Employee archetypes
0  /  100
28 Sep 2023
  • Website Development

Analyzing Employee Archetypes: Beyond the McKinsey Report

Start Reading
By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


The employee experience is an increasingly pivotal domain that intersects behavioral science and A.I. technology. McKinsey's recent report on the six employee archetypes has presented a fascinating approach to understand and measure employee engagement. While the report offers a useful framework for organizations to categorize and understand their workforce, a deeper scrutiny reveals some overlooked dimensions that warrant attention.

The Fluid Nature of Archetypes

One primary issue with the archetype system is its inherent rigidity. Employees may oscillate between different archetypes depending on a multitude of factors such as life events, project involvement, or even seasonal affective states. The report may inadvertently encourage employers to pigeonhole employees into static categories, thereby reducing their complex psychological profiles to mere labels.

The Blindsides of A.I. Analytics

While the original article extolled the virtues of A.I.-driven solutions, particularly for identifying "Quitters" and recommending interventions, we should also consider the ethical dimensions. These analytics could potentially invade privacy, trigger surveillance concerns, and instill a sense of mistrust within the workforce. Moreover, A.I. solutions are only as good as the data fed into them, which can often be skewed or biased.

The Overlooked Middle: Not Just "Mildly Disengaged"

While McKinsey's archetype of "Mildly Disengaged" employees is compelling, it doesn't account for a sizable segment that may be "Moderately Engaged." These employees might be committed to their roles but not particularly passionate or dissatisfied. Identifying and nurturing this segment could offer a substantial ROI for organizations.

The Disruptors: A Leadership Challenge

Labeling a segment as "Disruptors" can be stigmatizing, potentially sidelining those who may just be vocal critics of systemic issues within the organization. Leadership plays a crucial role in either amplifying or mitigating the negative impact of such individuals. Therefore, the onus is not solely on the "Disruptor" but also on the organizational culture that allows for disruption to fester.

The Myth of Double-Dipping

While "Double-Dippers" are portrayed as problematic, this archetype overlooks the gig economy's growing influence. Some employees find multiple roles fulfilling and may not wish to limit themselves to one organizational culture or skill set. The challenge for organizations lies not in eradicating double-dipping but in offering a work environment that is engaging enough to retain multi-job holders.

The Burnout Paradox for Thriving Stars

The report suggests that "Thriving Stars" are at risk of burnout and should be protected by limiting their project involvement. This is counterintuitive. Exceptional performers often seek diverse and challenging opportunities; limiting their roles might stifle their growth and eventually demotivate them.


McKinsey's report on employee archetypes offers a valuable framework for scrutinizing employee engagement and performance. However, a truly effective strategy must consider the fluid nature of these categories and the implications of data analytics on employee trust and privacy. It should also critically examine the influences of leadership and organizational culture, as well as recognize the nuances within each archetype for a more complete understanding of the employee landscape.

Tyrone Showers