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  • #4: The paradox of elite teams: more harm than good?; Fired for not being “fun enough”, he laughed hard at the end; Parenting hack: teach your children this one lifetime skill.

#4: The paradox of elite teams: more harm than good?; Fired for not being “fun enough”, he laughed hard at the end; Parenting hack: teach your children this one lifetime skill.

You have 3 to 5 seconds to impress the recruiter - what should you do?; The sighs reveal more to your boss than you think; The effects of remote working, in two powerful case studies.

Welcome to the fourth edition of Hacking Work International Newsletter!

Here’s what you can expect every Thursday:
Updates on the global job market; the latest developments in leadership and organisational culture; valuable insights into professional and educational landscapes; modern perspectives on careers; and the evolving nature of work.

In today's email:

Keeping the best people on the same team is seriously damaging to the health of the organisation.

In a dynamic and competitive labour market, with recruitment times getting longer and longer, many managers are tempted to hold on to the most talented people on their team. This practice, known as “talent hoarding," can have negative consequences for the business. A Gartner 2020 study found that more than half of managers admit to preventing subordinates from exploring opportunities outside their team.

Researchers from Cornell and Pennsylvania State University analysed 96,700 internal applications submitted to more than 9,890 job postings at HealthCo, a US healthcare services company, between 2014 and 2017. They conclude that managers who hold back talent excessively can negatively impact internal mobility, and employees become demotivated and want to leave the organisation altogether.

“When you open up opportunities for people to find different jobs in the organisation, it's super beneficial to the company, because then people move around to where their skills are most valuable,” says JR Keller, one of the paper’s co-authors.

The effects of remote working — two case studies.

Since the pandemic ended, employers have been trying to entice, persuade, request or even force employees to return to the office. Despite studies that contradict this belief, companies continue to claim that employees are more productive in the office.

A study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, analysing 137 companies from the S&P 500 between 2019 and 2023, discovered that firms requiring employees to return to the office did not exhibit any economic growth. 99% of them witnessed a decline in employee satisfaction at the workplace.

“When you force people back to the office, which most people don’t like, they react negatively to this mandate because they know they can do the job [remotely],” Mark Ma, the author of the study, explains.

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that approximately 78% of employees worked from their company's office in December 2023, compared to 81% in 2022.

On the other side of the globe, the Australian software giant, Atlassian, encourages its employees to work 'from anywhere.' The focus is on how the work is executed rather than the physical location. In the report titled “Lessons Learned: 1,000 Days of Distributed at Atlassian,” the company surveyed 5,000 employees. 92% of respondents assert that the 'zero mandatory office days' policy is crucial for them to deliver their best, and 91% state that it is one of the primary reasons for their continued commitment to the company.

a gen z working away from tho office, in a tropical place - hacking work international

Image generated with Dall-E

The secret travels of Generation Z: a response to poor management.

Almost half of young employees (44%) have gone on “secret trips” while pretending to work from home, according to a recent survey by ResumeBuilder

  • 57% of those who travelled maintained the appearance of normal working hours;

  • 65% changed their background during online meetings to fool their employer;

  • A third worked two hours a day or less;

  • Most managed to complete their tasks and their productivity was not affected.

Sure, it's not great to see almost half the Generation Z workforce lying to their bosses, but is it, as some are quick to say, lazy? Secret trips could be a symptom of poor management, not a lack of commitment, experts say. Sitting at a desk for hours instead of focusing on results and quality of work is an outdated approach, and Generation Z seems to have found an ingenious solution to work-life balance.

Gen Z are rejecting traditional work norms in favour of entrepreneurship and independence. The lack of diversity, flexibility and rigid hierarchies in traditional companies are driving them away from traditional jobs, reshaping the business environment and forcing companies to adapt to their preferences and values.

Byte-sized news

7 out of 10 employers say creative thinking will be the most in-demand skill in 2024. Specifically, 73% of organisations surveyed in the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs study said that creative thinking is the number one skill they look for in candidates and that it will become increasingly important in the future. In the context of rapid change in the workplace, driven by remote or hybrid working and the integration of new technologies, the ability to think creatively is essential for career development, adapting to change, maintaining a competitive edge and cultivating a growth mindset. Moreover, creativity is a skill that artificial intelligence cannot replicate.
70% of US managers are not trained to lead hybrid teams, and this is affecting employee engagement, according to Gallup. Only one in three Americans are engaged at work, and the actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $1.9 trillion in lost productivity. A major factor in the decline of employee engagement is a lack of role clarity, and those who work remotely and in hybrid roles are more susceptible to this lack of clarity. Managers involved in employee development and clearly articulated expectations help to keep employees engaged.
Fired for not being “fun enough”, but had a good laugh after 9 years in court. A Parisian employee has been rehired and awarded almost €500,000 in compensation after he was sacked for not being "fun" at work. The Court of Appeal ruled that his refusal to take part in company social events involving excessive alcohol consumption was not a valid reason for dismissal. The decision follows a nine-year legal battle and sets an important precedent in French case law on employee rights and fundamental freedoms.
More than 5000 employees of Europe's largest software company are threatening to resign. Employees of SAP SE have signed an internal letter criticising the German company for calling employees into the office three days a week starting with April. Employees feel betrayed by the company's sudden change of direction, which until recently encouraged them to work from home. But SAP says it is adjusting its working policies to strike a balance between remote and on-site work, with the aim of increasing productivity and employee well-being.
When career advancement becomes a kick in the butt. Many people leave their jobs and employers shortly after being promoted. It sounds strange and paradoxical, but it's a common and internationally observed phenomenon. A third of people who have been promoted resign within a month. For those who have not been recently promoted, the resignation rate is only 18%. What this tells us is that people do not stay with a company just because they have been promoted.

You have three to five seconds to impress a recruiter.

To extract the information they need in a short time, recruiters actually scan for keywords and focus on the very elements of a CV that show whether a candidate should move on to the interview process, according to Simon Taylor, a former Disney recruiter

Here's what recruiters really look for, and how to make sure your CV stands out:

  • Current job title: This is the first item to be checked, with recruiters comparing it to the role they're hiring for. The similarity between your current role and the role you are applying for indicates a smooth transition and the relevance of the skills you bring to the table.

  • Previous experience: The name of the last company you worked for is also important. It gives an insight into the professional culture you are familiar with and can adapt to in the future.

  • CV summary: Although not mandatory, it can be extremely useful, especially when you are presenting to the recruiter the key skills and experience relevant to the job you want.

Improving your CV based on these tips will give you the chance to get past the recruiter's initial scan, giving you a competitive edge in the few seconds you have!

Employee well-being is a necessity, not an option.

Only 48% of American employees believe their employers care about their well-being, and 60% of those who don't feel valued are likely to look for a new job in the next year, according to a recent Aflac survey.

Also concerning is the high level of burnout among employees. 57% of respondents experience moderate or severe burnout, with stress from heavy workloads being the main cause. Generation Z and Millennials are most affected by burnout.

The gap between employers' perceptions and the reality experienced by employees appears to be one of the main causes of dissatisfaction. Companies tend to overestimate satisfaction and understanding of benefits, while employees have a significantly different perspective.

Companies need to take employee wellbeing seriously and implement concrete strategies: creating an open and vulnerable work environment, encouraging dialogue about mental health and wellbeing, and providing tools and resources for mental and financial health.

A dystopian scenario: Bosses measure whether you've sighed too much.

To monitor employee performance, companies are still resorting to measures that seem straight out of a Black Mirror episode: from recording every click and analysing facial expressions and tone of voice to analyse “mood and sentiment" to AI software that assesses whether call centre staff are answering customer questions “correctly” according to a pre-set script.

A recent example is giant EY, which, as we wrote in the last issue, has used data from access turnstiles to monitor employee attendance at the office.

This approach, along with other technologies such as CCTV cameras and tracking devices, has been adopted across a range of sectors, showing a worrying trend towards the workplace becoming a perpetual surveillance zone.

Despite stated intentions to improve productivity, this intensive surveillance undermines trust and creates a tense working environment. Employees feel devalued and deprived of privacy, but Big Brother doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Gartner predicts that by 2025, more than 70% of large organisations will be using such technologies.

Feeling misunderstood at work? Here are three communication skills to refine:

While you've likely heard about the importance of communication, have you ever considered its impact on your career success? A clear and concise message can enhance collaboration, foster teamwork, and increase overall productivity. Here are three tips to help you sharpen your communication skills:

  1. Communicate concisely. Unclear or complicated communication can lead to misunderstandings, resulting in delays and decreased productivity. Make a conscious effort to express yourself clearly and concisely. Start by identifying key points and using straightforward language. To ensure your messages are clear, practice in front of friends or family and adjust your message based on their feedback. This may involve shortening your text, avoiding jargon, and simplifying your message.

  2. Enhance email communication. In today's professional landscape, effective email communication is essential. Craft emails with engaging structure and clear conclusions. Communicate clearly any expectations you have for your colleagues after reading your message.

  3. Practice active listening. If you find yourself in a conversation just to speak rather than to listen, you may be missing a crucial aspect of communication. Individuals who feel heard are often more motivated. To practice active listening, focus on the speaker, ask clarifying questions, and minimize interruptions. Make eye contact, validate perspectives, and show genuine interest. Following their input, ask relevant questions to sustain and deepen the conversation.


If you want to learn 10 new interesting things every Tuesday, check out the deepculture newsletter. It’s a quick, interesting, useful, and enjoyable read, making it the perfect choice for the curious mind.
“Brief, eclectic curation like little candy for your brain” - Jeremy Caplan, Wonder Tools
For an in-depth analysis of how work, the workplace, and workforces are adapting to meet new expectations, consider subscribing to the WorkLife newsletter. It covers critical changes in areas such as leadership, technology, culture, DE&I, talent, and workspaces with clarity and insightful reporting.

Today's children's inner efficacy becomes an asset in tomorrow's adult hands.

Inner efficacy stands out as the crucial factor for the enduring success of children and their transformation into future-ready adults, as concluded by psychologist Aliza Pressman after analysing data from over 20 years of study involving parents and children. Defined as confidence in one's ability to achieve set goals, the capacity for inner efficacy is frequently overlooked in children's education, both within educational systems and at home.

Aliza Pressman emphasizes four primary sources for cultivating inner efficacy: exposing children to successful experiences, observing the achievements of others, reflecting on past successes, and promoting the maintenance of a calm demeanour in the face of challenges.

Research indicates that young individuals with a strong belief in their abilities are more inclined to embrace challenges and consistently strive toward achieving goals. Furthermore, they tend to focus on factors within their control rather than attributing failures to external circumstances or personal shortcomings. In essence, they are more resilient and less susceptible to being shaken or demoralized. The emphasis on inner efficacy becomes crucial for fostering a growth mindset and an optimistic attitude, which are key elements for the long-term success of any individual.

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The newsletter is written by the Hacking Work team: Cristina, IoanaIzabellaAndreea, Ionuț, Loredana, Tibi, Iulia and Doru.

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