Insights | 5 min read

How Do Managers Describe Their Best And Worst Staff? Our Analysis Of 13,000+ Employee Reviews

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By The Nowsta Team,

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What do managers say about their favorite employees? You know, the ones who go above and beyond, delight every client, and give it their all from clock in ‘til clock out? And what do they say about those who don’t live up to (or fall far below) that standard?

You probably have a few ideas. But we can tell you definitively what managers say about their best and worst staff, based on an analysis of over 13,000 real life employee reviews.

How we did it

We pulled all the data analyzed here directly from the Nowsta platform. Nowsta is a staff management platform that our customers use to schedule shifts, track employees’ hours, and run payroll faster. 

In addition, Nowsta allows managers to track employee performance more easily. After every shift an employee works, managers have the opportunity to rate their performance on a 1 to 5 star scale and, if they want, include a written review as well. 

We pulled over 13,000 written reviews for this article and split them up into two categories — reviews attached to 4 or 5 star rated shifts make up our batch of highly-rated staff, while reviews attached to 1 or 2 stars reviewed — a much lower percentage of the overall pool, to be clear — make up our batch of low-rated staff. We then ran the reviews through a language analysis tool, identified the most frequently used words in each batch, and organized them into word clouds. Read on to see the most commonly used words in good and bad employee reviews, plus examples of real, anonymized reviews to get more context. 

How managers describe highly-rated staff

Word mix formed into brain

Top 10 words used in employee reviews for highly-rated staff:

  1. Great
  2. Help
  3. Good
  4. Always
  5. Hard
  6. Worker
  7. Attitude
  8. Well
  9. Ask
  10. Awesome

Right away, we see a lot of positive words on this list: Great, good, awesome, etc. The word “always” appears as well, implying that consistency is just as important as high performance on any given day. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the words “hard,” and “worker” appear nearly an equal number of times, implying (as we can confirm) that they frequently come one after the other. Below are a few sample reviews where you can see these words used in context.

Sample employee reviews for highly-rated staff

Quick learner, great to work with. Needs raise.

“Absolutely amazing! Takes direction well, shows a lot of initiative, willingly helped supervisor reorganize entire back room at the venue.” 

“A**** is a good server..needs some more time learning some things but that will come with some more experience working on shifts..good attitude”

“Always a great attitude and hard worker”

“Always asked what she could do next! Did a great job!”

“AMAZING! Will be a great asset to our team and an awesome lead!”

How managers describe low-rated staff

Bad words mix formed into brain

Top 10 words used in employee reviews for highly-rated staff:

  1. Time
  2. Ask
  3. Attitude
  4. Late
  5. Out
  6. Told
  7. Show
  8. Phone
  9. Task
  10. Help

The negative staff reviews make it clear how important soft details like attitude, punctuality, and a professional attitude are to job success along with just hard skills. Managers complain most about having to repeatedly ask staff to complete tasks, show up on time, and get off their phones — all of which tie into the theme of attitude. 

Sample employee reviews for low-rated staff

“10 minutes late. I’ve noticed her late 5 times just in last month. Needs consistent urging from lead to work harder.”

“Asked if she could leave early at the onset of the event…”

“Constantly on her phone. Had to be asked multiple times to help clear. Bad attitude.” 

“Unwilling to help out when needed”

“Needs to learn how to look around and see what needs to be done.  Takes direction but often distracted….. by his phone.”

“Sitting down often, needed to be asked a few times to do a task until completion. On phone.”

“Terrible attitude. Never willing to help out.”

Know your staff

Aggregated data is great, but what do managers at your company say about your staff? Who are your top performers? Who needs more training? Nowsta has the answers. Sign up for a demo today and learn how our platform can elevate your company’s staff management processes.