Published May 20, 2009
| Wall Street Journal
Concerned a brain drain could hurt its long-term ability to compete, Google Inc. is tackling the problem with its typical tool: an algorithm.
The Internet search giant recently began crunching data from employee reviews and promotion and pay histories in a mathematical formula Google says can identify which of its 20,000 employees are most likely to quit.
Google officials are reluctant to share details of the formula, which is still being tested.
The inputs include information from surveys and peer reviews, and Google says the algorithm already has identified employees who felt underused, a key complaint among those who contemplate leaving.
Applying a complex equation to a basic human-resource problem is pure Google, a company that 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, said Google is one of a few companies that are early in taking a more quantitative approach to personnel decisions.
"They are clearly ahead of the curve, but a lot of companies are waking up to the fact that there is a lot of modeling that can provide you with critical data on human capital," Mr. Lawler said.