Google Discovers the Math behind Dissatisfied Workers

May 19, 2009 ( - Concerned a brain drain could hurt its long-term ability to compete, Google Inc. is tackling the problem with an algorithm.

Dow Jones reports the Internet search giant recently began crunching data from employee reviews and promotion and pay histories in a mathematical formula it says can identify which of its 20,000 employees are most likely to quit.

The move is one of a series Google has made to prevent its most promising engineers, designers and sales executives from leaving at a time when its once-powerful draws — a start-up atmosphere and soaring stock price — have been diluted by its growing size, according to Dow Jones.

Google is also using more traditional measures like employee training and leadership meetings to evaluate talent.

Google officials are reluctant to share details of the formula, which is still being tested, but the inputs include information from surveys and peer reviews. Google says the algorithm already has identified employees who felt underused, a key complaint among those who contemplate leaving, the news report said.

The comapny made using heavy data to drive decisions one of its “Ten Golden Rules” outlined in 2005.

Edward Lawler, director of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California, told Dow Jones Google is one of a few companies that are early in taking a more quantitative approach to personnel decisions.