Editor's note: Leading up to Education on Air tomorrow, we asked what topics you’d like to discuss at the conference. The clear winner was “innovation in schools,” so here Laszlo Bock, head of People Operations (what others call HR) at Google shares his expertise on creating great workplaces. Laszlo will share findings from his new book, Work Rules!, in his Education on Air keynote Friday. Register for the free online conference today.

I’ve had the opportunity to study what makes a great place to work—including researching how people work and play together, what makes employees productive, efficient and happy, and what excites them about coming to work. Through working at Google and speaking with teams at other organizations, I’ve learned some really cool things about how we can make work better. We spend more time at work than anywhere else in our lives. So shouldn’t it be more positive and meaningful?
Laszlo Bock, SVP of Google People Operations, will share ideas from his new book "Work Rules" during Education on Air.
At Education on Air, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned in the form of what I call “work rules.” Sure, people will debate which of these rules can apply to education, but in speaking with educators, I’ve learned that many of them do. Yes, schools face requirements and regulations, but that doesn’t mean they can’t innovate. For example, Eric Sheninger shares how digital tools can help educators lead 21st century schools. Ryan Bretag, the Chief Innovation Officer for Glenbrook High School District 225 in Illinois, has created space for innovation in his district. Ryan (along with hundreds of other educators) will share how they’ve implemented change in their schools throughout Education on Air. I’ll be sharing more “work rules” in my talk at Education on Air, but in the meantime here are some of my thoughts on building a strong culture.

Meaning is the foundation of your workplace

The first rule in my book is “Give your work meaning.” Everyone wants to find meaning in his or her work—no matter what it is—and strives to feel inspired by what he or she does. I’m awestruck by educators who spend their time finding ways to reach students with different needs, helping them learn, create, code and follow their passions. As an educator, you’re already doing some of the most important work that anyone can do, so you have a leg up on many other industries in finding meaning.

Mindset is so important here. Amy Wrzesniewski, a researcher at Yale University has shown that there are three ways for people to see their work: as a job (“a necessity that is not a major positive in their lives”), as a career (“something to ‘win’ or ‘advance’”) or as a calling (“a source of employment and fulfilment where you are doing socially useful work”). It’s not enough just to have an inherently meaningful profession, you are more likely to have higher well-being and performance if you have the mindset of your work as a calling. If you want to learn more about this research check out this talk from Amy.

If you give people freedom, they’ll amaze you

I strongly believe in giving people slightly more trust, freedom and authority than you’re comfortable giving. If you’re not nervous, you haven’t given them enough. Organizations that trust their employees build empowerment and success. Consider the regional supermarket chain Wegmans, which gives its employees full discretion to do the right thing and let no customer leave unhappy. Wegmans even encouraged an employee to start her own in-store bakery. It’s no wonder the company has lasted nearly a century — and has made Fortune’s list of the best places to work for the past 17 years, despite operating in the low-margin grocery business. You can learn more in this interview I did with Jack DePeters of Wegmans.

Educators can also benefit greatly from giving a little more trust to their staff and students. For example school technology director Kevin Brookhouser described how well students rise to the occasion when they are given 20Time (one day a week to work on a project of their choosing). Kevin and the many other teachers employing this technique have seen students become much more passionate and engaged in learning.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can tune in in for my Education on Air keynote tomorrow, May 8, and check out my book Work Rules. I’ll be sharing the lessons most relevant to building successful organizations which I hope give you some ideas whether you lead a system, district, school or classroom. But I’d also like to hear your stories. How has empowering educators or students led to great results in your school, organization or community? Head to Google+ and let us know.