Tomorrow’s Technology, Yesterday’s Insights


Tomorrow’s Technology, Yesterday’s Insights

Sometimes what the tech world comes up with has already been tried and rejected and really doesn’t need to be resurrected — like the Taylorist view of the workplace. Sometimes the solutions have already been there for a long time. You just need to take a look around. At your fellow humans.

In his recent book “The Formula”, Luke Dormehl describes how

“… there is a dedicated team within Google called the People Analytics group, whose job is to quantify the ‘happiness’ of employees working for the company. This is done using ‘Googlegeist’, a scientifically-constructed employee survey, which is then mined for insights using state-of-the-art proprietary algorithms.”

“An example of what the People Analytics team does occurred several years ago, when Google noticed that a larger-than-normal number of female employees were leaving the company.”

Dormehl describes how the People Analytics group “drilled down with data-mining tools” for other numbers that might shed light on the problem. Was age, for example, a factor? Or something else? Well, indeed it was:

“The group discovered that this wasn’t so much a ‘woman’ problem, as it was a ‘mother’ problem: women who had recently given birth were twice as likely to leave Google as its average departure rate.”

“The most cost-effective answer, it was concluded, was to increase maternity leave from the standard 12 weeks of paid absence to a full five months. Once the problem had been identified and acted upon, the company’s attrition rate for new mothers dropped by 50 per cent.”

Alice Johnston

Alice Johnston

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UB, Mongolia

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