People Science In Action at Amazon HQ: An Interview With Hive’s Ryan Tahmassebi

Ryan Tahmassebi Presenting to audience

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Ryan’s interview was written by journalist Simon Rushworth and featured in Northern Insight magazine.

There’s a data revolution happening in human resources and Hive’s People Scientists are leading the way, helping businesses use real-time employee feedback to create better employee experiences. 

Hive’s Director of People Science, Ryan Tahmassebi, a seasoned speaker in the Employee Engagement space, shares insights from this year’s gig with global tech company Amazon, and also answers “What is People Science?”

Professional Headshot of Ryan Tahmassebi
Ryan Tahmassebi, Director of People Science, Hive

When one of the world’s biggest companies reached out to the global community for advice on how to better engage with its 650,000 employees, the response was predictably positive. But one reply, more than most, resonated with bosses at the Amazon’s Seattle HQ.

“Amazon reached out to a number of organisations who were experts in the field of People Science,” explained Tahmassebi, who is an experienced business psychologist and 32-year-old father-of-two.

“During an initial conference call, Amazon explained what they were looking for. Hive’s approach to employee engagement really appealed to them, particularly the benefits of effective People Science, and so I worked with them to better understand their people challenges and how best to tackle them.”

Hive pride themselves on doing just that. Expanding at pace and forging a reputation for putting People Science on the HR map, Tahmassebi and his colleagues deserve their international standing and remain determined to go further.

“I found it hugely insightful and really informative how differently Ryan looked at employee experience, I have a lot of takeaways and can’t wait to catch up with Ryan again.”

Ryan on speaking at Amazon HQ

“It was a fantastic experience to go out to the US and work with people operating at that multinational level. Like many organisations, Amazon is looking to understand how to create a better employee experience for their people. 

And they’re a very data-driven organisation. They’re constantly looking at performance data and people data, but there’s not necessarily a blueprint when it comes to interpreting that data in the right way. 

What’s often required is a change of mindset. It’s all about trying to shift some of the focus towards better employee satisfaction without losing what has made Amazon so successful in the first place.”

What is People Science?

So what is People Science and why is it increasingly exercising the minds of proactive HR professionals seeking to evolve a traditionally slow-paced practice? 

Tahmassebi – who regularly presents to top-level management and influential tastemakers – is happy to break it down.

“We’re helping organisations get the most out of the data that relates to their employees. It’s helping them understand how to collect and collate people data and consequently help with performance metrics. It’s about improving engagement and changing culture with a view to improving overall performance. Businesses have been collecting people data for a long time but they haven’t always recognised what to do with it. What Hive does is help organisations collect that data but also interpret it, using the insights from employees to help to drive a lasting, cultural change.”

People Science in Action

In addition to his flying visit to Seattle, roving Manchester United fanatic Tahmassebi has worked with a string of high-profile UK clients during a whirlwind 12 months. 

Sheffield Hallam University has initiated wholesale change around its employee experience as a result of Hive’s expert advice and focused delivery. A positive partnership continues to deliver.

“We recognise that employee engagement plays a vital part in delivering on our people strategy, it also supports our wider goal to become the UK’s leading applied university. Hive provides the perfect platform for our leaders and our managers to listen to our people and understand their work expectations; helping us to respond to employee issues and ideas far quicker than we ever could before.”

Read the full customer story.

Sheffield Hallam previously relied on infrequent engagement surveys to gather employee feedback but, as part of the Hallam Deal, the university pledged to take a more effective and considered approach to employee engagement. 

Swales and her team sought a digital employee feedback platform that would drive employee voice – choosing Hive for its flexibility on survey questions and supplementary People Science support.

“We’re keen to build momentum and energy for employee surveying,” she added. “Off the back of our first survey, our leadership team has been discussing strategic organisational changes, while managers and Heads of Departments have dived deeper and will be taking key insights back into their teams for discussion. Our main focus now is on implementing two or three positive changes as a priority, as opposed to a long list of isolated actions.”

Swales’ comments are music to Tahmassebi’s ears and bring to the fore Hive’s increasingly prominent position as a key influencer in the world of HR. 

Nevertheless, this passionate believer in the value of People Science insists there’s still some way to go before businesses truly appreciate its lasting benefits.

“Currently employees have an expectation that they will have to put in all of these hours – over and above what they should be expected to do. At the same time, organisations want a high-performance culture so they try to push their employees and squeeze as much out of them as they can. I understand that. 

But that perspective can change. We need to change the expectations on both sides and present a more positive picture of what work should feel like. 

We can do great work in terms of employee engagement and changing workplace culture. But for too many businesses People Science is ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’. 

Lots of organisations say let’s do stuff around engagement and then they see that their score is higher than they thought. They’re happy to leave it at that. But it’s not putting employee experience at the heart of the business performance. That’s what Hive advocates and that’s what we want to help our clients to achieve.”

To find out more about how employee surveying and People Science can support your People goals, book a personalised demo with one of our friendly team. 

Sourcing a speaker in employee engagement or experience space? Contact Ryan directly by emailing – he’d be more than happy to chat.

Ryan Tahmassebi is Hive’s Director of People Science. When he’s not on the road visiting customers and solving complex People issues with People Science, he’ll either be imparting knowledge on employee engagement or exercising his vocal chords from his desk! Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn

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