Book Review: “The Best Place To Work”
“The Best Place to Work” by Ron Friedman, PhD
$25.00 / $28.00 Canada
A picture of your family sits right next to the phone on your desk at work.
You looked everywhere to find the print that’s hanging behind your chair, there’s a bunch of new pens in the drawer, and the area rug makes your workspace feel homier. On the days when you bring fresh flowers, it’s a downright pleasant place to be.
A welcoming office: It puts clients at ease but can it keep employees happy? Not entirely, says Ron Friedman, PhD, but it helps and in his new book “The Best Place to Work,” he explains why.
Every so often, on a regular schedule, you get a paycheck. Not long ago, that was the extent of what an employer offered: you got paid, and if you weren’t happy with that, well, you had one option. Then big-tech companies began offering big perks and the realization hit: “Happy employees mean bigger profits.”
But happiness doesn’t require things, says Friedman. Bonuses, trips, company t-shirts can all backfire; instead, offer employees a change in corporate attitude, and let them fail. When employees know they won’t be penalized for messing up, they tend to be more creative and innovative—therefore, happier.
Next, offer autonomy not only on decision-making, but on scheduling and in office surroundings. Studies show that “bullpen office” dÃ©cor is detrimental to employee satisfaction but a cubicle isn’t a panacea; most employees appreciate privacy. Consider allowing staff to work from home sometimes, or offer a “cave and campfire” atmosphere for maximum productivity. Also think about thinking: employees who are encouraged to walk around while pondering, those who are active after work, and those who nap are all better problem-solvers.
Do away with 24/7 mentality. Business won’t end if someone disconnects for a weekend; make sure everyone knows that. Learn how to use rewards wisely, and how not to give recognition. Encourage office friendships, be proactive in eliminating rivalries, and know the difference between beneficial information and nasty gossip. Lead, don’t push; studies show that when control is threatened, people are likely to deliberately act in opposition. Learn to listen, learn about PEARLS, and learn how to challenge your employees just enough. Finally, “empower people to find their best way of working.” It demonstrates trust, which can be a mighty motivator.
Does a lot of this sound familiar?
It did to me, too, but let’s put that aside for now. What’s new in “The Best Place to Work” is worth wading through the same old thing.
In his introduction, Friedman says that there’s a “massive divide” between what science knows and what today’s work looks like. Admitting that there’s no One-Size-Fits-All solution, he uses genuine examples to show how other businesses have successfully implemented workplace change, and he offers well-researched reasoning for why you should, too.
Since his advice is easy to understand, this is a book that can underscore what you already know and teach you some brand-new tricks, too. So find and read “The Best Place to Work,” and then picture your employees’ smiles.