4 min read

Introducing our People Science team

Jason McPherson

Jason McPherson

Chief Scientist, Culture Amp


The People Science practice at Culture Amp is substantial and growing with expertise located across the world - from Melbourne to San Francisco to London and New York. We’re also a diverse team in terms of experience and backgrounds from Phds and Masters degrees in Psychology, internal People Analytics practitioners, and management consulting. But we are all united in what we are aiming to achieve: In the words of our VP of People Science, Jennifer Cullen:

“People Science is the practice of collecting feedback on employee’s experiences at work and using that data to inform and understand how to make the workplace better for everyone.”

Our People Science team listens to our customers goals and helps them apply principles from Industrial and Organizational (I/O) psychology, Organizational Development, and Data Science to improve their business.

We want to create more People Geeks

Part of Culture Amp’s vision since the beginning has been to empower and educate people so they don't become dependent on us for decision making. Rather, when our People Science team leave the room, they want everyone to have a deeper understanding of People Science. In line with our own internal values we are here to amplify others. We firmly believe our customers are best positioned for action and making decisions within their organizations. We're there to help empower them to tackle their problems.

As Jennifer puts it, “Our vision is to create more People Geeks within companies. We want to level up people to be able to collect, act on and understand their employee feedback and optimize around their business goals. We write articles and educate through experiences to level up the whole community as well.”

Our team does this in three different areas - internally, in the field, and through our product. Our internal People Science team, coordinated by David Ostberg, looks at Culture Amp’s learning and development initiatives as well as our culture first actions. For example, this team analyzes our own survey and feedback results on a regular cadence, educates how we interview people across the company to understand biases in hiring, and develops new programs to ensure our efforts around diversity and inclusion across the company are always progressing.

Field People Scientists work closely with our customers. They sit down with them and identify what is the best way for them to ask questions, formulate programs and strategies for collecting feedback, and help them sift through their data and make decisions (using analytics in the Culture Amp platform).

Field People Scientists also educate on the principles of telling stories with data, linking employee feedback data to business metrics and KPIs, and the importance of understanding employee work experiences across the employee lifecycle (from candidate to alumni) to help build a culture first company. Our experts build confidence in our partners for how to sell the 'people agenda' to their executives and make a strong case for people analytics in their organization as a way to make decisions.

We also challenge customers to question long-held assumptions about collecting employee feedback and employee engagement. We help them dig deep to find new and innovative methods of responding to their problems. And over the years we’ve worked with organizations who have wanted to do some really novel things.

For example, one of our clients wanted to measure the impact of their engineering processes (code reviews, error metrics etc.) on their engineering culture, but they couldn’t find any questions that had been validated. So our People Scientists did some agile research and developed a survey measurement tool for this customer. The process was much faster than traditional research methods so the organization could start collecting and validating data straight away.

Finally, our field team listens to and learns about the pain points companies are experiencing around their people and feedback strategies. Working closely with the People Scientists in our Collective Intelligence product team, they feed that information back to help inform our product philosophy, roadmap, and content priorities.

Our People Scientists have diverse experiences and backgrounds

I’m incredibly proud of the diversity we have in our People Science team. Diverse teams challenge ideas, and that’s why not everyone in our People Science team comes from a traditional I/O psychology background. We have actuaries, people with business, organizational development, and data science backgrounds, as well as I/O psychologists. This brings deep knowledge in a range of areas including occupational health, statistics, diversity & inclusion, business analytics, assessment, organizational development and change management.

The great thing about diversity is that everyone challenges each other and we challenge our clients as well. We’re not bound by traditional ideas, nor what we learned at university, and this allows us to forge new paths together. We challenge long-standing methods that a team of pure I/O psychology practitioners may not. For example, there can be a tendency for I/O psychs to create long surveys, or stick to pre-existing off-the-shelf measurement tools, but we’ve gone against the grain, in part because of the diversity of our team. We challenge those principles and choose to do things differently, dynamically.

We also have a more robust understanding our customer’s problems. Some members of our team have strong business backgrounds, which means they readily understand what organizations are trying to achieve. They have empathy and understanding about the problems a customer (and their leadership) is facing, beyond what one can gather from a theoretical or data-driven perspective alone.

Jennifer puts it better than I can: “Even our I/O psychology hires are diverse. They have diverse specialties in health, gender diversity, wellbeing, personnel selection, and employee recognition and benefits. We’re rethinking what’s already been done and figuring out how to do it better with our collective experience.”

This diversity gives our team breadth and strength and helps us help our customers get the best results. I’m really proud of our People Science team and the way we work with each other and our customers.