Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: How to get remote work right

The tech company that claims it can stop employees from quitting

Can it be that all it takes to keep employees happy is clever software? This company claims its software works 97% of the time.

screen-shot-2021-09-27-at-9-30-41-am.png

You see how happy they are? Last week, they both wanted to quit.

Screenshot by ZDNet

The strongest thought that abides in me is that technology can solve everything.

The second strongest thought is that technology hasn't solved everything... yet.

Which then leads me to worry that I'll never see the glorious day when it has.

So I was uplifted to rafters unimagined to learn there's a tech company that's solved a fundamental problem of corporate life: the unhappy employee.

Laugh all you will -- I did -- but GrowthSpace's tease is a tantalizing one. It insists that 97% of the people who were subject to its technology said it was "an active incentive for them to stay at their company."

How does it do this magical thing? Well, in the company's own words: "Say goodbye to pouring budget into training programs with unknown results. Say hello to an algorithm-powered system backed by real-world skill mapping that ensures the perfect match between employees and experts. Every time."

I wanted to say hello, of course. Until I saw the phrase "algorithm-powered."

Please forgive me, but I'm suspicious of algorithms -- all of them -- as particular people with particular myopias construct them. And I suspect they're the sorts of people I may not particularly like.

"Intelligent employee development requires data from both participants and managers," says GrowthSpace. And there I was thinking it required managers who care and employees who want to be cared about.

Still, one can conceive that the company can, in some fine algorithmic way, "source that information and put it at your fingertips, allowing you to make better decisions about who needs what training input."

It's surely true that many employees feel ignored, misunderstood and conclude that the best way is to go away.

Can "access to our carefully curated application-only talent network comprised of certified coaches, mentors and trainers with deep-running industry experience" prevent this?

One can try to take GrowthSpace's word for it. Or we can try to believe Liad Agmon, CEO of Dynamic Yield. You might remember this company being bought by McDonald's to help it introduce technology in many parts of its service -- technology that may ultimately contribute to McDonald's needing far fewer employees.

Agmon, though, is an enormous believer in the beat of GrowthSpace's 'algo-rhythm'.

He offered: "By using the advanced data capabilities of the GrowthSpace platform, we could track employee progress before, during and after each personal development sprint and correlate those activities to business results. The ability to offer tailored and personalized professional development not only to executives but also mid-management and individual contributors is aligned with our innovative, employee-centric culture that leads to better, happier and more fulfilled employees."

Steady on there, Liad. I have questions. A personal development sprint? Is that really the best way to live life, to race through it? What about savoring... smelling the petunias... having a nice dinner occasionally?

And goodness, the mere idea that the lowly "mid-management and individual contributors" might benefit too? Shouldn't they be the first to benefit? I thought executives already had all the answers. Or at least the budgets to find them.

I wouldn't wish to suggest that GrowthSpace is a stroke of genius. I'd hope, however, that it does work. These days, when so many employees are threatening to quit, or indeed quitting -- they call it the Great Resignation -- management ought to be working extremely hard to create paths for them to stay. And even see a future for themselves.

Moreover, as so many refuse to return to the office and make their feelings well known -- hullo, Apple -- can this sort of technology make them reconsider their place in a company? Can it make them feel more respected, more revered?

GrowthSpace's CEO and co-founder Omer Glass told me he has the workplace democracy thing covered: "Our programs are all done over Zoom or Teams. That's part of what makes them scalable. So it doesn't matter if you're working from home or not."

Glass insists that his GrowthSpace's fine systems can help companies develop their team at scale and measure the impact of programs on individual employees.

In the (desperately near) future, your manager is likely to be an algorithm anyway. Perhaps, then, you should get used to the way the Algogod thinks now.

Your career may depend on it.