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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.

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.

Many hands may not make light work

In 1957, British naval historian and management satirist C. Northcote Parkinson painted a cynical picture of a typical committee: It starts with four or five members, quickly grows to nine or ten, and, once it balloons to 20 and beyond, meetings become an utter waste of time.

How the US Army uses data to improve the lives of soldiers

The Department of Defense manages about seven million people. Major Paul Lester, Director of Research for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army, discusses how the Army uses HR data to improve the lives of its soldiers.

Be thankful for the power of gratitude

With Thanksgiving coming up in the U.S., and the new year right around the corner, it’s a time to reflect and give thanks for all that we have. But what if we considered our fortunes beyond just the holidays and expressed gratitude year round? Can we become more grateful?

The five keys to a successful Google team

Pod. Work group. Committee. Autonomous collective. Whatever you call it, you’re part of one at Google and probably wherever you work: a team. So if we know what makes managers great, why don’t we know what makes a team great?

How employees and managers can combat unconscious bias

Combatting unconscious biases is hard, because they don’t feel wrong; they feel right. But there are things that individuals - employees and managers - can do to mitigate the potentially negative influence of unconscious bias.

Let’s make work better

We spend more time working than doing anything else in life. Work should be motivating and energizing, and that’s just not the reality for too many people.

Job crafting and creating meaning in your work

Rarely are jobs designed to match the talents, preferences, and aspirations of the individual. Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management, discusses the art and science of job crafting.

Scientifically, happiness can be a choice

Can happiness really be a choice? Our brains are incredible, yet still finite, so when we spend our precious mental resources scanning for the negative, we have fewer resources for the positive.