In conversations with CNBC, employees questioned the Connections program’s true anonymity and said they feared potential backlash if they give negative feedback about their jobs and managers.
“There’s just no way you’re going to answer it honestly without an absolute guarantee that it’s anonymous,” said one person at the company.
Two managers said the feedback from Connections help them running their teams. But one of them said some people have asked about potential “repercussions” for sharing critical feedback, while the other said he doesn’t put a lot of importance on the program in general.
Amazon seems to be trying to increase employee engagement with Connections.
In February, Amazon’s People Science team, which was previously known as “WW Operations Connections” and supports employees and managers in its operations group (including fulfillment centers), sent out its first pilot newsletter to raise awareness about the program.
In the email, obtained by CNBC, the team said it would hold a monthly webinar called ChimeIn, to give employees “the opportunity to dive deep into Connections and ask any questions you might have.”
In the newsletter, People Science is described as a team that “uses employee feedback, science, and technology to help leaders solve business problems.” According to people familiar with the team, People Science is part of the HR organization and closely analyzes Connections data.
In September, Amazon hired Krish Krishnan for the team. Krishnan previously spent over seven years at Microsoft, mostly as part of its artificial intelligence team. On LinkedIn, Krishnan once described his team as a group of researchers, data scientists, and machine learning experts trying to “understand the sentiment, provide actionable insight in real time, and enhance the work environment.”
One person involved with People Science said one of the team’s broader goals is to identify the best employees while reducing attrition. This person pointed out that many tech companies, most prominently Google, have “People Analytics” teams that help turn employee feedback and data into meaningful HR initiatives.
“You can quantify a lot of these things using data, and that’s exactly why you want to have a team like this,” this person said.
Still, some employees aren’t sure how meaningful the data from Connections is. Most managers give regular reviews of the data to their teams, but some say they haven’t been given detailed instructions on how to evaluate the data.