The Water Cooler
A blog of fresh ideas and findings from organizational leaders and researchers on how they’re making work better, shared regularly.
You don’t need a department of in-house social scientists to do your own people research. Partnering with an academic can be a win-win, furthering the science and helping you make data-driven organizational decisions.
In order to solve big problems, we need to focus on solutions. Sounds obvious, but when looking at how the media and even our workplaces can over emphasize the problems with little mention of solutions, research has shown that there is indeed a better way.
How does workplace transparency change the labor and the product? What if the employee and the customer could actually see one another? And what if they’re connected via an iPad video link? One researcher found it was a win-win.
Does your organization exist for a higher purpose? Research shows that a sense of working for something greater can help attract talent, increase employee engagement, and promote a sense of meaning at work. But how do you foster a sense of purpose at work?
Google research shows that those who rigidly separate their personal and work lives are significantly happier about their well-being than those who tend to blur the lines between the two.
Companies increasingly view their cultures as a source of competitive advantage and hire employees on the basis of cultural compatibility. But is it better to hire someone who “fits” initially or someone who could be able to adapt quickly?
Respect and incivility are each contagious as people reflect the treatment they receive. Research shows that individuals and organizations can influence workplace behavior in ways big and small by modeling and rewarding doing the right thing.
We all like to think that we’re ethical people most of the time. But the reality is our behavior is changeable and cyclical. Research suggests that by giving up on the idea of perfect ethicality, we can learn from our mistakes and improve our behavior.
Have you ever been congratulated at work but felt you didn't deserve it? Do you worry that you got hired accidentally and will be fired if discovered? You may be experiencing “impostor syndrome,” but don’t worry, you’re not alone.
To become our better selves it helps to visualize our best selves. Research shows that by reflecting on the type of people we want to be, we wind up feeling more psychological safety and elevating not only our own performance, but that of our entire team.
The idea of using behavioral science to help government agencies more effectively serve their constituents sounds great. But how do you build a high-impact, science-based organization within the government when you have no budget and no formal authority?
The way MBAs learn HR management hasn’t changed in decades. Whether it’s lectures, case discussions, or sophisticated simulations, students make a recommendation based on intuition, not data. Business schools need a different script to teach HR.
Mentoring a colleague who needs help. Doing an extra candidate interview. Celebrating a coworker’s birthday. Some call these things "going above and beyond," others think they’re simply the right things to do. Academic researchers call them "organizational citizenship behaviors."
Who are the best citizens in your organization and who are the most toxic? Research shows that they might actually be the very same people, like workplace Jekylls and Hydes. And the cause is likely not schizophrenic employees but perhaps the perception of abusive supervision.
Incivility is like being trapped inside a fog. Even if we're just witnesses, it can put us in a cloud of negativity and have profound effects on our mindset, attentiveness, and performance.
All the data in the world won’t help you make decisions if you can’t use it to influence decision makers. Whether you’re a scientist or an HR analyst, knowing how to communicate and tell stories using data is key.
The personalities on Saturday Night Live’s first season seem like they could have been a disastrous team. But SNL not only had a great first season, it’s also become a successful institution despite constant cast changes. So how did they do it?
When Google set out to understand what makes for an effective team, the researchers thought team composition would be most important. But it turned out that how a team interacts is far more important than who is on the team.
Speaking up at work can be difficult. People worry that their boss or colleagues won’t like what they have to say. As a result, people hold back on everything from good ideas to great questions. But by fostering psychological safety, all employees can feel safe to speak up.
From Olympic hockey teams to presidential cabinets, we tend to focus on the individuals when trying to predict team performance. But research shows that measuring collective intelligence is a far better indicator of success than any individual's performance.