Business Briefs: What’s In a Name, Keep Feedback Future-Focused & What Employees Want

Welcome to Business Briefs! The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

Unique Names and Hireability

Parents often work to find unique names to give their offspring: Something to make the kid stand out. 

And while it might make the child stand out, the long-term effects on hireablility are less than ideal. It turns out that resumes with difficult-to-pronounce names tend to yield fewer job opportunities. 

Now, names can be viewed as “difficult-to-pronounce” for many reasons. The musician formerly known as Prince picked a symbol for his name, a deliberate artistic choice. Other names may be difficult to pronounce because of cultural differences. A “normal” name in one language can be a real puzzle in another language. 

A couple of researchers recently studied the impact of names on hireability using a few different methods. First, they looked at 1,500 resumes from economists seeking academic gigs. Names were determined to be difficult-to-pronounce through measuring the average time it took 10 individuals to pronounce the names…there’s typically some hesitation before attempting a difficult-to-pronounce name. They found that individuals with difficult-to-pronounce names were about 10% less likely to have landed the positions. 

The researchers suggested that the best way to address the disconnect was for search teams to be aware of this potential for bias. 

But if you’re on the job market, it’s worth considering an easy-to-pronounce nickname to open the door. 

Read more here

How Do You Say Your Name? Difficult-To-Pronounce Names and Labor Market Outcomes – Qi Ge & Stephen Wu, Elsevier


A recent Gallup Study referenced a 2020 project that turned into a useful rabbit hole. The study looked at performance feedback for employees and found that…it often fails to be useful. In fact, performance feedback can lead to worse outcomes. 

The project launched three experiments. The first one involved the feedback from 419 executives. When the feedback was positive, the recipient agreed. When the feedback was negative, the recipient typically thought it was inaccurate or due to situations beyond their control. 

In a second experiment involving 380 executives, they found that negative feedback created increased conflict between the recipient and the manager.

In the last experiment, the researcher tried a new approach, this time with 162 executives. Instructions for giving feedback clarified that it needed to be future-focused. Researchers found that receiving future-focused feedback was associated with a worker’s higher intentions to change. 

The takeaway? When giving feedback, focus on clear plans for progress. 

Read more here

The future of feedback: Motivating performance improvement through future-focused feedback – Jackie Gnepp, Joshua Klayman, Ian Williamson and Sema Barlas, PLoS One

What Do Employees Want?

ADP Research Institute surveyed 32,000 workers across 17 countries to learn what it is the workforce really wants. The executive summary highlights the big takeaways:

  • 90% of workers feel at least “somewhat” satisfied with their job
  • 61% are anticipating a raise in the next year
  • Average unpaid overtime per week in salaried employees: 8.5 hours
  • 71% want more flexibility
  • 15% feel stressed at work every day
  • 67% feel stressed once a week
  • 64% would leave their job, if forced to return to the office unnecessarily

Read more here

ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022