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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #3

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

As we approach the end of the year, we’re learning just how significantly the pandemic has affected women in the workplace. Nearly 900,000 women have dropped out of the labor force since March, citing childcare responsibilities as the primary driver. That’s a big problem: it’s not just that the gender employment gap will widen, but also that our companies will lose out on the impacts of nearly a million talented workers. Shrewd companies won’t wait for a political solution to the childcare issue – they’ll help their employees figure out how to juggle work life and home life through flexible hours, childcare stipends, and other creative solutions.

Tech Innovation at Work

Could be one to watch —ServiceNow is acquiring Element AI, a Canadian startup aiming to build and provision AI-based IT services for enterprises. 🤔🐣Not clear yet what this would add to ServiceNow, but it’s possible that it’s a good move for Element AI, whose product had yet to take shape. The deal hasn’t been disclosed but it’s estimated to be around $500 million.

A new year means “year in review” lists and predictions. 📆🍾🎉 This one from Axios is a helpful summary of how 2020 has changed the way we work. Remote work is here to stay— but the majority of workers (tech workers included) won’t be remote full-time. Nearly a fifth of workers say their companies aren’t doing enough to keep their employees connected — and those workers are more likely to feel burnt out.  Unsurprisingly, AI and robotics have gotten a boost because of limited human-to-human contact. 🤖📈

Some interesting takeaways too from Amazon CTO and VP Werner Vogel’s “8 predictions” on the impact of technology in 2021. 🔮👨‍💻Cloud is already everywhere, we’re seeing strides in machine learning, and lockdown has accelerated our reliance on audio and video. 📹☁️🤖 As Vogel puts it: “When it comes to building relationships and transacting with a brand, customers want to do what’s natural to them. Thus, companies should explore this move towards user interfaces like voice, and other forms of audio and video.” — What’s true for the customer experience goes for the employee experience as well.

Graphic: Amazon

This was an interesting interview with Etan Bernstein of AKT Global. COVID-19 drives home what HR professionals have known for years: HR departments need to focus on the employee experience. 💯🔥💪 Bernstein puts it well: “Organizations should design HR processes from an employee’s perspective – just like their regular work – rather than submitting to the fragmented process ownership between corporate functions and internal and external service providers.” Bernstein also opts for a well-rounded approach: “By taking a holistic view of the employee experience, supported by cross-organizational partnerships and enabled tools to deliver on those many moments that matter, organizations can improve the employee experience and drive employee performance while paving the way for a more digital workplace.” 

The Changing Workplace

Turns out, employees appreciate work-from-home when it’s done well. Citigroup has seen record increases in employee satisfaction in an internal annual survey. ✏️🏄🙌 They will soon offer workers the option of a 12-week sabbatical as part of their new employee perks. It’s an investment in a new work-life balance, and I’m all for it. 

It’s easy for anti-racism to become just lip service. But policies have to reflect how the business works. Target Executive VP and Chief External Engagement Officer Laysha Ward lays out starting points for an anti-racist business strategy. Of course every business is unique, but beginning with a framework can help get the ball rolling.  💪🎯😎 Ward says: “Let’s not let perfection be the enemy of progress — or allow our concern for saying or doing the wrong things keep us on the sidelines. Inaction is not an option.”

Performance reviews under COVID-19 can be tricky — but it seems like most companies are not cancelling them entirely. Generally they’re opting for a softer, kinder approach. From tech giants like Facebook to hospitality leaders Hilton, managers are offering more positive feedback, more raises, and lower quotas. It’s nice to see “empathetic leadership” during a difficult time. 🙌🌟 How we work is changing, and the metrics for evaluating employees need to change with it.

All About Data

Here’s Shopify’s “Future of Commerce” report is definitely worth a look. 🛍️💳🔮 Highlights: 54% of shoppers (and 67% of young shoppers) shifted more or their spending to online retail during the pandemic, 50% of consumers would like to book an appointment for in-store visits, and shoppers increasingly prefer to shop small, independent, sustainable, and local. 

A big challenge for HR departments will be staying ahead of automation — and data skills are a must. HR managers will have to keep up with changes in data-driven trends and high level reporting. KPMG breaks it down: 

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Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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