From years of systemic discrimination, learned behaviors, and prejudiced cultures and values, our brains often jump to conclusions about certain groups of people, whether we realize it or not.
And these unconscious biases are stronger than we think. According to renowned neuroscientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Erik Kandel, 80-90% of our decisions and judgements are formed unconsciously.
When these biases leak into the workplace, they can have serious repercussions on culture and performance. Furthermore, when your team doesn’t feel that they can show up as themselves and with the full breadth of their ideas and creativity, both your people and business suffer.
Gallup estimates that employees who experience bias are three times more likely to be disengaged at work, costing companies around $450-$550 billion annually. It’s rare these employees stay; those who are discriminated against are also more than three times as likely to leave their current jobs within the year.
So how do we effectively combat bias in the workplace?
While there is no single, definitive answer, there are a series of steps that can help prevent discrimination. One important way is by creating a fair, objective performance review process — something that has traditionally been imperfect in organizations of all shapes and sizes. By refining performance review initiatives to increase impartiality and facilitate equity, companies can help ensure fairness at every level.
Again, prioritizing equality at work is a holistic initiative, so the following strategy is only a place to start. However, this crucial step can make a serious impact. Below are four ways how an objective performance review initiative can help combat bias in the workplace.
The nature of performance reviews has been largely subjective. When our unconscious biases come into play — whether they’re towards race, gender, ethnicity, ability, or otherwise — they can hold people back from growing professionally.
With employee evaluations, there’s simply no room for subjectivity. That’s why it’s important to give employees and teams clear goals, objectives, and KPIs from the start. Therefore, when performance review time rolls around, your people know the concrete expectations.
With a people operations platform with performance management functionality, hiring managers can create and share these definitive objectives with their teams. Be sure to keep the following in mind:
Employees are unsatisfied with the traditional annual review cycle. A study by Adobe notes that nearly 60% of employees believe that having a review once a year has “no impact” on their performance. Instead, ongoing feedback is preferred; 76% of employees would like to have monthly conversations about their work.
ChartHop supports continuous, contextual performance management and empowers teams with the data they need to uncover biases in their review process.
Implementing continuous and comprehensive reviews can help managers have more fair and valuable conversations with their employees about performance. Why? Simply knowing employees and what’s going on in their personal and professional lives can help prevent bias and spark more extensive audits.
Luckily, a performance management tool allows you to:
Oftentimes, reviews use an arbitrary rating scale to measure how well people are performing in the workplace. But simply assigning a number or an adjective to someone’s performance doesn’t promote success. Instead, people need specific, granular feedback to address issues and inspire growth.
When it comes to using performance reviews to combat bias, provide a space for constructive and explicit feedback. Then, consider the following:
Performance reviews are valuable, but employees still need ongoing support in other areas if they’re going to succeed. From career pathing and professional development, your people need a space to consistently turn to if you want them to succeed.
The right people operations platform will also have an employee experience portal, which allows your people to:
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single answer to stopping implicit bias from creeping into the office. But knowing the role performance reviews play in perpetuating bias and deliberately designing them to be more objective is a good first step.
Ultimately, use performance reviews as a springboard to fostering a more equitable workplace. With the help of technology, you can set the foundation for inspiring fairness across business operations and giving your employees a place to thrive.
Sign up for a free demo today.