UCL Human Resources


Holding appraisals during lockdown

Guidance on the appraisal process during the lockdown period.

The coronavirus outbreak has dramatically shifted UCL’s immediate priorities over recent months, as everyone has pulled together to adapt to lockdown restrictions, remote working and online teaching. This, combined with the fact that many staff are facing additional challenges during the pandemic (e.g. increased caring responsibilities) means that objectives set in last year’s appraisals may not have been met.

Despite this, across the university, appraisal meetings should continue as far as possible. These meetings are a vital opportunity for managers and their staff to connect in a meaningful way, share reflections and appreciation, and discuss concerns in difficult times. This is especially true for staff who may have recently experienced bereavement, loss of household income, increased mental health issues or increased caring responsibilities. Regular team meetings should also continue to take place, as they help prevent colleagues from feeling detached while we’re working remotely, and make sure managers’ can offer consistent support to their staff.

The appraisal write up should include acknowledgment of any agreed adjustments to objectives, workload or working patterns, for individual members of staff. Where a barrier, such as the impact of COVID-19 or lockdown, may have impacted on an individual’s ability to meet agreed objectives from the previous year, it should not impact negatively on the individual in terms of demonstrating good performance over the past year. Nor should their revised working pattern/workload create a barrier to any learning and development opportunities which have been identified as part of the appraisal process.

There are some circumstances where it won’t be helpful to have an appraisal right now, including:

  • Where workload or caring responsibilities means that an appraisal would cause undue pressure on either the manager, or the person they are managing;

  • Where someone has been furloughed and therefore is not able to work;

  • Where future objectives are unclear due to the current context (although a conversation around a review of the previous year should still be useful).

Where this is the case, please postpone the individual’s appraisal until it’s realistically possible to reschedule them.

Note: We are aware of a problem with MyHR which means that appraisals can’t currently be recorded there. The systems team are working to fix this as soon as possible.