The Meaning of Work, and Why It Matters: A Conversation with Laszlo Bock ’99 and Professor Amy Wrzesniewski
Colloquium on Business and Society
Tuesday, Feb 19 2019 at 4:15 - 5:15 pm EST
165 Whitney Ave.
New Haven, CT 06511
Please join us for an intimate conversation between two leading voices on the changing nature of work. From the academic perspective to industry application to new technologies coming to market, Amy Wrzesniewski, Michael H. Jordan Professor of Management, and Laszlo Bock ’99 will shine a light on what it means to find meaning at work—and why it matters to industries as much as to individuals.
This event is open to the Yale community.
Laszlo Bock ’99Co-founder and CEO, Humu
Laszlo Bock is CEO of Humu, a company making work better through science, machine learning, and a little bit of love. His New York Times bestseller, WORK RULES!, has been published in more than 25 languages. Laszlo is also credited with creating the field of “People Analytics”, the application of academic-quality rigor and Google-paced innovation to people management. From 2006 to 2016, Laszlo was S.V.P of People Operations and a member of Google’s management team, growing the company to over 70,000 employees while ensuring the culture remained innovative and robust. During his tenure, Google was recognized over 150 times as an exceptional employer, and was named the #1 Best Company to Work For in the United States seven times. Laszlo is credited with creating the field of “People Analytics”, the application of academic-quality rigor and Google-paced innovation to people management.
“Bringing more data and science to how [human resources] decisions are made is incredibly exciting and incredibly terrifying at the same time,” said Laszlo Bock ’99 during a Colloquium on Business and Society at the Yale School of Management on February 19. Bock’s roles as former senior vice president of people operations for Google and cofounder and CEO of Humu, a technology company created to use behavioral science to make work better, have given him a front-row seat to the growing use of applied data, analytics, and machine learning in the field of human resources—and the challenges it presents.
Bock shared his insights into this fast-changing landscape—and the ways in which leaders can help to ensure these technologies have a positive and equitable impact—in a conversation with Amy Wrzesniewski, the Michael H. Jordan Professor of Management and an expert on how people experience work, titled “The Meaning of Work, and Why it Matters.”
“The fundamental challenge of management is that people are incredibly protean and varied,” said Bock. “For a manager to know how to manage you—not just in general, but on that day, and in combination with everything going on around you—is very difficult, and then there’s a tremendous amount of bias we introduce to how we deal with human beings... Data promises to address a lot of those things, but right now we’re in a kind of transitional stage [where] a lot of [companies are developing people-management products that] tend to replicate and perpetuate bias” instead of eliminating it.
The growth of this technology has created a need for ethical leaders who are able to bring their values to bear as new human resources systems evolve.
“What’s missing [in the current stage of people-management technology] are ethical frameworks, privacy frameworks, and much more explicit conversations about diversity and inclusion… There’s an opportunity for people like you,” Bock told students, “given this school’s ethical orientation and interdisciplinary orientation, to be much more thoughtful about how products are used and actually accelerate how we get to good outcomes rather than bad outcomes.”
Bock further urged audience members to use their Yale SOM education to improve work satisfaction among their future teammates and employees. Pointing to research by Wrzesniewski that found that only one-third of individuals feel called to do the work they do, Bock challenged students to help build happier workplaces.
“First, be true to yourself and your compass—that’s your responsibility,” said Bock. “For the people who work for you, try to create an environment that’s a little bit better than what sits beside you. When you create an environment that’s just a little bit better for the people underneath you, you will attract slightly better people, and your team will be better and will outperform.”