Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg told delegates at a conference in Barcelona this week: "I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person." He added: "it's a pretty good test and I think this rule has served me well."
The suggestion, of course, is that without a synergy between employer and employee which Zuckerberg goes on to describe in terms of shared values and a confidence in decision making, it’s best not to hire at all, than to hire the wrong kind of person.
Human resources now plays a substantial role not only in the corporate sector but, increasingly, in the voluntary sector too. Hiring people is mostly about processes and compliance.
And most of us will be able to recall examples that we've heard of [or experienced at first hand as I’ve certainly done] of what happens when things don't work out. Any breakdown in relations between an employer and employee can inevitably result in stress and mutual personal angst. It can also have an undermining effect on any business or organisation.
The term “to hire someone” is of course an Americanism but, interestingly, the same verb has long been used to translate from the Greek original many of Jesus' parables which talk about work. Such stories are part of a greater teaching of what constitutes a happy and healthy society based on neighbourliness which does not exclude the workplace.
Work, in both the Old and New Testaments, is never described as best done in isolation. It is usually the antithesis of laziness or slothfulness. The emphasis instead is on the working together of employer and employee for mutual flourishing and the common good. Jesus couldn't be clearer when he says that good works create light and are always an example to others.
And going a step further, Jesus says that whatever you wish others would do to you, you should do to them. In the context of the contemporary workplace environment with its challenges and consequent stresses, this perhaps, is the greatest challenge of all.
Which is why I think Zuckerberg is possibly right to say there is no better starting point when hiring anyone than the old fashioned gut feeling.... is this going to work out well? Increasingly, in the modern workplace, that basic human connection is in danger of being lost altogether.