What the Public Sector Can Learn About Private Sector Innovations in Performance Reviews

For public sector agencies to remain productive and efficient, managing employee performance reviews and providing feedback are vital.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced many challenges for both private and public sector entities. It’s important to adapt the employee performance review process for hybrid work environments to adequately assess how employees are performing and provide support.

Adobe and Google recently announced changes they made to the structure of their performance reviews. What can public sector organizations learn from these recent changes to create more effective performance reviews for remote employees and those who remain in the office?

Commonalities and Differences in How Google and Adobe Updated Their Performance Management Models

Google and Adobe both have differences and similarities in the changes they made to their employee performance review process.


Both Google and Adobe seem to know that the employee experience is important. Their changes aim to lessen the burden of the performance review process on workers. The common changes they’re making include:

  • More frequent check-ins
  • Timely feedback
  • Renewed focus on learning and development
  • A move away from the bi-annual performance review systems that tend to make workers feel undervalued


Surveys have shown that The Great Resignation has significantly affected Google. Google has changed its employee performance review process to waste less time by using a model called Google Reviews and Development (GRAD). It focuses on employee learning and development and includes regular feedback and check-ins with employees and a new once-a-year review system.

The main goal is to make regular reviews less of a burden on workers by changing from twice-a-year evaluations to once-a-year reviews. The company hopes to streamline the whole review process with big changes including increased pay for employees, which has been a key concern for Google employees.

Adobe, on the other hand, is permanently allowing employees to work in hybrid arrangements or remotely. The company changed to a hybrid performance review model because its broader global footprint and workforce continue to grow. Adobe now requires a digital-first performance review and has a new check-in process. The company’s primary goal is to focus on continued conversations with a consistent, centralized location of resources for all employees. Here they can document their goals, map out career ambitions and discuss performance with managers.

How Do They Compare to the Public Sector?

Most public sector agencies know that performance management works best as far as providing feedback, support and training to employees. It’s a multi-faceted holistic approach to meeting organizational goals while effectively managing workers.

Public sector employee experience is vital to every agency's mission. Through training, support and feedback, organizations can create a supportive environment. But there's more to it than that. Organizations also need to focus on the emotional experience of employees. Managing employee performance today in a hybrid work environment requires agencies to focus on the total experience. With that comes changes to the review process.

Public sector organizations can take cues from Google and Adobe to improve and refine the review process to focus more on employee performance. Performance management isn’t just about providing feedback to employees—it’s about helping them succeed in a very different work environment than the previous one before the pandemic.

Simplifying the review process and focusing on learning and development and a positive workplace culture increases employee satisfaction and productivity. Small changes can make a big difference and a strong work culture matters to employees. It increases employee retention and improves employee performance and engagement.

"Company before self" used to be the motto of many private and public sector entities. Employees were trained to work hard for the success of the organization without much thought to their well-being. But that was the old way of doing things.

To move away from this way of doing things, agencies should shift the focus of evaluations to the employee. This is a better approach as opposed to how the employee can support the organization's goals better. If agencies focus on how the company and each employee can work together to achieve their shared goals, workers will feel more supported and have a better overall experience.

Key Takeaways in Employee Performance Reviews

Adobe and Google have taken extraordinary measures to change the way they manage employee experience in a hybrid work environment. Employee career aspirations are just as important as achieving company goals, so organizations should work with employees to succeed.

Changing from focusing on how the employee can support the company to a mutually satisfactory relationship will increase efficiency and improve the overall experience to solve many worker retention issues.

Work environments are dynamic and require some flexibility and adaptation, as the COVID-19 pandemic taught us. But these changes can make a world of difference in employee satisfaction and can make work culture in public sector organizations even better.  Learn more about the best strategies for managing performance remotely and in a hybrid work environment for better results.

Regina W. Romeo

Ms. Romeo has more than 20 years of experience in public sector human resources as an analyst, manager and director. In her role as Chief Human Resources Officer, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day HR operations and organizational development for CPS while also consulting and managing special projects for clients. Regina has worked for both large and small public sector agencies and brings a unique perspective and real-world experience to her role.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.