It's not enough for HR to recruit, train, develop, and motivate employees. It is also important for employees to be assessed or reviewed to know how they are doing. Read this section to learn about some methods for employee performance review.

Involuntary Termination

Before we leave this section, we should say a word or two about termination – getting fired. Though turnover – voluntary separations – can create problems for employers, they're not nearly as devastating as the effects of involuntary termination on employees. Losing your job is what psychologists call a "significant life change," and it's high on the list of "stressful life events" regardless of the circumstances. Sometimes, employers lay off workers because revenues are down and they must resort to downsizing – to cutting costs by eliminating jobs. Sometimes a particular job is being phased out, and sometimes an employee has simply failed to meet performance requirements.

Employment at Will

Is it possible for you to get fired even if you're doing a good job and there's no economic justification for your being laid off? In some cases, yes – especially if you're not working under a contract. Without a formal contract, you're considered to be employed at will, which means that both you and your employer have the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time. You can quit whenever you want (which is good for you), but your employer can fire you whenever it wants (which is obviously bad for you).

Fortunately for you, over the past several decades, the courts have undercut employers' rights under the employment-at-will doctrine. By and large, management can no longer fire employees at will: usually, employers must show just cause for termination, and in some cases, they must furnish written documentation to substantiate the reasons for terminating an employee. If it's a case of poor performance, the employee is generally warned in advance that his or her current level of performance could result in termination. As a rule, managers give employees who have been warned a reasonable opportunity to improve performance. When termination is unavoidable, it should be handled in a private conversation, with the manager explaining precisely why the action is being taken.