Are Calibration Committees Equalizers for Performance Assessments?

WorldatWork/Tulane Research Suggests Calibration Committees Help Mitigate Bias

May 22, 2019

May 22, 2019 — Scottsdale, Ariz. — A survey of WorldatWork members reveals that calibration committees are effective at helping mitigate bias in performance assessments. This is one of several substantive findings which surfaced in “Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey,” conducted by WorldatWork in partnership with researchers at Tulane University and other institutions, that sheds light on the current state of performance evaluation processes. Compensation professionals surveyed primarily work for companies with revenues of $100M+.

According to the study, 43% of companies surveyed use calibration committees, and most of them have done so for over four years. At these companies:

  • Employees generally know the identity of calibration committee members
  • 78% say calibration committees are effective at mitigating bias in performance assessments
  • 82% say calibration committees are effective at increasing consistency in performance assessments across supervisors
  • 74% say calibration committees are effective at increasing perceptions of fairness in performance assessments.

“Take a look at today’s headlines or business publications and you’ll read that, around the globe, pay equity and overall perceptions of fairness around how rewards are given to employees are among the biggest issues facing companies in every industry,” says Scott Cawood, WorldatWork President and CEO. “This is a very complicated and nuanced issue, and this survey delivers one remedy for those assessing performance: calibration committees. They are an effective tool to improve perceptions of fairness, increase transparency and limit bias.” 

Other survey results address employee satisfaction regarding performance evaluation processes, bonus pools and alternative raters:

  • Fewer than half of respondents indicate they are satisfied with their company’s performance evaluation process. Most organizations indicated that the effectiveness of their performance evaluation process could be improved.
  • Among organizations that use bonuses, 68% use a bonus pool (e.g., a pre-determined pool of money to be distributed among employees based on their performance).
  • 48% of organizations use alternative raters, individuals who provide formal feedback about an employee’s performance other than the employee’s direct supervisor. Alternative raters are generally not exclusively selected by supervisors.


NOTE:​ Journalists may request a complimentary copy of the survey report by contacting Judy Kalvin, ​judy@companyb-ny.com.

About the Study

“Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey” was conducted in December 2018.  A total of 254 usable responses were included in the results. The demographics of the survey sample and the respondents reflect WorldatWork membership as a whole. The typical WorldatWork member works at the managerial level or higher in the headquarters of a large company in North America. The full text of the questionnaire can be found here. All scales are ranked, low to high from 1-7.

About WorldatWork® 

WorldatWork (www.worldatwork.org) is the leading nonprofit professional association in compensation and total rewards. We serve those who design and deliver total rewards programs to cultivate engaged, effective workforces that power thriving organizations. We accomplish this through education and certification; idea exchange; knowledge creation; information sharing; research; advocacy; and affiliation and networking. Founded in the United States in 1955, today WorldatWork serves total rewards professionals throughout the world working in organizations of all sizes and structures.

About the Research Team

“Contemporary Performance Evaluation Practices Survey” was conducted by WorldatWork in partnership with a team of researchers led by Jasmijn Bol, Professor of Accounting, A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University. Other researchers: Isabella Grabner, Professor of Management Control and Strategy Implementation, Institute for Strategy and Managerial Accounting, WU Vienna (Vienna University of Economics and Business); Robert Grasser, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina; Serena Loftus, Assistant Professor of Accounting, A.B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University; Tatiana Sandino, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School and Karen Sedatole, Goizueta Advisory Board Term Professor of Accounting, Goizueta Business School, Emory University.

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