The Future of HR? Real-Time Feedback Tools Take off at Amazon, Elsewhere

Amazon has widely embraced the use of real-time feedback platforms as a method for better understanding a company’s needs. While the tools have gotten mixed reviews from employees, the company has seen its workplace reputation improve since implementing the tools.

Like many companies, you might do quarterly or annual employee evaluations to see how your workers are feeling about the state of their workplace.

But are you asking your employees to do so every day? Over at Amazon, they’ve been doing just that—in some parts of the company, for a few years, even. CNBC reports that the company is having its employees answer a daily Q&A through an app called Connections, which asks employees a series of work-related questions that vary in nature from the amount of time worked in meetings to how crowded bathrooms get during the day. Occasionally, the system asks follow-up questions of the employees.

In addition, the company revamped its employee review process by launching a program called Forte, which aims to focus less on the weaknesses of employees and more on their strengths.

Connections, first revealed to the public in a 2015 Bloomberg report, was initially introduced at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and has since expanded to all parts of the company, with results analyzed by an internal team.

Public knowledge of the strategy came about not long after The New York Times made apparent the issues the company has faced with a workplace culture that it described as “bruising” in a 2015 article.

The two tools, intended to give Amazon a better understanding of its staff, have received mixed reviews internally, with employees telling CNBC that they worried about the program’s anonymity and expressing skepticism of its value. But the program has corresponded with better reviews of Amazon as a company on Glassdoor and LinkedIn, something the company was quick to highlight in its comments to the cable network.

“We launched Forte and Connections several years ago and have gotten positive feedback from employees—they tell us that these are useful tools for them and their teams,” the company said in a statement to the network. “It’s great to see that this also comes through in surveys done by third-parties like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, which reflect these and the many other programs we’ve built for employees over the past 23 years.”

Not Just Amazon

Amazon may be the leading company that’s embracing these programs, but it’s not alone. Real-time feedback apps are a trend noted by the Society for Human Resource Management as far back as 2015, with applications like Impraise and Workday helping to create a more active feedback loop that HR departments can respond to.

Such programs have taken off in the financial world, where Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have each launched tools intended to allow for feedback through the use of mobile apps.

In a note to employees acquired by Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs executives, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noted that “providing ongoing, high-quality feedback is at the heart of our culture of teamwork and excellence.”

Could you see real-time feedback of this nature benefiting your organization? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

(Jane_Kelly/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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