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Book Review: The Best Place to Work

TheBestPlaceToWork
by Ron Friedman

The world described in The Best Place to Work, by psychologist and consultant Ron Friedman, is the polar opposite of the world of Frederick Taylor, in which efficiency and productivity was based on economizing the movement of the worker; in today’s world, efficiency and productivity depend on maximizing the thinking of the worker. In the time of Taylor, employees and workers were nothing more than living machines; today, the key to a successful business is meeting the human needs of your people.

And this is why psychology has become a key component to creating the most efficient and productive workplace, Friedman writes. Building on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, covering areas such as motivation, creativity, innovation and management, Friedman lays out the sometimes surprising insights and solutions for motivating employees to achieve their best, enhancing creativity and collaboration, and attracting and retaining the best performers.

Friedman’s “menu of proven ingredients” is extensive and detailed — and although some discussions might be more or less relevant based on the specific organization, it is probable that every organization will find at least some takeaways from each chapter. Beyond the specific workplace and work-experience solutions contained in its chapters, The Best Place to Work provides three overarching lessons:

Psychological needs are at the heart of employee engagement. Employees need to experience autonomy, a sense of competence and “relatedness” — a connection with other employees — on a daily basis.

Organizations are more successful when they address the limits of the mind and body. Humans are not machines. There are a number of limitations, for example, the number of hours we can work at our highest productive level or the decline of problem-solving skills when we’re under stress. The best organizations recognize these limitations and, through innovative measures, give employees an opportunity to overcome them.

Integrating work and family life improves the quality of both. The idea that work and personal time are separate is a myth, according to Friedman. Instead of artificially separating the two, the best organizations find ways to “blend the two worlds.” “The future of great workplaces,” writes Friedman, “lies in helping employees fuse their personal and professional lives in ways that position them to deliver their best work.” The Best Place to Work should become one of the definitive books on creating the motivating and empowering workplace and work experience that are at the heart of any business success. Building on solid and extensive research, Friedman’s overarching themes and specific solutions and insights establish the context for all future efforts to motivate and engage employees and develop inspiring and persuasive leadership skills.

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