“Work Sucks,” Says Ex-Google HR Head: 6 Tips to Change That
Give meaning to your jobs—even if that meaning isn’t obvious at first-Managers and HR professionals need to help candidates and employees see the meaning behind their work. “If you’re a lox slicer, you’re feeding people,” Laszlo writes in his book Work Rules! “If you’re a plumber, you’re improving the quality of people’s lives, keeping their homes clean and healthy… Whatever you’re doing, it matters to someone. And it should matter to you.”
Trust your people—give them more freedom than you’re comfortable with Laszlo believes that people are inherently good, but that’s not how most companies treat their employees. Trust them to do the right thing and—surprise, surprise—they’ll do it. Giving employees the freedom and power to shape how they work isn’t just great for morale—it’s good for business, too.
New hires should be better than you—they should elevate the company, not just slot into a role. If they’re falling short of that metric, take more time to find the right people, even if the hiring manager says it can’t wait
Hire people who are better than you—hire by committee to avoid the biases of hiring managers A bad hire is worse than no hire: a toxic employee can poison the morale of the whole team. But when hiring managers are the ones calling the shot, they could get antsy pretty quickly, settling for a less qualified candidate just to get a warm body in the position. “Performance follows a power law distribution in most jobs,” writes Laszlo in Work Rules! “90% or more of of the value on your teams comes from the top 10%. As a result, your best people are worth far more than your average people.” Their pay should reflect their disproportionate impact: otherwise you’re incentivizing your superstars to walk away for the bigger paycheck they can rightfully earn at a competitor.
Pay “unfairly”—or rather, pay your top performers a lot more than others Tiny, low-effort nudges can make a huge difference and get people to make better choices. For example, Google changed up its kitchen setups, placing fruits and veggies in visible, eye-level spots and hiding junk food in opaque containers. With that little tweak, workers went for healthy snacks a lot more often.
Beyond wellness, this lesson can also help your team work better. "If you give people these small interventions—these nudges, these checklists—it does make a difference,” says Laszlo.
Nudge employees in the right direction—small changes lead to big shifts over time Tiny, low-effort nudges can make a huge difference and get people to make better choices. For example, Google changed up its kitchen setups, placing fruits and veggies in visible, eye-level spots and hiding junk food in opaque containers. With that little tweak, workers went for healthy snacks a lot more often.
Enjoy—and do it all over again Your work is never done. Let’s not pretend that you’ll tick through this list and fix everything in one fell swoop. Improving your workplace is an iterative process that you complete bit by bit, tweak by tweak.
Keep repeating this process, assessing the results, and optimizing your practices further. You won’t see an instant transformation, but over time, your culture will get better and better.
In Laszlo’s mind, it’s a binary choice: we can either accept the world of work as it is, “or,” Laszlo says, “we can do something—anything—to make work get better. Or at least suck less.”