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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan — Newsletter #93

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

It is the most wonderful time of the year: health insurance enrollment. 

I’ve always found it very fitting that most annual enrollment periods happen around Halloween — I can’t think of anything spookier than the reality that a significant portion of the workforce doesn’t know how to engage with their benefits packages. 👻

That’s exactly why I consider healthcare and retirement benefits among the most difficult areas of HR work. Insurance is one of those life skills that should have been taught in school, but instead, every employee in the US spends between one hour and several weeks each year anxiously deciphering page after page of documents ladened with fine print. 😥 That’s alarming when these documents dictate everything from how much an emergency will cost 💸 and where we can get our glasses 🥸 to when we’ll be able to retire. It can be incredibly frustrating when workers don’t take advantage of all available benefits, but it’s important to remember that most of us are just embarrassed to admit that we don’t fully understand how, and I encourage you to keep that in mind over the next few weeks. 🧠 ♥️

Tech Innovation At Work

ServiceNow has teamed up with AI startup Hugging Face 🤗 (the makers of Dall-E mini) to launch BigCode, a collaborative project to create AI systems for code that is ethically sourced and responsibly built. The software titan and the memeable picture platform are an unlikely duo. Hopefully, they can prove themselves to be a match made in heaven 🤝 as they aim to create and train one of the largest code-generating systems powered by ServiceNow’s in-house software. If their program is successful, using machine learning and artificial intelligence 🧠 🤖 to help coders perform monotonous tasks like debugging could go a long way in mitigating the IT talent shortage and preventing burnout 🔥 in programmers.


Textio has become the first company to create an AI-enabled software tool for combating bias in written performance feedback. ✍️ ✍️ ✍️ The program provides comprehensive auditing of all written performance and provides actionable suggestions to make feedback more helpful (much like the AI writing assistant Grammarly). Individual reviews are then aggregated to reveal any harmful patterns 📊 in company-wide performance reporting, such as biased language or inequity in the quantity or quality of feedback among groups. ⚖️ Both gender and racial biases are well-documented in organizations of all sizes. And with performance reviews impacting an employee’s engagement as well as their opportunities, the need for a level playing field goes without saying. Uber 🚗 is one of the first companies to implement Textio’s new tool. Diane Krieman, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Initiatives and Operations, said in a statement about the partnership, “It’s one thing to hire a diverse team. It’s another to retain and grow them…Neuroscience tells us that what is most impactful beyond just creating awareness and educating, is interrupting bias in the moment, which makes the potential of tools like this so exciting.”

The Changing Workplace


Q4 is upon us and piled atop the standard holiday chaos and year-end business dealings is the very real and growing threat of burnout. 🔥 I know we may be getting sick of hearing about it, but leaders truly need to be on high alert for the next few months and keep their eyes peeled for subtle signs of burnout. 👀 Here are three telltale (but rarely identified) signs I’ve come across lately:

  1. Meetings are quieter and shorter: 😶‍🌫️ Maybe it’s a feeling of being too busy for small talk. Maybe it’s animosity. Either way, if you’ve noticed your employees are less chatty (dare I say, a little cranky) or seem more rushed during meetings, it could very well be that burnout is to blame. 
  2. Employees are sick for long periods: Beyond the concern that remote work is undoing all the progress we made during the pandemic regarding taking time off when sick, burnout can make you more susceptible to illnesses like the common cold or flu. 🤧 And without the ability to disconnect from work stress and allow the body to recover, a stuffy nose or lingering cough can drag on for weeks. 🗓️
  3. Work is getting done at all hours of the day: Workday flexibility is one thing, but if you notice that an employee is constantly online and working inconsistent hours, it’s possible that an unrelenting, high-demand workload — something I’ve heard called a marathon sprint 🏃💨 — is draining their ability to focus, forcing them to work longer hours to complete the same amount of work and, ultimately, worsening burnout. 

Speaking of getting work done at all hours of the day, I came across an older but amusing thought piece this week. Forget your sign — here’s a chance to learn your after-hours email style. 📩 Like a one-way Buzzfeed quiz with actionable takeaways, The HR Capitalist analyzes the delicate dance of 9 pm emails: whether you should send them, whether you need to respond, why there hasn’t been a universal adoption of the schedule send feature, and more. 🧐 I appreciate the realistic exploration of both the employer and the employee side and agree that, as of right now, there is not one correct answer. Give it a read. 📖

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Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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