September 2019
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TD Magazine

Word Wiz: Zero Drag

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

This term is most commonly used in physics to describe frictionless movement, but it has also snuck its way into the employment sphere. Within this context, zero drag is a discriminatory hiring practice that favors candidates with no spouse or kids over candidates with families, due to their ability to take on extra assignments, respond to emergency calls, or relocate when the need arises. The term is widely associated with Silicon Valley start-ups and dot-com employers, which inherently encourage a zero-drag lifestyle.

In fact, the belief that zero drag is a positive characteristic for employees isn't entirely true. A Center for Creative Leadership study found that the performance of parents, spouses, and committed partners was generally rated higher by their supervisors and peers compared with other workers within the organization.


The study, covering 346 managers, shows that being a committed parent can improve a manager's performance. Parenting requires many skills—compromising, conflict resolution, negotiating, and multitasking—and those abilities are necessary at work. Imagine that: Adult workers can learn something from their kids.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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