Cognitive Science as a New People Science for the Future of Work

Brief by Frida Polli et al: “The notion of studying people in jobs as a science—in fields such as human resource management, people analytics, and industrial-organizational psychology—dates back to at least the early 20th century. In 1919, Yale psychologist Henry Charles Link wrote, “The application of science to the problem of employment is just beginning to receive serious attention,” at last providing an alternative to the “hire and fire” methods of 19th-century employers. A year later, prominent organizational theorists Ordway Teal and Henry C. Metcalf claimed, “The new focus in administration is to be the human element. The new center of attention and solicitude is the individual person, the worker.” The overall conclusion at the time was that various social and psychological factors governed differences in employee productivity and satisfaction….This Brief Proceeds in Five Sections:

● First, we review the limitations of traditional approaches to people science. In particular, we focus on four needs of the modern employer that are not satisfied by the status quo: job fit, soft skills, fairness, and flexibility.

● Second, we present the foundations of a new people science by explaining how advancements in fields like cognitive science and neuroscience can be used to understand the individual differences between humans.

● Third, we describe four best practices that should govern the application of the new people science theories to real-world employment contexts.

● Fourth, we present a case study of how one platform company has used the new people science to create hiring models for five high-growth roles.● Finally, we explain how the type of insights presented in Section IV can be made actionable in the context of retraining employees for the future of work….(More)”.