I love this post! It’s a great example of trying to use technology to solve a people problem. If communication and recognition are the issue, some digital high fives in dead silent cubicle zones won’t solve the general issue. People crave authentic connection and engagement, so this trying to solve a human issue digitally. It is especially problematic, as you allude to, with the way that censorship and intervention by Amazon managers/NLP/moderators could stifle the recognition making it even less authentic than digital recognition can already feel. I think People Analytics at its best buttresses or better informs real-life human engagement and at its worst attempts to replace real-life human engagement. Sadly, I think this falls squarely in the latter misguided category.
I think this trust element is so essential in thinking about data in a DEI context. What makes it especially tricky is that we are at an inflection point on DEI with lots of thoughts on where we should be going but little agreement on how exactly we get there. Without an agreed means to an end, most uses of data will alienate/offend some. I think that for something as sensitive as DEI, for now, we should focus on using passive data to explore and expose inequities rather than active collection unless there is a clear use case. I worry that trying to over-use data to solve such a sensitive and subjective problem could frustrate and dis-empower minority voices.
I think your skepticism is spot on! The last thing employees are clamoring for is more targeted HR in their personal business. I think this is a great example of well-intentioned People Analytics creating a “Big Brother” feeling that alienates rather than empowers employees. If I want to add a dependent, I will. Making HR functionalities simple and straightforward but still up to the employee seems like a much better avenue – focus the People Analytics team elsewhere on things that can be more approachable and engaging like high-fidelity mentorship matching or a more systematic and better informed performance review process.