Too many companies have a policy that essentially commits to the employee that they will receive a formal performance appraisal annually…only to put it off, never actually providing anything more formal than a quick pat on the back. A good start to address this is to add some qualifying language that says the company will make every effort to formally communicate performance appraisals or similar. While you should focus on telling your employees how they are doing, stating you will do so without fail may get you in some trouble down the road.
Additionally, when appraisals are conducted, consider filing away a hard copy. The placement of the appraisal in the file allows for the employee to see it upon request, and also therefore dovetails with specific state laws (depending on the state, the law can be different) that require the company to provide access to and in some cases copies of the file to the employee / former employee upon request. With all of this in mind, keeping your employee file content like appraisals only on an electronic level could be troublesome down the road and therefore is not advised.