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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan — Newsletter #95

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 few short days since Twitter’s sale and transition to a private company, new “Chief Twit”  🐦 Elon Musk has dove head first into gutting the social platform’s workforce, ousting top executives and allegedly directing managers to start building layoff lists — and letting them know they’ve been fired via early-morning emails. Are any of these things completely unheard of in major restructuring or ownership changes? No. Maybe this is a bit high-drama 👀, but considering the months-long spectacle this transaction has become, I’d expect nothing less. 

Related to what we do, what caught my attention is a story that surfaced over the weekend regarding Musk’s first assignment for the current Twitter employees. In an effort to increase revenue from subscriptions, Musk wants to bump up the price of the premium Twitter Blue package from $4.99 to $19.99. The price increase promises to be accompanied by new features and policies for being a verified user. The change may not be that big of a deal for Twitter users, but it’s Musk’s approach that’s under fire 🔥: the team assigned to the project has until November 7th to plan and launch the new service — or leave the company. 

When I first read the headline, I was convinced it was laced with clickbait phrasing. 🖱️ How could the founder of some of the world’s most innovative companies make such a boldly ridiculous threat to a brand-new team? 😳

I’ll talk and write your ear off about the importance of fostering a culture that works for your organization and its goals, and, as I’ve come to realize this week, there are two sides to that coin. Many of us may not agree with Musk’s track record of leadership. 📜 I couldn’t agree less with it and could never imagine employing that type of leadership — I believe it’s unsustainable and that high risk/high reward fosters stress and unnecessary pressure to perform. Yet, despite very public criticisms of the employee experience, getting hired at Tesla or SpaceX 🚀 is as competitive as it ever was.

The argument for culture, it must be acknowledged, goes both ways. Organizations are encouraged to foster a workplace that aligns with its goals and the goals of leadership, then candidates and employees must decide if that culture aligns with them and their needs. As fellow leaders, our only involvement with the decision is learning from it. In this case, for me, it’s been a great lesson on what not to do even if it works or not. ✍️ ✍️ ✍️


Tech Innovation At Work

The discussion surrounding the metaverse, and its role in the workplace, can verge on overwhelming. 🌐 Major companies like Accenture and Lowe’s are investing millions in digital twin metaverse recreations, constructing elaborate offices, warehouses, and campuses intended to encourage better team collaboration and performance. With those types of projects making headlines every day, the metaverse can seem a little out of reach for many organizations. But augmented and virtual reality are not exclusive to Zuckerberg’s creations, and finding ways to incorporate elements that improve engagement and learning retention 🧠 should be an active goal for leaders. 🙇 That’s why I love this article from SHRM about how companies are making the metaverse work for them, and how startups like Hour One are helping companies scale their metaverse tools to what works for their business. 🧰 👩🏾‍💼

LinkedIn has premiered a new Spotlight feature 💡for recruiters, which helps identify internal candidates for open positions. The new tool can help organizations prevent the loss of promising or tenured talent by encouraging recruiters and HR teams to promote current employees. With a lack of growth opportunities being one of the most-cited reasons for ongoing attrition, this new feature can help company leaders make tangible adjustments to their hiring strategies while also reducing their turnover. 🔁

The Changing Workplace

We haven’t had a normal holiday season in years. And while many were looking forward to a classic office holiday party this year, economic uncertainty and the looming mood-killer of layoffs will very possibly rain on our parades once again. A NerdWallet survey 💸 of UK-based businesses found that 36% of companies are reducing the budgets for their holiday parties, and 17% plan to skip the annual party altogether. But financial concerns aren’t the only angle of this debate. The explosion in remote hiring 🖥️ over the past two years has created much more culturally diverse teams and companies, leaving some organizations unsure how to design an inclusive holiday that isn’t ladened with heavily-American traditions. 🧑‍🎄 Deque Systems is one of the few companies that has tackled this concern by nixing seasonal celebrations. With more than a quarter of their team based outside of the US and roughly half not observing Christmas, Deque’s chief information accessibility officer Glenda Sims said in an interview with Protocol that their big team celebration is taking place in April. She notes, “We do know how to party. We just don’t do it related to holidays.” This is an approach that, admittedly, has never crossed my mind, but I love it and may very well broach the subject as we continue expanding our own diverse team.


All About Data

Love your buzzwords? When first getting into an industry, jargon can be outright intimidating. But as you settle in, hearing about what coworkers have on their radar or a new growth hacking strategy to finally start moving the needle can quickly go from exciting to exhausting. Language learning software company Preply recently 🚧 drilled down 🚧 on the good, the bad, and the ugly of buzzwords:

Fast Facts:

  • 20% of respondents chose not to apply for a job because the listing contained red flag buzzwords like “rockstar” and “fast-paced environment.”
  • Men are more likely to use jargon than women. 
  • 43% identified “culture” as an annoying jargon word. 

Actionable takeaways: Halloween may be over, but the possibility that employees see an organization’s culture as nothing more than jargon is the spookiest thing I’ve heard all year. 👻 This is a great, digestible piece that can help managers identify any self-subscribed red flags in their hiring assets, internal docs, emails, and the like. Read it here. 👈

The American Psychological Association 🧠 🧑‍⚕️ released its 2022 Work and Well-Being Survey results earlier this month. Though the data trends aren’t necessarily new, seeing one of the largest medical professional organizations in the country come to such unequivocal conclusions about mental health at work does bring a renewed sense of urgency:

Fast Facts:

  • 81% of respondents said an employer’s support for mental health would be an important consideration during their next job hunt. 
  • 60% of those who know their employers use some type of monitoring technology feel stressed or tense during the work day (23% consider the environment to be outright toxic).
  • More than half of workers aged 18-25 believe DEI initiatives are mostly for show. 

Actionable takeaways: Head into your 2023 planning with a sound understanding of your employees’ mindsets. Read the full report here.

Editor’s Picks

Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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