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HBR’s Most-Read Research Articles of 2022

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For many of us, the arrival of the new year can be equal parts exciting and scary. While the promise of a fresh start is always welcome, it’s also a reminder of all the challenges we’ve faced in the past 12 months — and all that still await us, that we’ve yet to overcome.

But as we begin to draft our New Year’s resolution, it helps to remember all the progress we have made. In fact, we’ve all faced countless obstacles in the past year, from navigating our own shifting identities and priorities to confronting the chronic inequity of the world around us. And HBR publishes dozens of research-backed articles that offer insights and strategies to help us address the most pressing issues we face as individuals, managers, and leaders. So as 2022 draws to a close, we’ve decided to look at the research questions our readers have heard the most over the past year:

Winter: Be Your Best Self

Last winter, our most read research articles focused on what it takes for us to become the best versions of ourselves. on When a Big Life Change Raises Your Self-Esteem, the authors share takeaways from a decade of research on how people react to extreme positive and negative life changes, whether that’s getting a new job, moving in a new country, or even integrating into your community after a period of incarceration. They describe how it falls easily paralysis of birth – a sense of mental stuck-ness where your senses struggle to come to terms with your new reality – and they offer five tactical strategies to help anyone let go of the past, embrace a new identity, and continuing on a path towards growth.

Another popular piece, The Psychology of Your Scrolling Addiction explores a challenge that becomes more mundane, but that we all struggle with (especially during the dark and dreary winter months): A series of studies shed light on why we fall down rabbit holes on social media, and what we can do to break free and refocus on the things we really want to achieve. And finally, Research: To Excel, Diverse Teams Need Psychological Safety reminds us that it is up to managers and organizations to foster an environment that enables everyone to reach their potential. The authors followed 62 drug-development teams in six large companies, and they found that especially for diverse teams, the development of a psychologically safe environment is important for performance and the well-being of employees.

Spring: Moving Past Leadership Brief

From April to June, our biggest hits all examine the common ways in which leaders fall short — and what they can do to avoid these pitfalls. Stop Making the Business Case for Diversity offers (another) condemnation of the oft-cited “business case” for diversity, pointing to recent research showing that underrepresented candidates are less likely to want to work in a place that justifies its commitment to DEI on the grounds that diversity benefits the company’s bottom line. . Based on an analysis of Fortune 500 messaging companies and lab studies with more than 2,500 LGBTQ+ professionals, women in STEM fields, Black American college students, and other candidates, the authors argue that if organizations must justify their commitment to diversity, they must do so on moral grounds – but to make the most progress toward the goals of DEI, they must consider not making any case. After all, companies don’t feel the need to explain why they believe in values ​​like innovation, stability, or integrity. So why treat diversity differently?

Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do seems obvious, but it’s not the only seemingly intuitive best practice that many leaders still struggle with. The authors of Research: More Powerful People Express Less Gratitude conducted a series of studies that showed that the more powerful you are, the less likely you are to be grateful. They found that powerful people tend to feel entitled to the favors and benefits they receive from others, and so they often fail to express gratitude in situations where less powerful people might be more grateful, ultimately harm their relationships and make them less effective leaders.

Another piece that strongly inspires our readers, Monitoring Employees Makes Them Likely to Break the Rules examines how the common management practice of tracking employee activity may backfire. Many companies are investing in tools like desktop monitoring, video monitoring, and even biometric monitors in an effort to prevent workers from breaking the rules, and yet the authors’ research suggests that these technologies can increase harmful behavior in the workplace. For example, they found that monitored employees were more likely to cheat on a test, steal equipment, or deliberately work at a slower pace, because they subconsciously felt less responsible for their actions in when they know they are being watched.

Summer: Fight Inequity

Over the summer, Quiet Quitting was trending on TikTok. We see a renewed interest in fighting for a workplace that prioritizes well-being and transparency, and it requires a unified, nuanced approach to addressing the unfair systems that continue to hold back our people. organization.

Our top-performing research piece for the year was When Quiet Stops Are Worse Than The Real Thing. This action-oriented take offers managers an overview of the trend, its causes, and tactical, research-backed steps to help them navigate it. Through the lens of the psychological concept of “organizational citizenship behaviors,” the authors discuss how when workplaces do not prioritize fairness and well-being, employees are less likely to act as organizational citizens and continue to extra miles. And while they acknowledge that this is not necessarily a problem in certain roles and contexts, they argue that increasingly unemployed workers should be a cause for concern for employers and employees.

Of course, addressing the underlying factors driving growing worker discontent will not be easy. on Research: The Unintended Consequences of Paying Transparency, for example, the authors found that as pressure grew on employers to improve pay equity by making pay-related information visible to employees, many organizations stumbled on implementation. Based on a study of British, American, and Chinese companies, they identified some unintended consequences of these policies, including narrower wages and more personal negotiations for alternative forms. in payment.

The complexity surrounding the fight for equity is front and center in our last summer hit, We Can’t Fight Climate Change Without Fighting For Gender Equality. While gender equality and environmental sustainability may seem unrelated issues, this piece draws on a wide range of research to show how they are in fact intertwined. The authors argue that women and other underserved groups are both disproportionately affected by the climate crisis and uniquely positioned to overcome it, going on to offer strategies to help leaders take an intersectional approach to pursuing equity and sustainability in all their forms.

Fall: Trust Your Instincts

Finally, our most popular fall articles encourage our readers – in one way or another – to trust their instincts, embrace who they are, and express themselves authentically. Stop Telling Introverts to Act Like Extroverts offers a welcome rebuttal to the common wisdom that introverts must act more extroverted to get ahead. The authors discuss findings from their own research and several previous studies, all of which suggest that if you’re naturally more introverted, putting on an extroverted face can be more draining and will eventually fail to pay. Thus, the authors argue that instead of assuming that extroversion is always best, introverts and extroverts alike should reflect on activities that they personally find energizing or exhausting, and take proactive move to manage their energy levels socially however works best for them.

Our autumn readers are also interested in how to answer the question: Are you silent? In this piece, researchers share takeaways from a survey of over a thousand American workers, looking at both how to spot the warning signs that your amo tries to “encourage” you to go out, and what to do when it happens. They describe the various changes an employer can make to your responsibilities, compensation, working conditions, and communications, providing some helpful validation and recommendations for employees who may feel which is light in their workplaces.

But of course, reliability comes in all shapes and sizes. While we may focus more on expressing our true selves in our relationships (and making sure our employers are honest and genuine in their treatment of us), Research: Simple Writing Pays (Literally) reminds us that honesty is a choice we can make even in the smallest of actions. Whether you’re writing a novel or sending a quick message on Slack, research shows that saying what you mean — without too much embellishment or jargon — is always your best bet.

• • •

The New Year is a great time to set ambitious goals. But with our big plans, we shouldn’t be afraid to build in some flexibility as well. After all, if the past year is any indication, we’re likely to encounter all kinds of unexpected obstacles and opportunities in the coming months. So instead of taking a one-and-done approach to goal setting, consider leaving yourself room to adapt as new challenges inevitably come to light, new research and evidence emerge, and your own priorities have shifted. Remember: January 1st is not the last time you are allowed to make a resolution.

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