Fact Checked

What Are Job Performance Standards?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

Job performance standards are minimum levels of productivity or accomplishment that employees must maintain to remain employed and to receive full compensation. For some jobs, this simply means maintaining a minimum level of productivity, such as producing or selling a certain number of products in a given period of time. For other jobs, including many white-collar office jobs, it is impossible to measure raw productivity. In such cases, job performance tends to be based on other factors, including quality of work, timeliness, and efficiency. Many businesses have formalized lists of job performance standards to ensure that employees have a clear idea of the expectations of their employers.

Employers consider a variety of different factors when drafting or revising a list of job performance standards. Such lists are almost never subjectively based on the individual employees, but rather are objectively based on the positions that the employees hold. A list of job performance standards tends to include information about what a good job should look like, how long it should take, and how much must be done in a given amount of time. Other considerations may be related to safety and attitude toward superiors and toward other employees. While standards tend to vary based on specific jobs, many companies also have minimum standards of decorum that all employees are expected to follow.

Safety standards are often part of job performance standards in more hazardous jobs.
Safety standards are often part of job performance standards in more hazardous jobs.

Failure to follow an employer's job performance standards may result in punishments as mild as a reprimand or as severe as job loss. In some cases, the punishment is worse with each successive offense. In others, specific failures to follow job performance standards are met with different punishments based on the nature of the offense. It is rare for employers to fire employees, particularly new ones, who fail to follow the standards only a single time. It is also rare for employers to put up with repeated offenses, particularly when they negatively impact the business's productivity.

Some job performance standards have little to do with the actual jobs and are instead related to the manner in which employees interact. Employees who act in an offensive or discriminatory manner can have severely deleterious effects on the harmony of any given workplace. Indirectly, such problems can have negative effects on productivity or quality of work. Businesses, therefore, often have job performance standards intended to make antagonism from employees punishable. While a first offense may result only in a reprimand, employers often have little tolerance for such behavior from employees.

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Discussion Comments


@ddljohn-- That's right, but it's much easier to assess an employee if the output can be counted.

I also want to emphasize that employers can't just explain the standards to the employee and then do a performance review at the end of the year and fire him or decide to keep him. Job performance assessment and feedback has to take place periodically and the employee has to be given the opportunity to improve his performance.


@anamur-- But aren't job standards simply the job responsibilities and duties?

The employer already decides on the standards when that job opening is created. If the employee fulfills those standards, then he or she is performing well.


I work for a performance evaluation team for government agencies. It is extremely difficult to evaluate performance in the public sector. I completely agree with the article on this.

There are performance evaluations in white-collar jobs, but no one is quite sure how to put together evaluations that show how that employee is performing. This is why it is very difficult to fire public sector employees.

This is all an issue of measurability. Not all jobs are equally measurable and so the standards of performance also depend on what is measurable and what is not.

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    • Safety standards are often part of job performance standards in more hazardous jobs.
      By: Halfpoint
      Safety standards are often part of job performance standards in more hazardous jobs.