This case follows Patrice Ju, the new head of business operations for Google's People Development team, as she considers the best way to both attract the best new talent to Google and retain the talent Google already had. The COVID-19 pandemic had utterly changed the global landscape involving work, exacerbating many existing issues employees had. Coupled with "hustle culture," which glorified work and busyness and was especially prominent in the tech industry, employee burnout had skyrocketed between 2020 and 2022, leading to the Great Resignation, a mass exodus of workers from their jobs. Tech companies had seen high resignation rates—and a 2021 survey of US tech employees showed that 72% were thinking of leaving their employer in the next year. Employers scrambled to find ways to woo employees back, gain the interest of talent that had left other companies, and make the employees who were still working for them happier.
As the leader of a diverse and globally distributed team, Ju wanted to find the best way to improve employee engagement at Google. The annual employee survey had revealed some unhappiness among Googlers: the results had shown marked drops in sentiment around compensation and pushback against Google's post-pandemic return-to-office plan. Could Ju do something to improve Google's existing employee-engagement tools, or was this a unique opportunity for Ju to leverage a new, one-of-a-kind engagement tool driven by artificial intelligence (AI)? She was, after all, part of a company that had changed the world through the power of technology.