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1 in 4 employees say supervisor bias negatively affects their performance review



Twenty-five percent of full-time workers reported that their performance reviews were negatively affected by their supervisor’s personal biases, according to a Nov. 30 report from Syndio, a workplace equity analytics platform.

Minority groups were most likely to report a negative impact, the survey showed. Asian employees reported a 54% higher likelihood of negative influence on their performance reviews, as compared to White employees. In addition, LGBTQ+ employees reported a 35% higher likelihood of bias-related effects.

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

The survey of more than 1,000 full-time workers across all job levels also found that 43% of nonmanagement employees said their organization lacks transparency in promotion decisions. Similarly, 36% of workers in management and leadership roles agreed that transparency was lacking.

Even still, typical annual feedback cycles continue, according to the report. Sixty percent of companies used a status quo annual performance review process, particularly enterprise organizations, where 73% focused on one-time annual reviews.

On the other hand, 38% of companies have shifted to more frequent reviews of two or more times per year. According to the survey, these more frequent check-ins were associated with lower concerns about supervisor bias and greater clarity about advancement opportunities. About two-thirds of employees said they’ve felt uncomfortable with expressing interest in advancement, particularly due to fear about bias or unfair treatment regarding promotions.

Annual performance reviews have faced scrutiny in recent years due to their narrow scope and time-consuming nature. Other methods may better capture employees’ strengths, capabilities, preferences and areas of engagement, experts told HR Dive.

Creating a culture of consistent feedback can help, HR professionals said during a panel discussion hosted by LifeLabs. Through regular conversations, workers and managers can focus on expectations, deliverables and strategies to arrive at the best outcomes for everyone involved.

Empowering employees to speak up can also foster psychological safety during reviews. Employees who feel they can share their experiences and constructive feedback are more likely to be open about challenges and opportunities, receptive to suggestions for improvement and have higher levels of trust, engagement and retention.

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