Employees see bias in performance reviews: Report

'The old playbook for anti-bias training in isolation does not work'

Employees see bias in performance reviews: Report

Your performance review process needs a review, based on findings from a recent survey.

A quarter (25 per cent) of workers believe that their performance reviews were negatively affected by their supervisor's personal biases, reports workplace equity analytics platform Syndio.

This is 54 per cent more likely to be the case among Asian employees than among white employees. LGBTQ+ employees are also significantly affected, with a 35 per cent higher likelihood of bias-related negative impacts.

This is the case even though anti-bias training is common, and frequently required during

the review cycle. About one in five (19 per cent) of organizations require training during the review cycle, with 33 per cent requiring the training from elsewhere and 24 per cent providing optional materials during the review cycle.

"These findings reinforce what we already know: the old playbook for anti-bias training in isolation does not work,” says Katie Bardaro, labor economist and Syndio's chief customer officer. “Leaders and managers are human beings, and bias creeps into their decision making.”

Almost all (94 per cent of) women working in the field of technology feel that more is expected from them at work compared to their male co-workers, according to a previous report.

How bias affects pay, promotions

Managers who have a bias against workers can have a detrimental effect on workers’ careers, according to Syndio’s survey of over 1000 full-time workers across all job levels in August 2023.

Beyond performance reviews, managers have a significant amount of power over:

  • pay increases (82 per cent)
  • promotions (80 per cent)
  • formal performance improvement plans (76 per cent)
  • bonus payouts (65 per cent)
  • assignment to stretch or high-visibility projects (61 per cent)
  • nomination for development programs (52 per cent)

Over two in five (43 per cent) of non-management employees believe their organizations lack transparency in promotion decisions, and 36 per cent of those in management and leadership roles agree with this perception, indicating a shared concern among employees and decision-makers.

Nearly three in 10 (28 per cent) workers are prepared to leave their employer in the next 12 months, due to poor work-life balance and lack of development opportunities. And employers know they are not doing enough, according to a previous report.

Relyingon data analytics could be the key to solving this problem, says Bardaro.

“To better combat that bias, companies need to pair training with data analytics to better understand what's driving and stopping people movement. 

“Leaders need to use data to empower changes within their organizations, from promoting more diverse talent to rooting out managers who cannot overcome their biases. This is another moment for HR leaders to seize the technological changes coming to their functions to drive meaningful change they know will create more diverse and better performing companies."

Here are some other ways to ensure your employees are getting fair, consistent performance appraisals, according to talent solutions firm Cornerstone

  • Choose the right way to evaluate competencies.
  • Gather multi-rater feedback.
  • Use consistent language in comments.
  • Include a second-level manager review or a manager peer group review.
  • Review process metrics to identify inconsistencies.
  • Provide ongoing training and communication to set shared expectations.

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