Gary Vaynerchuk wants you to fire the office menace. “Joy doesn’t come from four-hour workweeks. Joy doesn’t come from free doughnuts. Joy comes from firing dickheads,” the multimillionaire and serial entrepreneur said in a video he shared on TikTok this week about avoiding toxic workplaces. The problem is that the same jerks bosses long to get rid of are typically top performers, he claims.
Vaynerchuk, who cofounded Resy and VaynerMedia, said he believes “it’s very possible to have a work environment where people are going very hard but are very happy.” Sometimes creating a good environment at work requires being a bit cutthroat to the supposed meanies, he added: “The way you’ll get to that joy is if everyone’s nice to each other and if you have the ability and conviction to fire the three people in here that are assholes.”
While a spokesperson for Vaynerchuk told Fortune he wasn’t available to clarify his reference to a four-hour workweek, he’s likely referring to the shortened four-day workweek that has recently gained traction as a possibly joyful thing, or at least more joyful than a five-day workweek. (To be fair, lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss did make the four-hour workweek popular with his bestselling book.)
Early research shows that four-day workweeks are just as efficient, better for workers’ well-being, and potentially a solution for older employees preparing for retirement. On the other hand, no one wants to deal with an asshole, as Vaynerchuk points out. Creating a positive and inclusive company culture isn’t just nice, it often increases revenue growth and likely leads to less turnover and greater loyalty (which in turn also increases productivity).
The question still remains: Why can’t workers have it all? There’s no real reason to pit a shortened workweek and office jerks against each other; both can exist side by side or without the other. And research shows, despite Vaynerchuk’s assumptions about high performers, that being a jerk doesn’t really get you ahead.
A 14-year study published in 2020 from the University of California at Berkeley found that workers with a reputation for aggression and selfishness aren’t necessarily more successful at work than the nice guy. While intimidation helped propel them up the career ladder and into positions of power, their poor interpersonal skills detracted from this success, neutralizing their performance.
These negative employees “can do serious damage to an organization,” wrote lead author Cameron Anderson, a professor of organization management at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, in a press release. “Prior research is clear: Agreeable people in power produce better outcomes.”
Naturally, workers also enjoy and likely perform better in a nontoxic environment. A poll of over 1,300 U.S. adults found that a majority of workers have experienced toxic environments, which they blamed leadership and direct managers for. These toxic workplaces were a major source of turnover during the Great Resignation, as the gravity of the pandemic forced Americans to rethink and reinvent their lives and careers. It didn’t help that some executives who had rolled out benefits and perks during the pandemic’s early days stopped emphasizing well-being and a healthy culture in order to push for previous power dynamics.
This is not the first time Vaynerchuk has commented on the continuously evolving workplace—in fact, the serial CEO loves sharing his thoughts on everything to do with 21st-century work culture. Insider’s Jason Lalljee has been documenting his TikTok commentary, which has touched on everything from Gen Z’s seemingly nontraditional workplace preferences to creating the flexible, supportive environment for which workers have been clamoring.
Instead, some companies have focused on redesigning offices filled to the brim with amenities like butlers or offering perks personalized swag bags to get workers back to their desks. While some have tried to address workers’ needs for flexibility with moves like trialing a four-day workweek, the real solution to improving workers’ happiness, in Vaynerchuck’s eyes, is creating a nicer environment.
But although there’s a surprising lack of research done on doughnut correlation to happiness, anecdotal evidence shows that a sweet treat never hurts. Perhaps in an ideal world all three could coexist: doughnuts, nice coworkers, and a shortened workweek.