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Google turns analytical engine inwards

Oompa Loompas under the microscope

Google has turned its famously analytical approach on its own human resources department, applying behavioural analysis to work out which staff might be thinking of jumping ship before they know it themselves.

The news comes in a report from the Wall Street Journal which claims the new approach is driven by recent high-profile departures from the Chocolate Factory and involves analysing data on the 20,000 or so remaining Oompa Loompas to accurately target incentives at those most likely to leave.

There's nothing radically new about this: Companies have long been chomping through employee data to work out how happy* staff are and similarly-pointless metrics, but Google is chucking in appraisal information and peer reviews, and claims the process has already identified staff who feel they are under-utilised - a key complaint from those quitting.

And a few people have been deserting the Chocolate Factory lately, including the head of advertising sales Tim Armstrong and lead designer Douglas Bowman, so Google would like to feed in lots of data and get out a list of those with aspirations of career-mobility.

One could argue that good management should know how happy, or not, their staff are, but that would be like arguing that a good designer knows what an interface should look like: Google is much happier letting statistics take care of the decision making, as the Chocolate Factory's human resources department told The Journal, it can "get inside people's heads even before they know they might leave" - which could come as a shock when your search engine delivers your P45 before you've even decided you were unhappy. ®

*The longer the average block of holiday, the happier the staff, apparently.

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