or specific evaluations by the due date or a particular date range.
    • Current vs. Historical Overall Performance: Compare overall performance ratings from the current year with previous years.
    • Employee Goals: Generate reports for goals and associated information. Users can enter the name of any goal they have access to and report specifically on that goal, as well as the goals aligned with it.
    • And much more!

Employee performance review software should also let you save and export reports as CSV, Excel, or PDF files for additional analysis.

19. Performance Review Report Automation

Most managers wouldn’t argue the benefits of frequent performance reviews. The problem is they’re time consuming. That’s why your software should automate the creation of performance review reports. This saves time and allows supervisors to conduct employee evaluations more frequently.

Next Steps

Every performance review software has an operational philosophy based on the people who designed or developed it. As your agency evaluates vendors, consider if their philosophy aligns with yours. Was their software built for the public sector? Does it have the features listed above?

Although the list above isn’t exhaustive, it includes most of the necessary features public sector agencies need. Perform, NEOGOV’s performance management software, includes each of the features above (and more). Not only that, it was designed to solve the specific challenges facing state and local government agencies. 

Schedule a no-obligation appointment today to learn how Perform can help your agency automate and streamline the performance review process.

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Director of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value to public sector HR professionals at every stage in the buying journey.

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