Working at Google is a dream job for many. Its swanky perks, bar-none benefits and the opportunity to work alongside some of the smartest minds in tech land Google near the top of "best places to work" lists, year after year.

And yet, not everyone sticks around. There's even a word for former Google employees: Ex-Googler, or Xoogler. As the head of HR at Google for over 10 years, Laszlo Bock tackled employee retention. He did so with gusto -- and great success. After instituting a five-month maternity leave plan, the attrition rate for new mothers dropped 50 percent.

"Under Bock, Google's HR department functions more like a rigorous science lab than the pesky hall monitor most of us picture when we think of HR," Slate wrote in 2013 about his efforts.

From Googler to Xoogler

Now Bock is a Xoogler himself. He wanted to branch beyond making Google one of the top workplaces. Last year Bock launched a startup called Humu, which has a somewhat nebulous mission to "making work better for everyone, everywhere."

We don't yet know how Humu plans to achieve that mission because the company has been operating in stealth mode. We know it's an HR-related technology platform. The term "behavioral change" appears a couple times on the website. Humu appears to be a data-backed platform that helps employers improve workplace happiness and productivity.

Oh, and it just raised $40 million in venture capital. Which means they're hiring. 

With the funding announcement, Bock has started to open up a bit about Humu's plans. He spoke with Quartz about it. Here's the main problem he says Humu is tackling: Employees don't feel they're getting the credit they deserve. They aren't being thanked for their contributions on and off the clock.

Use your manners

Sometimes the contributions you make at work are work-related. Often times they're not. For example, think of that person who makes sure everyone signs that birthday card. Or brings in home-baked brownies just because.

Does management remember to say "thank you" to that person? Do you remember? Not usually. "By simply thanking people in those types of environments, where it doesn't happen very often, it can have a disproportionate impact on performance," Bock told Quartz.

Feeling underappreciated impacts your productivity and happiness. If this pattern continues, you'll become miserable and bitter about your work. Eventually, you might quit.

According to Quartz's reporting, one component of Humu is figuring out who needs to be thanked for their efforts. When employees can get better about thanking each other, Bock believes that their workplaces will become happier and more productive environments. The ultimate goal? Higher employee retention.

"Our behavioral change technology helps people become happier, more productive -- and stick around longer -- in real time," the Humu website boasts.

You'd like to think that we are empathetic enough beings to observe the efforts of our colleagues and let them know we appreciate them. Unfortunately emotional intelligence isn't everyone's strong suit. Maybe some of us do need a little reminder every now and again. ​

Published on: May 8, 2018
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