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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #102

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

Happy real start to the new business year! Let’s jump right in with some predictions of what trends are moving in at full force and which are deservedly on their way out. 

2023 Hot 🔥 or Nots ❌:

Hot: 

  • Employee recognition software: This isn’t just my personal opinion. Research from consulting firm Acumen anticipates the market for Employee Recognition Systems will grow to $34.1 billion by 2030, ballooning over $20 billion. And as companies begin to seriously prioritize EX, it certainly makes sense.
  • Earned Wage Access: EWA, both the technology and the adoption rate, will have its year in 2023. Not only are more payroll tech companies entering the market, increasing accessibility and driving down cost, but more control over compensation amidst economic uncertainty will likely prove to be a solid recruitment strategy.
  • Strategic hybrid work: While flexibility remains a top priority amongst young workers, many are beginning to voice preferences for hybrid work options over fully remote arrangements. There are a few reasons, ranging from the remote work promotion gap to the acknowledgment that some crucial workforce skills and experiences can only be realized in a collaborative office environment (not to mention that, frankly, sometimes remote work can get lonely). However, their interest in returning to the office is not your excuse to disregard modernizing the in-office experience.

Not:

  • Confusing work-life balance with quiet quitting: Work-life balance is key to a healthy and fulfilling life, and it requires a certain degree of separation from work. Quiet quitting is a symptom of problematic leadership strategies and an unappealing culture. Neither are the faults of employees.
  • Separation of core business strategies and DE&I: DE&I isn’t an extracurricular. Truly successful DE&I programs are built into the pillars of an organization, and truly successful organizations see the benefits of well-integrated DE&I programs reflected in their overarching performance.
  • The term “quiet firing”: Let’s start calling it what it is: A hostile work environment.

Tech Innovation at Work

Shopify 🛍️ has announced its next era of growth in the form of a new SaaS offering for enterprise retailers. Through Commerce Components by Shopify (CCS), retail enterprises can now build composable stacks of Shopify systems and components instead of using one of the Ecomm giant’s full-service solutions. The innovative move is a very strategically designed match made in heaven for legacy-laden organizations. 🏢 🤝 💲 In the past two decades, some of the largest big-name retailers — Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, PetSmart — have watched nervously as their brick-and-mortar counterparts — Marshall Field’s, Sports Authority, Pet Valu — fall to the retail apocalypse 🪦 (the crushing blow to many being the pandemic). These brands have withstood the difficulties of modern economic concerns and consumer trends through various strategic initiatives: Kohl’s partnering with Amazon, Dick’s dipping its toes in venture capital, and PetSmart acquiring online retailer Chewy. While digital transformation-powered moves like these are both vital and powerful, they still face the ever-present Achilles heel of outdated infrastructure. 💾 This is why I think disruptive opportunities to enhance agility will quickly become the new norm for the era of on-demand and faster-than-the-speed-of-light consumer expectations.

SCREENSHOT: OpenAI

ChatGPT — have you tried it yet? If not, you’ve probably been much more productive than a lot of people this week. ChatGPT is a new chatbot by OpenAI — and the most impressive one I’ve ever seen. I could tell you about it, or I could show you a snippet of the conversation we had about artificial intelligence in human resources:

🧑‍💼: What are some examples of how AI and AI chatbots can help human resource professionals create a better workplace for employees?

🤖: There are many ways that AI and chatbots can help HR professionals create a better workplace for employees. Here are a few examples:

  • Automating repetitive tasks: AI and chatbots can handle tasks such as scheduling meetings, answering frequently asked questions, and even processing employee benefits paperwork, freeing up HR professionals to focus on more important and strategic tasks.
  • Improving employee engagement: Chatbots can be used to provide personalized and timely support to employees, helping to improve their overall engagement and satisfaction with their job.
  • Enhancing the onboarding process: Chatbots can be used to provide new employees with information and support during the onboarding process, helping to make their transition to their new job easier and more seamless.

🧑‍💼: How can business leaders help employees utilize AI effectively?

🤖: There are a few key ways that business leaders can help employees utilize AI effectively:

  • Provide training and support: It’s important to ensure that employees have the training and support they need to work with AI effectively. This may include providing access to learning resources, hosting workshops or training sessions, or assigning mentors to help employees get up to speed with new AI technologies.
  • Foster a culture of innovation: Business leaders should encourage employees to be innovative and explore new ways of using AI to improve their work and the work of the organization. This may involve setting aside time for employees to experiment with new technologies or providing resources to support innovation.
  • Encourage collaboration: AI can be most effective when it’s used in conjunction with human skills and expertise. Business leaders should encourage collaboration between employees and AI systems, and create a culture where it’s okay to ask for help or input from others.

🧑‍💼: What about employees who worry that robots are coming after their jobs? What’s one way  business leaders help those who are hesitant appreciate AI?

🤖: It’s understandable that some employees may be worried about the potential impact of AI on their jobs. One thing business leaders can do to help employees who are hesitant about AI appreciate its potential benefits is promote ethical use of AI. It’s important for business leaders to ensure that employees are using AI ethically and in ways that align with the values of the organization. This may involve setting guidelines or policies for the use of AI, or providing training on ethical considerations related to AI.

🧑‍💼: That’s all super helpful! Just to be clear: you aren’t coming after our jobs, right?

🤖: As an AI, I do not have the ability to take anyone’s job or make decisions about employment. My purpose is to assist and support users by providing information and answering questions to the best of my ability. I am here to help make tasks easier and more efficient, but I do not have the ability to replace the unique skills and abilities of humans.

After that complex conversation, that is a bit of a relief. Try it out for yourself here.

The Changing Workplace

Good news for all you aspiring stand-up comics out there. 🎤 Behavioral science researchers have found that humor can improve your standing at work. The condensed explanation is that humor bridges gaps between strangers, aiding in the development of social relationships and encouraging others to interact with you in the future. 🤝 In the professional world, this could translate to being seen as knowledgeable and confident, proving yourself to be an integral part of a team, and putting yourself on the radar for advancements. In fact, the jokes don’t even have to be that great; they just need to have a sense of levity. 🤡 I think this is a great piece of knowledge for all employees to have, but especially for those struggling with imposter syndrome, as those who struggle with it are more likely to be newer to a company and nervous about speaking up or joining in on conversations. Read the full article (and maybe share it with your team) from Atlassian here.

GIF: MTI VIA GET YARN

Much of the conversation surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion focuses on cultural and racial initiatives. But amidst the trend of unretirement, ⏪ every company needs to zoom out and consider whether its DEII programs are supporting an equally crucial segment of the workforce: older workers. 🧓 While customized benefits are important, the best programs make senior employees feel valued while contributing to the growth of company culture and strategy. This can take many forms. But one of the most common is mentorship programs that pair tenured employees with younger team members to share and enhance institutional knowledge. Yet despite the obvious risk of knowledge gaps when older workers inevitably retire for good, a recent study showed that such programs are few and far between.

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Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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