Dying For a Paycheck – Never Again!

According to the Mayo Clinic, the person you report to at work is more important for your health than your family doctor.” – Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller and author of Everybody Matters

Dying For a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer is only telling thoughtful employees what we’ve known all along…

Management has the potential to harm employee health and performance throughout the company.

And… as most of us will attest… they do. In some cases, on the daily.

While the book IS current (2018) and speaks of “Modern” Management… my guess is that you could ask your dad, mom, or grandparents about how management fared in the “olden days” of prior decades and come up with many of the same thoughts that are expressed in this book.

If I were to spitball and list a few things that we’ve learned over the last few decades that are discussed in this book, here’s what I’d say:

  • Taking a look from the inside – Workplaces can be toxic (physically, emotionally, and mentally)
  • Offering health insurance helps to create better health for employees
  • Helping to create work-family balance for employees by reducing long hours and mitigating conflict within the workplace makes a healthier workplace
  • Dealing with reality – For example: Exhausted employees make mistakes, have preventable accidents, etc.

That’s off the top of my head.

As I went through the book, a word kept coming up for me: Capitalism.

Oh yes, capitalism was alive and well long before 2018… and although it isn’t mentioned specifically, it is (a kind-of) elephant in the room.

And, I don’t hate capitalism. In fact, I’m all for working hard and making money!

Why did I keep thinking of it? I’m not sure.

No, it’s too easy for me to blame capitalism.

Pfeffer doesn’t blame it either.

If I had to distill his thoughts into one word, I would say: Healthy Relationships.

Yes, it all comes down to this.

And, I agree.

We spend so much time at work that it’s almost like a second family.

We’ve known that for years!

But have we realized that (like our other non-work relationships) we can carry baggage from a toxic job? Even years later? Like PTSD!

Have you ever thought of it that way? I haven’t. And yet, I have memories of moments at jobs that were pivotal. I was going to get a raise or promotion… or was the butt of a joke… or going to be let go.

I clearly remember carrying a crockpot of chili into the bank… in 1981… it was a potluck. I was let go at the end of the day and as I carried that crockpot out… it somehow felt… humiliating. Worse. I’d worked hard preparing food to feed my co-workers. I felt… vulnerable. Ashamed. And, I was pregnant. So, emotional. But I digress.

Health care (and accompanying well-being) is a huge focus throughout this book… as it should be (IMO). It is clear that this is of paramount importance in creating a safe, happy, thriving workplace.

Same with values — and I LOVE that! Values and integrity are SO IMPORTANT!

We should all know what we value and do as much as possible to live within the boundaries of those values. This book asks you to consider yours… as both an employer and an employee.

And yes, of COURSE money is discussed throughout the book. Maybe that’s why capitalism felt so looming?


Be warned, it gets a little dry in places and (I felt) repetitive. It’s a good book… but I wouldn’t say it’s great. However, if it’s your first foray into business / self-help books, it’s a dandy one to start with!

For me, it felt very reassuring to read this because where I’m working now is the epitome of a healthy work environment. I have NEVER worked at a place that treats its employees so well. Many of us never will. And that is SUCH a shame! You simply cannot imagine the difference it makes.

To close, and for your viewing enjoyment… here’s a video I found in my travels while researching today’s post.

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