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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #40

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

In the face of the largest worker shortage many of us have ever seen, retaining your current employees is more important than ever. As I’ve covered in recent editions of Exit Interview, people are leaving their jobs for a range of reasons. While the majority are related to compensation or flexibility, we can’t forget about those who are leaving their stable, well-paying careers due to unhappiness with leadership and culture.

Management in large organizations can face a lot of uphill battles when it comes to increasing wages for workers, but there are lots of simple and free methods for improving your leadership skills. This week, I wanted to share this fun and easy read from Fast Company. The listicle captures moments of strong leadership within Apple TV’s acclaimed series Ted Lasso, but what you learn may serve you well in the workplace. Whether or not you’re looking for a new binge-worthy show, I highly suggest taking a look. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the boilerplate “X Ways to Be a Better Leader” content we’re used to (and tired of) seeing.

Market Moves

Bravely, the on-demand, all-levels coaching service, announced a $15 million Series A funding round this week, led by Telescope Partners. The app-based platform provides company-wide access to career coaching as part of their mission to “empower everyone to build their best life at work.” With the Great Resignation encouraging tens of thousands of employees to seek careers that offer fulfillment and satisfaction, Bravely will definitely be a company to watch. 👀

Work-Bench, an enterprise technology-focused VC firm, has raised a $100 million third fund. The company is dedicated to funding New York-based startups 🗽🏙️, primarily during pre-revenue phases when other firms are hesitant to invest. Work-Bench is hopeful that their efforts will help establish a Silicon Valley-esque tech hub on the East coast.

Tech Innovation at Work

Opensignal recently conducted the most comprehensive analysis of the 5G experience to date, measuring different aspects of 5G across all 50 states. 📶 The results were, literally and figuratively, all over the map. 🗺️😜 The most populous states ranked consistently higher in overall 5G availability, but varied widely in specific measures like download speeds and gaming experience. Rural states were ranked lowest across all categories, starkly displaying the digital divide between urban and rural areas (more on that from Opensignal here).

Wearable tech continues to provide doctors with lifesaving medical insight. 👩‍⚕️📋🏥 While we tend to think of such devices largely for heart monitoring, research organizations around the world as well as companies like BioSerenity and Vector Textiles are thinking bigger. 🙇 We now have EEG-monitoring caps that can monitor and diagnose disorders including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. “We estimate that we can shorten the amount of time it takes to reach a diagnosis by several months, if not years,” BioSerenity CEO, the cap’s maker, claims. The University of Helsinki has developed a smart jumpsuit for detecting neurodevelopment delays in infants. Researchers are even in the early stages of developing textiles that can translate physiological changes into words to help non-verbal individuals communicate. We truly are in an era of amazing medical science. Read the full article here.

ILLUSTRATION: WSJ/RUTH GWILY

I want to circle back and discuss Bravely beyond its fundraising — not only because the idea behind its services is perfect for the current work arena, but because I always appreciate a company that shares the values we hold dearly at SEI. 😊 As I mentioned in Market Moves, Bravely is an app-based career coaching service for companies. But instead of utilizing a trickle-down method focused almost exclusively on senior-level executives, coaching solutions are available for every member of an organization, regardless of title or position. Using Bravely’s sleek app, employees can connect with Bravely “pros” (coaches) to work on a range of professional development and work-life wellbeing goals.

Bravely could not have hit the market at a better time, and their early data is promising as employers struggle with solutions for employee retention. 🙆”The world of work is undergoing the biggest change we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” says Sarah Sheehan, Co-Founder and President of Bravely. “The choice is: rise to meet the new standards, or lose your most valuable asset, which is your people.”

The Changing Workplace

Fast Company has released its list of 100 best workplaces for innovators in 2021. 🎉👏 The list is created in collaboration with Accenture, who facilitates the application process and panel of judges responsible for selecting the winners based on recent examples of innovation, culture, and DE&I initiatives. Ranking #1 is Moderna, who based their COVID-19 vaccine on the emerging (but incredibly safe and effective) science of mRNA. 👨‍⚕️💉 The panel of judges noted that the company’s vaccine wasn’t just innovative — it was heroic. The top ten also included IBMQuirk Creative, and Boston Scientific.

With data indicating that roughly half of all American workers plan to search for a new job in the next year, it’s imperative that every company make preparations for potential disruptions caused by the Great Resignation. How? 🙇Five9 says the key is workforce optimization (WFO). WFO is an organizational strategy for achieving performance goals by understanding and optimizing your workforce through digital transformation 💻, visibility 👀, and personal relationships. 👩‍💼👨‍💼👩‍💻

I think it’s important to note that WFO is most effective when used proactively rather than in response to staffing shortages — especially in an increasingly remote work environment. By creating a streamlined, synthesized, and engaging workforce culture, organizations are less likely to lose to employees to burnout or disengagement. Read the full article to see what WFO strategies Five9 recommends here.

PHOTO: Five9

All About Data

CNN reported on recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics comparing the workforce of 1979/1980 to that of 2019/2020. The most notable changes are that our workforce has become much older and more diverse over the past 40 years. 👴👵 Here are some of the other highlights:

  • The amount of workers 65 and older has more than doubled, from 3% to 6.6%. 📈
  • 42% of workers over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree. 🎓
  • Women make up 47% of the US workforce (although it’s important to keep in mind that these stats are pre-COVID). 👩‍💻🙌
  • The percent of unmarried workers grew from 36% to 48%. ⛪👫📉

Check out the full blog post from the BLS and see what federal labor economists have to say about the changes here.

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Patrick Donegan

Managing Director

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