Performance management is the process of establishing goals and measuring performance against these goals.
Implementing a formal performance management process can help you:
- retain your best employees
- give employees reason to maintain or improve their good performance
- decrease poor performance
- attract skilled and productive staff.
As an employer, you may have questions about the performance management process when it involves an employee with disability.
Below you will find a summary of the main issues relating to performance management followed by some specific details relating to managing an employee with disability.
What is an effective performance management plan?
A performance management plan documents the agreed performance targets for an employee and contains information about how performance will be measured against these targets.
An effective performance management plan:
documents the agreed performance management process
allows you to objectively measure performance against clearly outlined expectations
provides tangible benefits to both employers and employees
is closely aligned with the business strategy of the organisation
can support regular two way communication about an employee’s role.
What are the benefits of the performance management process?
The benefits of an effective management performance process include:
- staff members clearly understand what is expected of them
- managers have a professional framework within which to discuss both positive and negative aspects of an employee’s performance
- regular communication sessions provide opportunities for objective discussion of the role and opportunities for changes
- job satisfaction, productivity and employer loyalty to the business are likely to increase as employees feel that their work is recognised and valued
- staff who are not performing well have problem areas clearly identified and are given the opportunity to improve
- situations of underperformance are addressed early and unfair dismissal claims are minimised.
What to consider when assessing the performance of an employee with disability
Performance management for employees with disability is really no different to performance management for other employers. The focus should be on their ability to perform the inherent requirements of the job.
Things to consider when managing performance of employees with disability include:
- do employees with disability have the same access to training and development opportunities as other staff?
- are performance review criteria based on agreed, clear and visible outcomes?
- are performance assessments based on evidence of a person’s ability to carry out the inherent requirements of their particular job?
- are staff given the information and resources they need to carry out the requirements of the job?
- have reasonable adjustments been made in the workplace to allow an employee with disability to perform their job?
More information on reasonable adjustment and workplace modifications and adjustments is available through these links:
Managing the performance of employees with mental illness
The workplace comprises people from diverse cultures and backgrounds with a range of health conditions, of which mental illness will be one. Every organisation should ensure that all employees, regardless of life circumstances or background, have a manageable workload. Too much work may cause stress and affect every person's physical or mental health. Similarly, standards of work performance practices and behaviours apply to all staff, regardless of whether or not they have an illness or disability. So too do work performance management practices.
It is good management practice to meet with staff regularly, one-on-one, to discuss their job and any changes or issues they should know about. Most employees appreciate feedback about their work and areas for improvement.
Some factors to consider while talking with a person with mental illness about their work performance include:
- Interaction with coworkers
- Their ability to be dependable (including options available for flexibility in the workplace)
- Personal appearance
- The ability to take feedback from coworkers and supervisors
People with mental illness can have self esteem issues which may impact on their ability to accept feedback. Some suggestions to aide in the process include:
- Ask them if they would like a mentor present when feedback is being given
- Ask for the employee's perspective on their performance
- Give employee the chance to read written feedback privately and then discuss
If you are concerned that a person's mental health may be affecting their work then you should discuss it with them as soon as possible in this regular catch-up time. Ideally, the employee will approach you if they are becoming unwell and they cannot meet the requirements of their role. The employer should explain that there are accommodations or flexible practices that may be available to them, but the employee must also pursue medical treatment to assist their recovery. Encourage the staff member to take appropriate sick leave when needed.
If the employee does not want to discuss mental health matters then the focus should be on appropriate behaviours and effective work performance, and strategies to improve their performance.
For advice on managing the performance of employees with mental illness, see our fact sheet using the link below:
Workplace supports for employees with disability
Employment Assistance Fund
The Employment Assistance Fund provides financial assistance to pay for the cost of workplace adjustments or solutions if they are needed, to accommodate a worker with disability.
Supported Wage System
If an employee is unable to work at full wage rates due to the effect of disability on their workplace productivity, the Supported Wage System may be appropriate.
The Supported Wage System is a process that allows employers to pay less than the award wage by matching a person's productivity with a fair wage. With the Supported Wage System, eligible people with disability can access a reliable process of productivity-based wage assessment to determine fair pay for fair work.
When things get tricky
If an employee is supported by a Disability Employment Services Provider, there is expert help available on the job if performance management issues develop.
If an employee’s job is at risk because of issues related to their disability and they are not currently being supported by a Disability Employment Services Provider, you may still be able to access immediate, short term support through ‘job in jeopardy’ assistance.
Contact the JobAccess Advisers on 1800 464 800 for advice about managing performance for employees with disability.