Ending Hidden Bias in the Employee Journey

Creating a diverse and inclusive culture at work is a top priority for most organizations. However, even with the best intentions, any organization can have hidden biases that can come into play throughout the employee journey. Experts have found that unconscious bias drives up to 99% of behaviors simply because of how the mind handles the thousands of quick decisions it must make each day. Using the information at hand combined with past experiences, people make assumptions about others that may not be accurate. Finding ways to overcome hidden bias throughout the employee journey will increase employee engagement, improve retention, and improve revenue.

Hidden Bias in Recruiting

Hidden bias is very prevalent in traditional hiring processes. Practices like only hiring from internal referrals can cause similarity bias and create a lack of diversity. A hiring manager may find they are more impressed by the candidate they interviewed early in the day than a similar candidate they interviewed late in the day. Researchers have found that However, there are some ways employers can take action to prevent unconscious bias in their hiring.

  • Neutralize Job Descriptions – Analyze job descriptions to ensure the language does not exclude gender, race, or unique background. For example, avoiding gender-specific language and describing how your company provides an inclusive workplace culture will help attract a wider variety of candidates.
  • Implement Blind Resumes – When reviewing resumes to select potential hires, remove any identifying information such as name, address, or photographs. This will prevent unintentional bias from becoming part of the selection process.

Hidden Bias in Onboarding

How new employees are welcomed to the team is vital to employee engagement and retention. Marginalized or diverse hires may feel unwelcome or be treated differently by coworkers. Managers responsible for onboarding should be well-trained in how unconscious bias can show up and take action to prevent it.

  • Introducing the New Hire – When introducing a new hire to the team, managers should first talk about their outstanding skills and why they will add value to the team, rather than leading with personal facts about their marital status or where they attended school.
  • Focus on Team Building – Partnering new hires with an existing employee can help prepare them for their role and create social connections to make them feel welcome. Having team-building events also helps form bonds and allows teams to get to know each other better.

Hidden Bias in Performance Management

Bias can easily creep into the performance review process without careful attention to the details. Studies have shown that women’s performance is more likely to be evaluated based on personality traits, while men are judged by their accomplishments. Other data shows that Black employees often receive more scrutiny than their white counterparts, leading to worse reviews and causing them to miss out on raises and promotions.

  • Use Technology in Performance Reviews– Use a standardized performance review platform that measures employees by the same criteria. When individual managers create the review criteria, there is likely to be a favorable bias towards employees that are most similar to themselves. 360 reviews that collect feedback from peers also decrease bias by providing more than one opinion for a balanced view.
  • Standardize Career Growth – Fairness in promotions is as important as fairness in recruiting. Standardize how employees are chosen for promotion. Having standardized performance review data is a good place to start. Additionally, creating a standard set of questions to consider when deciding who gets promoted and when will help managers evaluate employees fairly. The process should also be well-documented and include more than one decision-maker.

Use Exit Interviews to Reduce Bias

At the end of the employee journey, there should be an exit interview that will provide valuable data about the entire experience of the employee. Craft standardized questions that will reveal any hidden issues within the organization. Ask how they chose your organization to work for, what they liked about it, and what they did not like. Find out why they are leaving, and gather their feedback about the hiring, onboarding, and performance management practices. Finally, analyze that data to continue improving the employee journey from beginning to end.