People Analytics Startups Find out What You Really Think of Your Job

One of these employees wants to quit.

Getting to Know You

Your employer may be using data science, organizational psychology, and even artificial intelligence to find out what you think of work and how much you’re really getting done.

These so called “people analytics” startups act as digital human resource departments and are already being utilized by hundreds of companies, from Airbnb to United Airlines.

We admit this sounds creepy, but people analytic startups might actually mean well. Companies that enlist help from them often want to input employee’s suggestions and improve job happiness, so they can keep employees around.

Whether people analytics sounds like a great way to communicate with your company or another way you’re being spied on, you should probably know more about them.

Melbourne-based Culture Amp provides over 500 clients worldwide with tools to survey and analyze responses from employees. With the help of a staff scientist and psychologist, these surveys can evaluate employee effectiveness and gauge employees’ emotional commitment to a company and can suggest ways to improve scores.

Now, thanks to $10 million in funding last year, Culture Amp, is revamping employee performance reviews and evaluating employee effectiveness for their clients which include Airbnb, Dropbox, and Adobe

“This is now about recognizing the performance reviews we’ve been running haven’t worked,” Didier Elzinga, CEO and co-founder of Culture Amp, told TechCrunch. “We wanted to dig into why that is and what stops the process from being effective. It comes down to how you ask questions, what type of questions you get people to answer.” Culture Amp has raised $16.3 million total to date.


Volometrix, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2015, bills itself as an organizational analytics service. The company’s software analyzes emails and calendar data to gauge the effectiveness of employees. It’s not quite as creepy as it sounds–Volometrix delivers data to companies anonymously.

What can companies learn from emails and calendars? They can evaluate time management–what employees are doing and with whom–and understand how employees are communicating. The company’s data also tells managers who is involved in each business process or relationship with vendors and partners. Is that something you could just ask an employee directly? Maybe, but VoloMetrix’s clients, like Boeing, Facebook, and Qualcomm, seem to prefer the less direct route.

Ultimately, these startups want to help companies keep the talent they have, which isn’t such a bad thing for employees. And reducing turnover for clients like Jet, Blue Apron, and United Airlines is one of Glint’s top objectives. There’s value in a company that helps keeps employees it would seem–Glint raised $27 million back in August.

The funding will be used, in part, to help build more artificial intelligence into the company’s software.

“By gathering data, including employee engagement levels, performance information, feedback on culture, and insights on why people leave, AI can surface company-and team-specific predictions instantly,” Jim Barnett, the co-founder and CEO of Glint, wrote in The Business Journals.

“These predictions can include the types of employees that will be the most successful, the populations that are most at risk for turnover or performance issues, or the kinds of teams that will develop the most innovative solutions.”

Of course, this begs the question: when does an analysis of an employee become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Is an employee who is predicted to perform poorly denied opportunities for advancement while an average employee who scores well finds himself on a fast track for promotion?

Something to consider the next time your boss (or a survey your boss sends out) asks you how work’s going.


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