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The Water Cooler

A blog of fresh ideas and findings from organizational leaders and researchers on how they’re making work better, shared regularly.

Surprisingly awesome: The history of accounting with Adam Davidson

Double-entry bookkeeping might not be the flashiest of innovations to come out of the industrial revolution. But, while it was critical for the integrated enterprise, workers wound up on the "cost" side of the ledger, and maybe they shouldn't have.

KPMG Case Study: Motivating employees through purpose

KPMG wanted to understand the underlying factors that were influencing employee engagement at the audit, tax, and advisory firm. They discovered that a sense of purpose was the key and set out to reinforce this by soliciting stories from all levels of the organization.

Helping HR get a seat at the table

It is a common lamentation of human resource business partners everywhere - "I can't get a seat at the table." But a team at Google has come up with an innovative way to get a seat anywhere.

Get that second (and third) opinion on a candidate before hiring

Is it worth the extra time to get an extra interviewer to vet a candidate? The latest research from the Behavioural Insights Team in the UK shows just how valuable an extra reviewer or two can be to making the best hiring decision.

Tell us what’s working for you

We have a saying at Google that inspires our product development and our People Operations work: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” We want to learn how you're using re:Work content and how we can make it better.

Bring International Day of Happiness in-house

Sunday March 20 is the International Day of Happiness. Celebrate by considering how the research on positive psychology can help your organization, and commit to at least one act of happiness.

How do you innovate at scale within the federal government?

How do you get past "that's the way we've always done it" to find new and innovative ways to do things? Bryan Sivak brought scientific methods to the US Department of Health and Human Services and shifted the conversation so now they say "Let’s test it out. Let’s experiment."

Wegmans and Google on what a grocer and tech company have in common

You don't need to be in an industry with wide profit margins to treat your people well. Wegmans Food Markets has been doing it for years and credits their people with their success.

Connections, onboarding, and the need to belong

Few would disagree that relationships matter. However, when onboarding new employees, many organizations don’t do enough to help them make connections or foster a sense of belonging.

Data from the lunchroom could inform the boardroom

Does lunch table size impact workplace productivity? By using analytics and mapping interactions, we found that increasing lunch table size boosted performance by 10%. And the approach has implications reaching far beyond the cafeteria.

Stories and experiments from the UK Nudge Unit

“It’s easy to get 25 people to change the way they deliver a service, but how about 25,000?” This is the challenge that Joanne Reinhard of Britain's "Ministry of Nudges" faces as she experiments with better ways to scale influence and impact.

One step at a time: walking and creativity

We know exercise is good for your physical being, but research shows that a simple walk can also significantly boost your creative problem solving. Stepping away from your desk may give you an extra mental step.

Understanding others' mind-body values

Dr. Christine Looser examines why it is that we often value our own mental health above our physical well-being but when considering the priorities of others, we usually assume they value their body more than their mind.

Navigating stereotype threat and identity management in the workplace

Individuals of all types can face bias in the workplace, conscious and unconscious. How they manage bias related to their social group membership is called “identity management” and can have serious consequences, not just for individuals but for managers and organizations too.

People Analytics - where HR meets science at Google

"All people decisions at Google should be based on data and analytics." That's where Google's People Analytics group started, but Prasad Setty, Vice President of Analytics, Benefits and Compensation, explained how far the team has come.

Just how toxic are toxic employees?

Much of the focus in hiring, both the research and practice, is on finding the positive outliers, the “superstars.” But less studied are the negative outliers, the toxic employees. And our research shows that one toxic employee can wipe out the gains of more than two superstars.

Tom Friedman and Laura Tyson debate the "good" jobs economy

Tom Friedman, author and columnist, engaged in a conversation with Laura Tyson, former White House economic advisor and Haas School professor, at the 2014 re:Work event on why “good” job creation is critical to global economic development, political stability, and well-being.

Achieve your resolutions using the science of temptation bundling

If you’re trying to figure out how to stick to your new year’s resolutions consider “temptation bundling”, the idea of only allowing yourself to do something you enjoy, perhaps reading trashy novels, while doing something you know you should do, like exercising.

Superpowers at work: OKRs

Objectives and Key Results — the process by which leaders and their teams set ambitious, measurable goals each quarter — are a critical component of how Google’s leaders managed Google’s growth from day one.

How civility matters for you and your network

With New Year's resolutions around the corner, now is a perfect time to take stock of how we’re treating one another. Consider how civil you are, and what you can do to improve because research shows it can pay to be polite instead of political.