(Google + new algorithm) x staff morale = the future of HR?

After a spate of high-profile employees leaving the Google fortress for pastures new, the internet emperor has developed a new way to identify which employees are most likely to leave: an algorithm.

The complex mathematical equation will pick up on data found in employees’ personnel files - appraisals, promotion and pay histories - and figure out who’s unhappy. Apparently it’s already worked in several cases.

Laszlo Bock, who runs human resources for Google, said the algorithm helps the company ‘get inside people's heads even before they know they might leave’.

Sounds pretty creepy and clinical to us, and it hardly gives off the most heart-warming impression. Employees want their HR team or managers to take personal notice of them, to pick up on any discontent themselves and to actually know what’s going on, without leaving it to a stream of computer data to inform them.

This is so mechanical and faceless, we wonder if it will actually make staff even more dissatisified with the current state of their HR. Yes, 20,000 employees is a pretty whopping amount to manage – but if a business is structured correctly, there should be the same level of employee-manager awareness as in a company with five people.

The answer to top executives and key team leaders leaving isn’t a new piece of maths or technology – it’s actually making time to listen to your staff, implementing a reliable system for finding out to any concerns they have early on, and accommodating their aspirations.

According to the Wall Street Journal one of the problems Google employees have with the company is the lack of structure in creating a clear career path. They don’t know where their futures are heading.

This is something really worth noting. Pretty much everyone likes to know what their next step is going to be – otherwise the future just seems like a terrifying abyss. Laying out to your employees what their next promotion could involve and discussing with them where they want to take their current role makes them feel involved and empowered. You should aim to hold meetings running over this at least twice a year, accompanied by appraisals.

Knowing what the next stage of their career could be motivates the employee to work harder to reach it. Working on those objectives together gives you a better feel for where their interests lie and how they can be of best use to your business. And it makes the employee feel listened to, valued and engaged with the business as a whole.

Which is a lot more than a mathematical equation can ever achieve.

  • Find out more about why it's important to appraise staff regularly here
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