Dying for a Paycheck

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Title: Dying for a Paycheck
Published by: HarperBusiness
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Pages: 272
ISBN13: 978-0062800923


In this timely, provocative book, a Stanford business professor contends that many modern management practices are toxic to employees—hurting engagement, increasing turnover, and destroying their physical and emotional health—and to company performance, as he offers ways to build human sustainability at work.

You don’t have to do a dangerous job—in coal mine or on a construction site, commercial fishing boat, or an oil rig—to endure a health-destroying, possibly life-threatening, workplace. Just ask the manager in a senior finance role whose immense workload, once handled by several employees, required frequent all-nighters—leading to alcohol and drug addiction. Or the dedicated news media producer whose commitment to getting the story resulted in a sixty-pound weight gain thanks to having no down time to eat properly or exercise. Or the marketing professional prescribed antidepressants a week after joining her employer.

These individuals are not exceptions—they are too often the norm. Every industry is filled with similar horror stories, and the costs, to both employees and their companies, is enormous—and worsening. In Dying for a Paycheck, Jeffrey Pfeffer exposes the infuriating truth about modern work life: even as organizations allow management practices that literally sicken and sometimes kill their employees, those policies do not enhance productivity or the bottom line. Instead, they diminish employee engagement, increase turnover, reduce job performance—and drive up health costs.

Exploring a range of important topics, including layoffs, health insurance, work-family conflict, autonomy, and why people remain in toxic environments, Pfeffer offers guidance and practical solutions all of us—employees, employers, and the government—can use to enhance workplace wellbeing. We must wake up to the dangers and costs of today’s workplace, Pfeffer argues. Dying for a Paycheck is a clarion call for a social movement focused on human sustainability. Pfeffer makes clear that the environment we work in is just as important as the one we live in, and with this urgent book, he opens our eyes and shows how we can make our workplaces healthier and better.


“In this urgent and essential book, Pfeffer lays bare the hidden costs of the gig economy, employment instability, and many modern management practices. If you’ve got a job, you must read this book.”
Laszlo Bock, CEO and Co-Founder of Humu & author of Work Rules!

“This is simply the most important business book I have read in a decade. As Pfeffer’s sharp analysis points out, the relationship between people and organizations is flat-out broken. Offering a range of solutions, Dying for a Paycheck will start a revolution.”
Tom Rath, author of STRENGTHSFINDER 2.0.

“This profound book on personal well-being and organizational work environments should change how work is done and literally save lives. Using Pfeffer’s insights, employees can take responsibility for their physical and mental health and leaders can create abundant organizations that win.”
Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

“With precision and insight, Pfeffer lays bare the true cost of toxic workplaces, providing a timely wakeup call for any leader who thought a good workplace was simply a ‘nice to have’. As Pfeffer shows, it is a fundamental right in our fast changing society. Dying for a Paycheck is an essential book from one of our greatest organizational scholars.”
Professor Lynda Gratton, author of the The 100-Year Life – living and working in an age of longevity

“Pfeffer examines the heretofore uncharted relationship between dysfunctional workplace practices and employee health. Dying for a Paycheck is a compelling and important read for all of us seeking to produce a healthy and engaged organization.”
Gary Loveman, former CEO, Caesars Entertainment and president of Consumer and Health Services, Aetna