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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #103

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

Just when we thought we had it figured out, right? 

2022 felt like the year of total compensation (I mean, remember “TC or GTFO”? ✊). Employees, powered by the tight labor market, took the opportunity to rally for more comprehensive benefits. Holistic perks like financial planning, student loan payment support, and pet insurance became popular (maybe even demanded) long-term benefits that workers considered valuable contributions to work-life balance. ⚖️

Fast forward to 2023. The US economy is in a will they, won’t they relationship with a recession. 🤭 There are whispers that employers may regain the upper hand in the hiring market. And fresh research from Keep Financial points toward a major shift in employee preferences. Instead of financial planning, 86% of employees surveyed said they’d be enticed to stay with a company in exchange for an immediate cash bonus. 💰 44% of these respondents said they’d use the cash in hand 🫰 to pay off debt, presumably in anticipation of an economic downturn. 

This is just the most recent example of how fluid workforce trends can be and why employers need to keep an eye on the bigger picture so they can predict and execute changes. 

So, should you make a hard left on your total compensation planning for 2023? 🤔 That’s not a question to be asking me. Your employees are the best advocates for what types of incentives will keep them within your organization. Sounds like it’s about time for a pulse survey. 📨

Tech Innovation at Work

Following on the heels of our AI interview 🎙️🤖 last week: Microsoft 💻 is now allowing more customers access to the software behind popular artificial intelligence tools made by OpenAI after announcing a $10 billion investment in the company. This move will enable more businesses to apply for access, opening the way for additional AI-infused products. Microsoft has invested $1 billion in OpenAI and is in talks to put in even more. At first, Microsoft will not allow customers access to build on ChatGPT, but will instead offer access to GPT-3.5, as well as Dall-E 2 and a code-writing tool, Codex, which turns natural language prompts into code. The company said it plans to make the endlessly-engaging chatbot available for businesses in the near future (how businesses will choose to regulate its use with the company, though, is yet to be seen 🤭). Microsoft has been working to rebrand itself as the leader of the AI revolution, starting by integrating OpenAI’s tools into its own software. AI tools built into an enterprise product like Microsoft stand to help employees be more efficient in accessing knowledge, automating repetitive tasks, tapping into the benefits of low-code/no-code, and more.


Engagedly, a people-strategy platform company, has debuted a new feature called Team Pulse, a listening tool that allows managers to better understand their team’s wants and needs. 🗣️ Team Pulse uses flexible, ongoing pulse survey tools that allow employees to come up with responses, collaborate with peers and managers, and become more active in the engagement process. Managers can then catch sight of the stumbling blocks 🧱 and multiple pain points that may have been previously concealed and take remedial or preventive measures. Engagedly CEO Sri Chellappa says its people-centric platform helps businesses create workplaces where employees can better engage, perform, and grow while building “a culture of transparency and trust.” 🙌

The Changing Workplace

One of the most important elements of communicating with younger generations at work is recognizing the ✨ vibe. ✨ (Or so I’m told.) As the workplace slowly adapts to new ideas, sometimes new leadership opportunities emerge. Enter the Chief Vibes Officer 🧑‍💼✌️. They don’t officially have a seat at the boardroom table (yet), but Atlassian is leveraging experimenting with this new position to improve connectedness on remote teams. Check out their experience and the job description for a CVO here.


Let’s end with the coolest collaboration I’ve seen in quite a while: Culture Amp 🔊 recently released an article version of a presentation given by Chief People Officer Tracey Wilmot of The Vera Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to social justice research and policy. In it, she speaks on her experience fostering a culture that contributes to their mission. 🤝 Here are some tips she shared for businesses looking to do the same: 

  1. Hire and onboard with intention: Ensuring employees are aligned with your organization’s mission is the first step toward creating an employee experience that drives social impact. It starts with asking the right questions during the recruitment process to truly understand why they want to work at the organization, what draws them to the position, and how they are aligned with the organization’s mission. Intentional dialogue should not end when the employee is hired but should be baked into the onboarding process.
  2. Democratize innovation: Giving employees at all levels a chance to have their voices heard will not only benefit your organization but also increase employee engagement and development. This can be done through programs such as Impact Pipeline, where employees at all levels are welcome to pitch new ideas to further the organization’s mission. The benefit? — It keeps employees highly engaged with the organization’s mission and encourages them to contribute their brain power.
  3. Make practical investments in learning and development: Learning and development opportunities prime employees to help your organization affect real-world change. Making them a priority will set you up for success. This means making intentional and substantial investments of time and budget in L&D initiatives and seeing everything as an opportunity for employee growth. This can be done through programs such as Impact Pipeline, where employees can dive deep into a novel challenge and return to their pre-existing role with fresh eyes and experience.

If you found this topic as fascinating as I did, a recording of her full talk is available here. 📹

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Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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