“People analytics” — the assessment of whether particular workers are suitable for particular kinds of employment or performing well at their jobs — is booming like never before. Everything that can be measured about us, whether via personality tests, biometrics or the big-data trails we leave in the cloud as we go about our work, is being captured and analyzed.
Proponents of “people analytics” say this new number crunching will lead to a fairer, more efficient workplace, in which employees are better suited to their jobs. They may be right. But critics worry about what happens to all the people who don’t make the grade in an algorithmically driven pure meritocracy. And they ask: In the long run, will it be healthy for society to run everything by the numbers?
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Max Simkoff, Evolv’s co-founder and CEO, told me that his company’s big-data crunching had revealed a stream of intriguing, contrarian results. For example, “people with a criminal background stay longer on the job and perform better at entry-level hourly jobs,” he said. Having “relevant experience” for a job didn’t track with later productivity. Indeed, the relative quality of a manager or supervisor was more important in influencing worker attrition and productivity than the background of the individual workers. Other useful insights — as reported by the Atlantic’s Don Peck in a comprehensive recent feature story, “They’re Watching You At Work” – include the nugget that educational attainment is not as big a factor in job success as the conventional wisdom believes. Another interesting data point: Being unemployed for a long period of time does not make you a worse worker, if hired.
Put it all together, says Simkoff, and you end up with a better world: Listening to the wisdom of the algorithm, he believes, results in a fairer workplace, less tainted by bias and discrimination. (“Your boss wants to be Nate Silver,” Andrew Leonard, Salon.com)
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I own the business. I am the boss. I took all the risk and did years of upfront work to create the business that employs YOU and makes me money. If you work hard and smart, you will be rewarded. If you don't, I will fire you. I don't owe you a job. And, I really don't need an expensive computer program to tell me if you are "good" or "bad" worker. I already know.
@Classica American You own the business. You are the boss. But somewhere deep down in you was a little boy who was bullied by his parents, who's reply was to decide to never let himself feel that way again, and to find others he could rage at unaccountably and upon whim.
We Salon readers recommend you stick to your sandbox; you wouldn't do well with us because we'd read the therapy you need, which would make you feel uneasy. And to fire us, you'd suddenly find excuse to buy that expensive computer program to find metrics and leverage to take down those who's crime was just to see you properly.
@Emporium@Classica American Wow...psychological counseling in the comments section.
@Classica American @Emporium
Take advantage of it while you can. You need it.
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I started the business. I am the boss. I took all the risk. I put up my money. I worked hard for over 20 years to build it up. If you work for me, and you work hard and smart, I will reward you. If you are lazy, late, high maintenance, embarrass the company, or provide no value added, I will fire you. The boot. I guarantee the liberals who read this will focus on my heavy handedness and complete ignore the "reward" part. Why? They only see other people's money though the green eyes of entitlement. I do not owe you a job. I do not owe you a raise. But, if you are loyal to my company, you and your family will prosper.
@Classica American I don't think so — they're focusing on the reward part too. Rewards and punishment are a paradigm out of being only conditionally loved. Parents punishing their children when they act out of line, and rewarding them when they conform with their wishes. It was just everywhere in the 19th-century, and a solid portion of the 20th — and obviously it's still just plain normal to a heck of a lot of people. But it's not what a lot of liberals knew at home, and they gaze at it — both parts — like they're looking at History.
Theirs was more complicated — and certainly the punishment part was way less stressed, and much less scary! The best even had it ideal, where rewards were given when their kids showed up their parents, revealed how limited, how stuck, they were — but as well, just how open their own growth would prove. Not just in what we normally think of as accomplishments — but in emotional tensility, in overall maturity, as well.
Of course, these types aren't really all that attracted to Capitalism anyway. They see it as out of only a conditional acceptance of people, as as interested in seeing people fail as succeed. They go more the Socialism route, which actually wants everyone to live rewarding lives. I don't mean USSR, I mean 60s communalism.
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The fear of more metrics is that it's part of a need to make managers akin to the likes of Zuckerberg or Nate Silver — that is, on the autistic spectrum, able to detach themselves from well registering other people's emotions.
I have no idea if there is a limit to what metrics might measure. Usually in history when I hear talk of them, it's always "the German psychologists vs. the humanist William James" – that is, one side being suspect because you can't trust that they're not actually afraid of human emotions and feeling, and it's that that has them so involved with emotion and human color-stripped numbers rather than their ability to reveal truths otherwise missed.
But truth is, the hippies were opposite of that — plenty emotion-registering, that is — and plenty has been written about how they're the ones responsible for the great 20th century computer/web development, so I don't necessarily think this must always be the full picture. In a genuine Utopia, metrics might be just an unambiguously helpful tool. But people like the above who's talking about its humanistic possibilities, we wouldn't see much of in Utopia. They're guards in a prison camp seeing all the improvement the new management measures are effecting. They'll be detached from experiencing the effects of their torture, as it's been normalized as simply ideal comportment — the best and most innovative, carry themselves exactly like that.
"We" obviously want to live in an environment for awhile where our leaders cannot feel our pain. We want them to be autistics who could be right up close, studying everything about us, but still be amazed later to learn that their subjects weren't happy as pie about the experience. McDonalds telling its employees how to budget for their nannies — managers doing this even, those up close. This is what concerns me.