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Dying for a Paycheck: Why the American Way of Business Is Injurious to People and Companies

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30 review for Dying for a Paycheck: Why the American Way of Business Is Injurious to People and Companies

  1. 5 out of 5

    Luke

    Really good thoughts and research but a dry and dense read. Too many numbers data hidden in paragraphs. I think I would have liked it more if it was bulleted out and written like more of a business white paper instead of a thesis. But interesting none the less.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    You will have to take this rating with a grain of salt. I am not really sure exactly how to rate this book but hopefully I can describe why. The information in this book is so, so important and really blew my mind when I started learning of the research into healthy workplaces, job control, and workplace stress during my MSc courses last year. It made everything that ever frustrated me about work neatly fall into place. This book summarized pretty much everything I knew or suspected and a bit mor You will have to take this rating with a grain of salt. I am not really sure exactly how to rate this book but hopefully I can describe why. The information in this book is so, so important and really blew my mind when I started learning of the research into healthy workplaces, job control, and workplace stress during my MSc courses last year. It made everything that ever frustrated me about work neatly fall into place. This book summarized pretty much everything I knew or suspected and a bit more. The information overall is great, but the writing is DRY. Some of the chapters were easier to read than others - the good ones were bearable but the weaker ones were a massive slog to get through, which is really unfortunate, because a book that's hard to read isn't going to be read by the people who need to read it. Surprise surprise, my common complaint about nonfiction - this book wasn't as tightly edited as I'd have liked. It was supposed to be accessible to lay readers but I felt one really needed at least an introductory background in epidemiological study design to truly understand a lot of the studies being described. I didn't like the way the in-text citations were done either - e.g. "a study showed, another study showed". Tell me where it was done and a few more details so I have a better idea of whether the study is legit or just a WebMD survey! It is a little too basic for academic reading and a little too academic for lay people I think, so this isn't going to help get the (very important) message out. Also sometimes the info felt repetitive, as if he didn't remember he'd already talked about something in a previous chapter, or didn't make the link between one chapter and another when he should have. It just wasn't as cohesive as I wanted it to be, and didn't come to a satisfying conclusion. I know this is a super complicated and complex area to delve into, but there could have been a better way to wrap up and tie everything together. Every so often a bit of personality and humour would pop in unexpectedly - I wish there had been more of this because even though the book is on a heavy topic, it could have been written in a way that was more engaging to read. That all said - I probably will buy this book at some point. The information is too good not to have on hand for a human factors nerd like me. I wanted to mark it up and highlight sections and fold down the pages. If you don't mind a bit of a slog, I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered why they feel like they hate their job even though they like the work they do, or if you have a real passion for learning about healthy workplaces. But if you just have a passing interest in this area, sadly I wouldn't recommend it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I finished Dying for a Paycheck a few days ago but I haven't stopped thinking about it. It's one of those books that stays with you, and makes you see things in a different light. Yes, as other reviewers note, it's written academically, with a lot of figures and analysis within the text. But it's so striking how much external stress affects our health, and how much of that stress is inflicted on us for arbitrary reasons. So many things could be done differently, from the way that healthcare is l I finished Dying for a Paycheck a few days ago but I haven't stopped thinking about it. It's one of those books that stays with you, and makes you see things in a different light. Yes, as other reviewers note, it's written academically, with a lot of figures and analysis within the text. But it's so striking how much external stress affects our health, and how much of that stress is inflicted on us for arbitrary reasons. So many things could be done differently, from the way that healthcare is linked to our employment and minimally available to some of us, to unnecessary layoffs and stressful working conditions created by bad leadership. The book also had me thinking about all of the non-work related external stress that's on so many of us lately, and the effect that this must have on our health. The other thing it has me thinking about is how individual managers can make a difference, even when constrained on some of the factors (like long work hours or shift work when necessary, but perhaps compensating for it by giving people greater freedom with how to arrange their workday or being sure to link rewards and punishment more predictably to performace). All in all, it's a useful book, although a few of the examples of "good companies" are overused (Patagonia, Patagonia, Patagonia...) and made me wonder whether the reality fits the rosy picture.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nurete

    A whole book on toxic work environments and why stress in the workplace reduces productivity and causes health-related issues and not a single mention of how the macro-economic system, - i.e. capitalism - rewards employers who create these toxic work environments. His solution: "All that companies need to do... is to understand what I have presented in this book - details about the work environment that cause the most harm - and then work to change them..." Yes, Mr. Pfeffer, companies just need t A whole book on toxic work environments and why stress in the workplace reduces productivity and causes health-related issues and not a single mention of how the macro-economic system, - i.e. capitalism - rewards employers who create these toxic work environments. His solution: "All that companies need to do... is to understand what I have presented in this book - details about the work environment that cause the most harm - and then work to change them..." Yes, Mr. Pfeffer, companies just need to be kinder and gentler in an economic system that rewards cruelty. Sure, let's tinker with the edges rather than face the fact that the entire system needs to (and is going to) topple. Radical centrism at its finest. But one thing that this book does drive home is how traumatic the workplace is for so many people. They are so traumatized they cannot even dream about an alternative. It's a form of collective mind control.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Theodore Kinni

    Most depressing business book ever...and a must read. My review for strategy+business is here: https://www.strategy-business.com/art... Most depressing business book ever...and a must read. My review for strategy+business is here: https://www.strategy-business.com/art...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ian Hamilton

    Dying for a Paycheck is largely dry and redundant. The first half to two-thirds of the book consists of Pfeffer regurgitating quantitative data on job-related fatalities, injuries, lost productivity, etc. He exhaustively cites the same data points over and over again and belabors the obvious. He also repeatedly only references a handful of companies throughout the book, those that are both injurious and those that are more forward thinking in terms of employee support. The one saving grace is th Dying for a Paycheck is largely dry and redundant. The first half to two-thirds of the book consists of Pfeffer regurgitating quantitative data on job-related fatalities, injuries, lost productivity, etc. He exhaustively cites the same data points over and over again and belabors the obvious. He also repeatedly only references a handful of companies throughout the book, those that are both injurious and those that are more forward thinking in terms of employee support. The one saving grace is the penultimate chapter describing the reasons why many people fail to leave toxic workplaces. Otherwise, this one is pretty disappointing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine Heron

    I skimmed this book looking for some hard data to use in my argument for streamlining work hours. There’s an entire section devoted to “long and irregular” work hours harm health.” Quite honestly, the book supports almost every reason I have for streamlining hours of operations in a public library.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vlad

    Strong book. Wasted a bit of time showing all of its work (in a very academic way). I got impatient with it -- I was like, "I get it, layoffs are very unhealthy. Layoffs kill people. Get on with the rest of your point!" on a few occasions. But overall, I think the thoroughness is necessary, because the book is suggesting that we rethink the culture and policies that surround how corporations relate to labor. Also, the examples given in the book were shallow and common; I wish there could have be Strong book. Wasted a bit of time showing all of its work (in a very academic way). I got impatient with it -- I was like, "I get it, layoffs are very unhealthy. Layoffs kill people. Get on with the rest of your point!" on a few occasions. But overall, I think the thoroughness is necessary, because the book is suggesting that we rethink the culture and policies that surround how corporations relate to labor. Also, the examples given in the book were shallow and common; I wish there could have been deeper case studies on companies that do this well and right, and not just the usual suspects.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    This was an interesting although at times a dry read because it is written almost like a scientific paper. At the same time, it is these scientific references that make up a staggering stack of evidence about how work affects health and what companies can do to alleviate its impact. I was very surprised with some information gained from research and feel like I now understand better how to manage work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Good, but slightly depressing book about where businesses will go on their race to the bottom.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    depressing to read the reality.

  12. 4 out of 5

    TEELOCK Mithilesh

    In this book, the author highlights the management practices that are generally accepted but very harmful for the employees, and in turn reduces their output and affects the company as a whole. He speaks on practices managers should adopt instead to create a healthy working environment for everyone.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    Super interesting but soooo many facts and figures and anecdotes that it was hard to process in a casual read sort of way.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chaz

    Interesting premise and well researched... But it's dull and dry reading... Like a textbook. Just not my thing. Interesting premise and well researched... But it's dull and dry reading... Like a textbook. Just not my thing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    M.

    Interesting and timely study.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    When I was working for MGM in the early 2000s, the management treated the employees so poorly. I saw how the toxic environment actually ran a fellow coworker to her death. She received so little sleep and was under so much stress that she got into a car accident that killed her on the way home. This book highlights how certain workplaces are as harmful as secondhand smoke. There is a strong link between the amount of stress and a person's decline in physical and mental health. Businesses must be When I was working for MGM in the early 2000s, the management treated the employees so poorly. I saw how the toxic environment actually ran a fellow coworker to her death. She received so little sleep and was under so much stress that she got into a car accident that killed her on the way home. This book highlights how certain workplaces are as harmful as secondhand smoke. There is a strong link between the amount of stress and a person's decline in physical and mental health. Businesses must be mindful also of how they layoff people. It's not that they shouldn't let people go when it makes sense. They should offer support to those who are let go. With the U.S. workforce becoming 50% freelance, the security and safety net of having health insurance won't be available to many. Solutions include: - Get rid of forced ranking (grading performance reviews) - Provide support to employees having difficulties (and offer to ALL employees) - Create a positive work culture The author discusses why people stay in toxic environments. One of the reasons is because "the toxic becomes the norm". It never is or should be.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nick Dutton

    This book does a great job of discussing economic realities of our current job market. It discusses how the excessive stress of jobs leads to health problems, both physical and mental. How the poor pay that people receive contributes to stress in and out of the workplace. How tying health insurance to jobs hurts the economy by keeping people in jobs they don't care about, reducing productivity. How single payer insurance as well as the concept of finding a way for private industry to internalize This book does a great job of discussing economic realities of our current job market. It discusses how the excessive stress of jobs leads to health problems, both physical and mental. How the poor pay that people receive contributes to stress in and out of the workplace. How tying health insurance to jobs hurts the economy by keeping people in jobs they don't care about, reducing productivity. How single payer insurance as well as the concept of finding a way for private industry to internalize the cost of poor employee treatment could drastically help reduce deaths in the country. If you've ever thought that things need to change or are interested in how we could do things differently to give people their humanity back, this is a book you should read!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Craig Becker

    The book is a traditional book outlining the many problems that exist. He documents how we work too much at the expense of our health. He also highlights that organizations don't do enough to help us improve our well-being. He also shows that when organizations help their employee's improve their well-being, it has a positive effect on that organization. Benefits to the organization come from retention, recruitment, satisfaction quality, customer service, quality of life and also profits. He doe The book is a traditional book outlining the many problems that exist. He documents how we work too much at the expense of our health. He also highlights that organizations don't do enough to help us improve our well-being. He also shows that when organizations help their employee's improve their well-being, it has a positive effect on that organization. Benefits to the organization come from retention, recruitment, satisfaction quality, customer service, quality of life and also profits. He does a good job of tying in existing theory to document why things are not working as they should and suggests companies don't do what is necessary because of what Sutton calls the Knowing-Doing Gap I liked his comparison of the beneficial societal effort we took to eliminate water and air pollutants so we all benefits and suggests the same should be done for the social polluters. . He also explains that not offering health insurance at companies externalizes or causes society to pay those costs rather than the company. This of course is a great justification for a government run health program just as governmental policy helped clean our environment. Like most books, it is long about the problems but short on the solutions. He often explains that organizations that do facilitate more autonomy and physical activity don't have the problems he is citing. To me that means we should be studying and learning from organizations that do it well and incorporate those ideas. He suggests we do 5 things. 1. Measure well-being because what gets measured gets attention. 2. Celebrate and award workplaces that help employees thrive. I strongly agree with highlighting those that are doing well, he however also wants to name and shame and use social pressure to get organizations to do what they should. 3. Share the costs of externalizes ill health - again this suggests national health care like all industrialized nations. 4. Recognize the false tradeoff between employee health and productivity. I agree, however he does not explain how we can effectively show the benefits outweigh the costs. 5. Insist leaders and public policy prioritize humans sustainability. Again, he is not clear on how to make this happen. This, however, is a good reminder as we all vote now, especially during a pandemic. Overall it was a good book and I learned some interesting perspectives. I do wish there was a stronger focus on what worked, why and how we can make those successes more pervasive.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zora

    This book was written by an academic for an academic audience. The author repeatedly stated that workplace makes individuals safe through management practices, lack of variety in health insurance plans, and other benefits that support workplace longevity, productivity, and efficiency. He hammers the point about stress from the workplace as the cause of poor health outcomes. His analysis covers the impact of social relationships (i.e., friends, family, neighbors, etc. ) on stressors from the work This book was written by an academic for an academic audience. The author repeatedly stated that workplace makes individuals safe through management practices, lack of variety in health insurance plans, and other benefits that support workplace longevity, productivity, and efficiency. He hammers the point about stress from the workplace as the cause of poor health outcomes. His analysis covers the impact of social relationships (i.e., friends, family, neighbors, etc. ) on stressors from the work. In an attempt to discuss the impact of workplace on stress on individuals of different racial, ethnic, income, employment, and education backgrounds his research results simply states differences of 10% among these factors. I gave this book two stars because it's written for an academic audience and not the general population. If it was written better it may have gotten more than two stars. A writing style for the general population goes a long way to share his research on workplace stressors impact on health, businesses, and the economy. His writing is very redundant and use of research isn't well interpersed throughout the book, which can be a monotonous read at times. Additionally, as a public health professional most of the background context for health impacts I was familiar with. Be warned that this is written for an academic audience and not for the general audience.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian N

    This book was filled with compelling research for the long term benefits in investing in long term well-being and health for the employees, which evidently also leads to much higher financial rewards. Despite this, many individuals and companies are still driven by short term interests, sacrificing the well-being of others for a pile of cash in this now, instead of a larger pile of cash in the future without any human sacrifices (generally speaking). This of course tells a lot about the underlyi This book was filled with compelling research for the long term benefits in investing in long term well-being and health for the employees, which evidently also leads to much higher financial rewards. Despite this, many individuals and companies are still driven by short term interests, sacrificing the well-being of others for a pile of cash in this now, instead of a larger pile of cash in the future without any human sacrifices (generally speaking). This of course tells a lot about the underlying epidemic created by human constructs, more often than not seeking individual gain, in combination with our limited individual minds the human race is suffering from. The author also draws parallels to a lot of human biases as well: the endowment effect, confirmation bias, loss aversion, cognitive dissonance, etc… the connection to a subtle behavioural psychology is there throughout the book. The author also tackles many core issues head on, which aren’t working for humans in the financial system without directly criticising the system in itself. I however doubt that it would be enough to “only” implement these changes advocated by the author, to actually make a large enough difference to the whole, including most human workers and a sustainable balance with our environment. That said, the book is really good and delivers according to its title! These kind of books and subjects should be mandatory in all Business schools.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Mullady

    This book spends most of its time being extremely honest and somewhat depressing. But it’s also not a ton of new information. At least if you really either work or pay attention to the working world. The book does a good job of focusing on the fact that employee health and organizations unhealthy practices are a global problem and not only related to the US. Some how not surprising that China is a clear country of concern as well. The bright lights used as examples are also sadly a small and con This book spends most of its time being extremely honest and somewhat depressing. But it’s also not a ton of new information. At least if you really either work or pay attention to the working world. The book does a good job of focusing on the fact that employee health and organizations unhealthy practices are a global problem and not only related to the US. Some how not surprising that China is a clear country of concern as well. The bright lights used as examples are also sadly a small and consistent t list of company names that most likely we’ve read about before as well. This speaks to the battle we all face when trying to battle toxic work environments and our own approach to staying healthy. The biggest and obvious issue and the book talks to this but also offers very general fixes is the fact that especially in the US helping to solve this issue requires organizational focus beyond profits, or I should say how employee health (mental and physical) actually is something that could improve a company’s position rather than just an operational number to manage via layoffs and cost cutting. Second is governmental policy which means realizing how harmful employer focused health insurance is as the main source for people and how work hours and basic income impact everything. Sadly not sure I have a ton of faith this will change in the short/medium term.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    An important and valuable book about the huge human and economic cost of working conditions in the U.S., and what can be done to remedy it. The author draws a parallel between environmental pollution and what he calls “social pollution” . The former is subject to myriad controls and regulations, whereas the latter is often ignored, when companies put their employees under great stress and provide little or no health coverage they are creating a costly problem which society as a whole must pay fo An important and valuable book about the huge human and economic cost of working conditions in the U.S., and what can be done to remedy it. The author draws a parallel between environmental pollution and what he calls “social pollution” . The former is subject to myriad controls and regulations, whereas the latter is often ignored, when companies put their employees under great stress and provide little or no health coverage they are creating a costly problem which society as a whole must pay for. The author goes to great lengths to quantify the problem (in the hundreds of billions) and gives mostly general solutions on how to improve it. For me the book was not an easy read and could use some improvement itself. I would start by adding more case studies and moving some of the more arcane details of research studies to the footnotes. Still, Pfeffer is taking on a very important social issue and does a thorough job.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Moriarty

    This book does a great job of interpreting, for the layperson, the statistical causes of stress at work on healthcare costs, as well as laying out the case for why employers offset a lot of healthcare costs back onto their workers—or ultimately the healthcare system itself. It achieves that goal admirably, and in that sense is a success. There are only a few pages of recommendations for individual workers seeking to cut systemic stress at work, however, and it ends on a pretty realistic note (nam This book does a great job of interpreting, for the layperson, the statistical causes of stress at work on healthcare costs, as well as laying out the case for why employers offset a lot of healthcare costs back onto their workers—or ultimately the healthcare system itself. It achieves that goal admirably, and in that sense is a success. There are only a few pages of recommendations for individual workers seeking to cut systemic stress at work, however, and it ends on a pretty realistic note (namely that American corporations will generally value profit over all until it is totally untenable for them to do so), so it made for hard reading. However it gave me a lot to think about in terms of non tangible career goals as I prepare for the next step of my career as a chronically ill person under late stage American capitalism. I hope the high level managers and CEOs of major American companies read this book but I’m not holding my breath.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Rhodes

    There is so much to this book that it’s hard to know what to say about it. If your business is business, or if you do business with business, and if you’re a worker now or ever have been, of if you know or have known someone who is … and if you care … then there’s something here for you. The book is brilliantly conceived, rich with anecdotal examples and scholarly research , and concisely and clearly written from the perspective of someone who is both level-headed and passionately committed to b There is so much to this book that it’s hard to know what to say about it. If your business is business, or if you do business with business, and if you’re a worker now or ever have been, of if you know or have known someone who is … and if you care … then there’s something here for you. The book is brilliantly conceived, rich with anecdotal examples and scholarly research , and concisely and clearly written from the perspective of someone who is both level-headed and passionately committed to basic human wellbeing. Jeffrey Pfeffer is apparently an optimist and a believer in the possibility of making work more human friendly, and he injects his hope in a brighter day even as the book carries out its unrelenting indictment of both the employers who perpetuate unhealthy practices and the employees who put up with them.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Richard Franco

    A good but rather depressing book about the workplace. Much of what was written I was somewhat familiar with, but never read a comprehensive and stark detail of the costs and human toll of life that companies exact on their workers. Working in a high stress job that focuses on metrics to a fault, I can empathize with many of the descriptions in this book. I would recommend this book to all as I think that the only way these practices will ever change is if they are brought out into the light. Co A good but rather depressing book about the workplace. Much of what was written I was somewhat familiar with, but never read a comprehensive and stark detail of the costs and human toll of life that companies exact on their workers. Working in a high stress job that focuses on metrics to a fault, I can empathize with many of the descriptions in this book. I would recommend this book to all as I think that the only way these practices will ever change is if they are brought out into the light. Companies will not change on their own even if the long-term result will be a healthier workforce and higher profits, since it will not be an overnight realization of these gains. My only complaint with the book was that at times the arguments for change became a bit repetitive, other than that it was a good read, just not a happy one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Spurlock

    I admit that I give a biased review and score for this book, because it sparked inspiration for me. I had mused about a concept I had been calling 'stress pollution,' the idea that stress causes harm similar to environmental pollution, and like it, harms the systems which are 'downstream' of it. Then I listen to this book, and I hear the term 'social pollution,' which is very similar. It opened up an entire world of research for me to do, and sparked the realization that far from being alone in I admit that I give a biased review and score for this book, because it sparked inspiration for me. I had mused about a concept I had been calling 'stress pollution,' the idea that stress causes harm similar to environmental pollution, and like it, harms the systems which are 'downstream' of it. Then I listen to this book, and I hear the term 'social pollution,' which is very similar. It opened up an entire world of research for me to do, and sparked the realization that far from being alone in my thought, it is both well-known and a subject of research. And, too, Jeffrey Pfeffer raises concerns about the workplace and our current employment practices which resonate with me and the research I'm doing. For anyone interested in the issues of the modern workplace, this book is fantastic. For me, it was the light suddenly being flicked on.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt Fitz

    This book was data dense, but purposely so. There is a large body of evidence presented that points to what most people probably know and experience: Our American way of business: human resources management, gig economies, alternative work arrangements, seasonal/part time work creates a lot of economic instability and from there a lot of economic insecurity. And the indirect consequences of economic insecurity is poor health management, poor health choices, and poor health itself. Good read for p This book was data dense, but purposely so. There is a large body of evidence presented that points to what most people probably know and experience: Our American way of business: human resources management, gig economies, alternative work arrangements, seasonal/part time work creates a lot of economic instability and from there a lot of economic insecurity. And the indirect consequences of economic insecurity is poor health management, poor health choices, and poor health itself. Good read for people interested in the human side of businesses they lead or manage. I know I've personally had to work with people and say to them that their job is not worth their physical or mental well-being. We all have. More of us should.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve Granger

    An important and timely book on the growing necessity for us to up our game in confronting the significant impact that work has on health and well-being. Jeffrey Pfeffer is a strong and persuasive writer that is adept at framing issues in such a way as to make them a target of investigation and intervention. Anyone interested in (un)healthy work should give this book a read as it is one of Pfeffer's best to date. An important and timely book on the growing necessity for us to up our game in confronting the significant impact that work has on health and well-being. Jeffrey Pfeffer is a strong and persuasive writer that is adept at framing issues in such a way as to make them a target of investigation and intervention. Anyone interested in (un)healthy work should give this book a read as it is one of Pfeffer's best to date.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Felipe CZ

    Many people can relate to this book. Stress from unemployment, overwork, and bad jobs in general, affect health negatively. From heart attacks to depression, millions of people are affected so much that it is the fifth highest cause of death in the US and millions die in China for the same reason. But it doesn't have to be that way. Giving employees control over their work, as well as more social support and better workplaces, it will allow people to prosper. Many people can relate to this book. Stress from unemployment, overwork, and bad jobs in general, affect health negatively. From heart attacks to depression, millions of people are affected so much that it is the fifth highest cause of death in the US and millions die in China for the same reason. But it doesn't have to be that way. Giving employees control over their work, as well as more social support and better workplaces, it will allow people to prosper.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Daria

    Thoroughly researched look into how modern business and management practices and cultures are literally killing people, and when they aren't killing them, doing a great amount of harm to human health, dignity, and prosperity. It's not all doom and gloom though - Pfeffer offers a number of solutions, including case studies of how these solutions are working in the real world, at successful organisations. Highly recommended. Thoroughly researched look into how modern business and management practices and cultures are literally killing people, and when they aren't killing them, doing a great amount of harm to human health, dignity, and prosperity. It's not all doom and gloom though - Pfeffer offers a number of solutions, including case studies of how these solutions are working in the real world, at successful organisations. Highly recommended.

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