Lazy employees could be the key to business success?

Historically, hiring a ‘lazy employee’ was considered one of the deadly HR sins. However, Behavioural Strategists and Gruen Planet regular, Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan believe that a ‘lazy employee’ can be used to turn a struggling workplace into a hub of success.

Mr. Gregory and Mrs. Flanagan explain in their new book, Selfish, Scared & Stupid that the problem with diligent and self-sufficient employees lies in their most sought-after traits; they take responsibility, follow protocol and do what needs to be done without challenging the norms.

However, in this fast-paced business world, with systems that become outdated before they’ve even passed the prototype stage, lazy employees are key. The lazy employee looks for the quickest and easiest way to get a job done with the least amount of effort, making them an essential part of the modern day office. They bring with them more flexible thinking, faster responses and ever-evolving approaches; they question, agitate and in turn innovate.   

“What we need are people who will constantly re-evaluate, rethink and readapt our systems to the modern world of business. This is where the ‘lazy’ employee becomes valuable. It is the lazy employee who will look for an easier way, and who will actively seek out the shortcut. They have a minimum effort, maximum result mindset. Smart and lazy is a powerful combination. Our systems improve when clever people are lazy because superfluous steps are deleted,” say Mr. Gregory and Mrs. Flanagan.

“Technology itself is driven by smart and lazy people; people who were too lazy to get a stamp and wondered whether they could make letters electronic. It is these people who change our world.”

Mr. Gregory and Mrs. Flanagan explain that much like the latest Smartphone, diligent employees have quickly become superseded and here’s why.

Lazy employees re-evaluate systems – To keep up in the digital age, businesses need to consistently evolve and the best types of people to do this are those who will look for the easiest, quickest solution to a task.

Lazy employees agitate and question –Instead of following protocol, lazy employees tend to question the norm which can often bring unsolved issues to the surface quicker. 

The genius of the ‘lazy’ employee –Much like the industrial revolution, Dan and Kieran explain that the digital revolution is leading us into a historical milestone. It now requires us to have faster responses and ever-evolving approaches, making the lazy employee a powerful ally.

So next time you see your employee with their feet up on their desk, engrossed in their weekly newspaper, take a moment to question their laziness; maybe they’ve completed their day’s tasks or found a shortcut through that mound of paperwork.


Published by WILEY, Selfish, Scared & Stupid is available now in paperback RRP $25.95 from   

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