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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan — Newsletter #85

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

If the call to action for the quiet quitting crisis raging across corporate America was unclear, allow me to introduce the movement’s new rallying cry: Act your wage. 📣 📣 📣

For readers with a background in HR studies, you may be more familiar with the textbook name 📚: pay equity theory — the idea that employees’ pay should be proportionate to their contributions to an organization. 

Why the add-on? As more voices join the debate over quiet quitting on social media, advocates for the movement feel the term “quitting” is being weaponized against workers by equating performing your job duties with a complete detachment from one’s responsibilities. In other words — slacking (and as much as I’d like it to be, that is not a pun 😒 ). As one labor rights activist explained to a writer for NPR, “[‘quiet quitting’] suggests that people that do their work have somehow quit their job, framing workers as some sort of villain in an equation where they’re doing exactly what they were told.” 

Act your wage, therefore, has been adopted to correct the narrative, replacing pejorative terms with a phrase that correctly captures the roots of this movement: that employees should reject the expectation of inequity between expectations and compensation. 🙅

But should you be concerned even if you feel that your organization compensates employees fairly? Yes, you should be. Because the theory of management disconnect tells us that it’s very possible your employees don’t share that opinion and, to put it bluntly, their views on this issue have much more impact than yours. 🔥

As you may have guessed, considering I don’t often cover topics back-to-back, I’m absolutely invested in seeing how this conversation evolves. In my opinion, it’s the new remote work debate, and it will have radical impacts on the future of work. 💼 I’ll be staying tuned, and I suggest you do the same.

Tech Innovation at Work

I know this isn’t Rolling Stone, but let’s keep the good times rolling anyways with some unexpectedly topical news. Capitol Records has signed the first AI rap artist, named FN Meka. 👨‍🎤 Mr. Meka may be underground to most of us, but the virtual vocab wizard has 10 million followers on TikTok and has already released his first single. 🤯 Currently, the “artist” is limited to writing only, requiring a person to record the vocal tracks. However, the humans behind FN Meka are already working on speech capabilities — and even have hopes of future collaborations with other AI artists. We’re several years into the debate over whether machine learning will replace tens of thousands of creative writers and marketers. And while no one has been overthrown yet, I think this is a very significant moment in the discussion at large. 🧼 📦 Not too long ago, my colleague, Hervé Mathelier, shared with us another AI pop culture phenomenon called Dall-E Mini. We are at a point where people seem more open to the presence of machine learning in their everyday lives. If we don’t use this momentum to build trust in the human-machine collaborative relationship, we’re throwing away an opportunity to make tangible progress toward getting employees to buy into digital transformation goals. 🧠 🤖


A few weeks ago, we spoke about CVS’s newly-appointed chief data, digital and technology officer and the rise of executive roles responsible for centralizing an organization’s data strategy. Well, it seems like the standard-sized “Suite” 😊 may be getting a bit cramped because another leadership trend is emerging: the chief automation officer (CAO). 🖥️ The title has been floating around for less than a decade, but current economic concerns 🌧️ 💰 🌧️ and a sudden belt-tightening from investors after record-breaking years for VC are pushing organizations across industries towards automation and finding people who can deliver on their goals. In June, Zurich Insurance Group announced the addition of a CAO to their leadership team, and according to a recent Forrester report, more Fortune 500 companies will follow suit in the coming months. Think your organization could use one, too? Learn about the role in this article from VentureBeat.

The Changing Workplace

Continuing our coverage of the Starbucks ☕ unionization efforts: a federal judge has ordered the immediate reinstatement of several Starbucks employees who had been fired as part of the company’s relentless union-busting campaign. 👩‍⚖️ The Memphis Seven, as they’ve been dubbed, were fired after participating in an in-store media interview, which Starbucks leadership says violated several pre-existing policies. 🤨 Starbucks has five days from the ruling date to reinstate the fired employees and expunge employee records of their unwarranted terminations. In the time they were awaiting a ruling, the NLRB announced that the Memphis Seven’s store had voted for unionization. Why is Starbucks continuing to shoot itself in the foot with such blatant anti-union messages? Apparently, we’ll have to keep watching to find out. 👀

Feedback is all the rage, as report after report (after report) clearly demonstrates. 📣 But achieving a balance between casual real-time chats and formal annual reviews is tricky. If you’re struggling to find that sweet spot of regular, purposeful discussions with your employees about development, this fresh article from Culture Amp may have the answers you’re looking for. 🙇 It’s a digestible playbook-plus-cue card for preparing and guiding meaningful conversations that will help your employees identify their personal development goals and foster an engaged, supportive workplace for your team.


If you have teenagers or have been to a mall 🛍️ in the past month, you’ve probably heard the song of the summer (of the month). “Victoria’s Secret” by emerging artist Jax has gone from social media jingle to billboard hit in a matter of weeks. 😮 The song is a powerful commentary on the lack of inclusivity and diversity in the namesake lingerie company, and the public’s overwhelming celebration of the message has made it so that Victoria’s Secret leadership could not avoid it.

When I first added this topic to the Exit Interview queue, it was not shaping up to be the story of redemption that it seems now — barely a week after Victoria’s Secret CEO Amy Hauk issued the company’s first public statement on the controversy. 😐 The letter was…less than actionable, you could say. And I planned to speak about navigating corporate crises in the lightning-fast world of social media, 📱 how this external-facing controversy compared and contrasted to an employer branding calamity like Starbucks’, etc. But hours before writing this, Victoria’s Secret’s rebrand, VSNow, went live on their website. And for a company that’s clung to its original vision for so long, in the face of so much controversy, I am very impressed. 👏 👏

Now, I’m quite pleased to be making the exact opposite argument I had initially intended. As an organization, brand, or business leader, social media can seem like a disaster waiting to be unleashed. 😰 But at the end of the day, it’s no different than any other piece of tech in our digital transformation toolbelt. It can identify pain points, help us understand where we need to make changes, and create better experiences for all stakeholders — all we need to do is keep an open mind.

Editor’s Picks

Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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