I'm referencing today’s February 2015 headline in the WSJ that didn’t require reading. Although I’m not a paid subscriber I could read two greyed-out sentences telling me what the article was describing: company profiling of employees. The issue is one I have tracked since the start of The Great Recession, 2008.
Big Data is not at issue when profiling humans. Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter are not suspect either, causing dehumanization. Too many personal records are available for business to seek access to such as credit scores, criminal records, tax and property ownership and past employment data. Still, these data troves don’t dehumanize us. Let’s look at one sentence for more insight:
“Instead of finding out what’s going on in her company by asking her subordinates, she (a top executive) consults a digital dashboard that tells her everything from who is at their desk to how happy they are about it.”
This is solely related to behavioral psychology in the workforce. Without any more need to prove advancing trends in behavioral sciences, if you haven’t picked up on the past years hiring trends admitting “brain functions” – you soon will. Just seek a job or promotion and you’ll be subjected to tests about your thoughts and feelings and perceptions of work, people, disruptive innovation, the future, entrepreneurism and much deeper behavioral realms hidden in your private self.
Let me get right to the issue: employers (HR) have been targeted by software firms that take research from human behavioral psychology and neurology theory. The research data comes by way of university psych departments; the data is re-purposed in custom software then packaged, marketed and sold to business. The pitch is one of predictability. The workforce must be profiled, they say, in order to build-in predictability. It’s only theory but, science+data leads to absolutes. Absolute what? People, workers, employees, job applicants – whatever label is given – firms have bought into behavioral sciences which cannot, by nature, allow past experiences and skills to prove value to an employer. Why? Those are past – not future values. Here is the fundamental new cultural hiring norm: to predict human thinking processes as metrics. We are becoming the software-selected workforce. Happiness tested.