12 October, 2021

Combatting Cognitive Human Biases with a Digital Engagement Platform

Behavioral science has revealed that the human mind is wired to take shortcuts to make quick analyses, conclusions, or decisions about people. This often results in what is called ‘cognitive bias’. While these mental shortcuts or ‘heuristics’ save us a lot of effort in everyday decision-making, they can often trip us up, especially in a work environment. This can result in a compromised workplace culture and inefficient people management. This blog will discuss the various types of biases and how an effective employee engagement platform can be leveraged to keep them at bay.

Recency Bias:

Challenge- Simply put, this bias makes us favor recent events over past ones, especially when thinking about another employee at work. This is especially relevant at the time of performance appraisals, when managers base their judgement on recent performance, overlooking even exceptional achievements in the past. This can demotivate employees or make them choose to perform well only close to the appraisal cycle.

Solution- An R&R tool which allows managers to record performance feedback 365 days and share it with the employee intermittently can result in timely course correction, better performance, and higher engagement. Moreover, managers get access to a log of achievements and areas of improvement for an employee resulting in a fairer evaluation.

Confirmation Bias:

Challenge- a popular cause of misperception, the confirmation bias is a tendency to actively look for evidence to support one’s existing beliefs. For example- if a manager believes that an employee is not hard working, they will tend to notice the days on which the employee may have to leave work early versus the days on which they stay late.

Solution- An automated system of recognitions with a robust framework in place allows the people management process within a firm remain unbiased and seamless. Taking the above example, if hard work is an important organizational value, employees who spend more than 8 hours in office on a given day can receive an automatic note of appreciation and a ‘Hard Worker’ badge in the RnR portal.

The Bandwagon Effect:

Challenge- The bandwagon effect takes place when people tend to make choices based on the preferences of society at large versus objectively evaluating the competence of an individual. In total rewards, this can mean that the most outgoing, friendly and confident person receives the maximum praise and promotion, irrespective of her or his performance.

Solution- Setting up a nominations module through a digital R&R platform will ensure transparency and accountability in nominations, as the approval workflow and jury results will be open for all to access. The nominations process can also include stringent criteria for nominees to meet that can be a mix of subjective and objective parameters.

Frequency Bias:

Problem- This bias leads us to better remember frequent occurrences, rather than events that take place occasionally. This means that employees will remember specific words/moments of appreciation more clearly when they are reiterated time and again.

Solution- Notifications/automated emails can be sent to managers through an R&R platform, reminding them to recognize their teams on a frequent basis. This boosts the adoption of the platform in general while maintaining a more consistent feeling of appreciation that employees feel, resulting in higher satisfaction levels.

Negativity bias:

Problem- A well-known bias, this explains why negative occurrences have a much more profound impact on the human mind compared to positive ones. It is no wonder that the ideal praise to criticism ratio for employees is 5:1.

Solution- An easy, on-the-go employee recognition solution can be the answer to promoting appreciation in today’s busy workplaces. A mobile app or an Outlook/ Slack/Teams plug-in can make recognition quick and accessible, thus incentivizing managers to deliver positive feedback on-the-spot.

Technology has changed the way our minds and emotions react to our surroundings. It is in the best interest of firms to leverage the power of digitization to combat negative emotions in the workplace and boost engagement. A total rewards platform that looks at the employee life cycle holistically while preemptively telling you about employee needs can help you meet this objective.