Amazon isn't the only company that is using data on employees to improve productivity. Companies, both large and small, have been moving away from traditional human resources reviews that rely on annual performance evaluations. They're moving toward a more data-driven approach with more frequent feedback, check-ins, and other metrics.
"Every company is somewhere in process toward using data to get a better handle on who their top performers are and to understand where people stand," said John Challenger, CEO of outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Paul Hamerman, a Forrester analyst who focuses on human resources management and financial applications, says the future may look more like what Glint Inc., based in Redwood City, Calif., is offering clients. The company, with clients including music-streaming site Pandora and marketing automation company Marketo, sends employees what it calls "pulses," or short surveys about how they are feeling and how they feel about their job.
Glint CEO Jim Barnett said the surveys let executives see how the health of their employees and company are faring in real time, in the same speed with which they might be able to check sales results or marketing impressions. "The old mentality was once a year we would check in with an annual survey, have an annual review, set goals," said Barnett. "What we've learned is the world today moves much faster than that."
The downside to a data-driven approach is that it can seem "Big Brother-ish" to staffers. But Glint said the surveys that the company sends out have an 80 to 85 percent response rate. "Employees tend to be willing to share," Barnett said.