Hiring Lazy Isn’t Crazy

Talent managers may be overlooking a vital employee personality trait: laziness.

That’s right. Behavioral strategists Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan, in their new book “Selfish, Scared and Stupid,” advocate for the hiring of “lazy” employees.

Associate editor Kate Everson discusses the virtues of being "Selfish, Scared and Stupid" with the authors Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan. The video was originally posted with Talent Management's sister publication, Chief Learning Officer.<!–

Now, this doesn’t mean hiring a couch potato or slacker. Rather, Gregory and Flanagan’s definition of a lazy employee is a worker who challenges a company’s procedures, is uninterested in labor-intensive work, and is on the lookout for more streamlined processes.

“If you think about it, looking for an easier, less time-consuming, less labor-intensive way of doing something is actually a really innovative process,” Gregory said. “It’s actually about solving problems and finding new, more efficient ways of doing things.”

This so-called lazy mindset becomes an asset to a company, which saves everyone time and work.

But what’s the difference between an employee being efficient vs. lazy? Efficient employees might be doing their job as efficiently as they know, but they have their nose to the grindstone without questioning company processes, Gregory said. A lazy worker, on the other hand, will step back, question techniques and streamline current systems.

“‘Do I have to do it?’ is a really powerful question,” Flanagan said.

The strategists say résumés are a good tell to find this streamlined-thinking worker. Employees who have worked in a variety of fields are likely the type to question the status quo and find new solutions to problems. Employees who have taken a linear path in their careers will be more likely to work by the book.

 Gregory and Flanagan said talent managers should rethink what they call an “hours-at-desk mentality.” Rather than focusing on how many hours an employee puts in, the most important indicator of productivity should be output.