The Top MIT SMR Articles of 2022

The most widely read articles of the year focused on employee engagement, toxic culture, and transformative leadership.

Reading Time: 3 min 


In 2021, Anthony Klotz, professor of management at the University College London School of Management, coined the term “Great Resignation” to describe the burgeoning economic trend of employees leaving their jobs in the wake of COVID-19. In 2022, we’ve seen how this reshuffling in the labor market has affected workplaces and managers. Employees are more vocal than ever about their dissatisfaction at work, and companies must now strike a balance between addressing employees’ needs to increase their engagement and planning for economic uncertainty in the months ahead.

It’s not surprising that, during the past year, readers sought out articles focused on removing friction from the workplace — from fixing toxic culture to rooting out bad bosses — and dived deeply into topics such as work design, decision-making, and corporate purpose. Employee engagement and well-being were also top of mind for managers, with articles on building a respectful hybrid work culture and supporting mental health among the most popular.

What follows are 15 of the most widely read MIT SMR articles of 2022.

Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation

Charles Sull, Donald Sull, and Ben Zweig

The authors discuss the top five predictors of employee turnover and share four actions that managers can take in the short term to improve employee satisfaction.

The Surprising Impact of Meeting-Free Days

Ben Laker, Vijay Pereira, Pawan Budhwar, and Ashish Malik

No-meeting days allow for efficient collaboration while preventing disruptions of focused, heads-down work. The authors suggest several ways to deploy a no-meetings policy or adjust an existing one.

Top Performers Have a Superpower: Happiness

Paul B. Lester, Ed Diener, and Martin Seligman

Research has found that happiness, a sense of well-being, and an optimistic outlook are powerful predictors of how well an employee will perform. Managers who consciously promote employee well-being and take steps to eliminate toxic leadership in their business units will reap the benefits.

How to Fix a Toxic Culture

Donald Sull and Charles Sull

Research shows that there are three critical drivers companies should focus on to decrease toxicity in the workplace: leadership, social norms, and work design.

To Be a Responsible AI Leader, Focus on Being Responsible

Elizabeth M. Renieris, David Kiron, and Steven Mills

As AI failures expose companies and their customers to risks and regulatory attention grows, new research from MIT SMR and BCG points to the value of cultivating responsible AI policies even before an AI system rollout.

The Cognitive Shortcut That Clouds Decision-Making

Jonas De keersmaecker, Katharina Schmid, Nadia Brashier, and Christian Unkelbach

Repeating false claims increases their believability, leaving business leaders vulnerable to faulty decision-making. This article describes the phenomenon in detail and provides four strategies for how to combat this form of cognitive bias.

Broaden Your Influence by Adapting How You Listen

Nancy Duarte

Managers can build leadership skills and influence teams by learning to adjust their listening approach for particular situations.

Saving Management From Our Obsession With Leadership

Jim Detert, Kevin Kniffin, and Hannes Leroy

Organizations tend to downplay or ignore how hard it is to be a good manager. This article details the skills that can turn the tide.

Leading Change Means Changing How You Lead

B. Tom Hunsaker and Jonathan Knowles

Contextually effective leadership comprises three key elements — creating a map, establishing the right mindset, and communicating the message — that drive desired change.

Make Leader Character Your Competitive Edge

Mary Crossan, William (Bill) Furlong, and Robert D. Austin

Fostering a culture where character is valued equally alongside competence can result in better decisions and outcomes.

How Well-Designed Work Makes Us Smarter

Sharon K. Parker and Gwenith G. Fisher

Work that permits autonomy and demands problem-solving can bolster employees’ cognitive skills and ongoing learning.

Shifting From B2B to B4B Can Build a More Sustainable Business

Sergio Restrepo and Efosa Ojomo

Reframing your B2B company as a business-for-business company can increase revenues, customer retention, and employee morale.

Unlock the Power of Purpose

Álvaro Lleó de Nalda, Alex Montaner, Amy C. Edmondson, and Phil Sotok

A new framework can help companies implement a corporate purpose that engages employees and drives their daily actions.

Disrespected Employees Are Quitting. What Can Managers Do Differently?

Kristie Rogers and Beth Schinoff

To effectively show respect for a hybrid workforce, managers should use employees’ time effectively, validate employee performance, send tangible respect signals, and offer visibility for employees and their work.

Mental Health Has Become a Business Imperative

Josh Bersin

Taking a holistic approach to supporting employee mental health improves business, talent, and innovation outcomes.


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Comment (1)
Stuart Roehrl
In skimming through the titles of your most popular articles for the year, I found that these were the same articles that I personally found to be most useful, memorable, and impactful over the past year.  Happy Holidays and looking forward to 2023.

Stuart Roehrl