The Tyee has published my article From Offices to Factories, Our Jobs Are Killing Us.
Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance — and What We Can Do About It
Jeffrey Pfeffer, HarperBusiness (2018)
The author of this book teaches management at Stanford and his intended audience is clearly managers. But a copy of this book should be on the desk of every union official and shop steward in North America — open, dog-eared, and highlighted on every page. It should also be on the desk of every doctor, teacher, lawyer and any other professional who’s beginning to feel overworked.
That’s because “dying for a paycheck” is no mere rhetoric. According to Pfeffer, the American workplace is a killing ground where 120,000 workers die prematurely every year — and not because of poor training or accidents. They die because the modern workplace is too toxic for them to survive, and that’s how management designed it.
Canadian workplaces are proportionally worse: Dennis Raphael, a professor of health policy and management at York University, says 40,000 of us die prematurely every year from bad working and living conditions.
Pfeffer bases his arguments on a meta-analysis, a comparison of many research studies, and finds 10 life-threatening hazards built into the workplace:
1. Being unemployed or laid off.
2. Not having health insurance.
3. Working shifts or long hours.
4. Working more than 40 hours in a week.
5. Confronting job insecurity (such as surviving a layoff only to wonder if you’re next).
6. Facing conflicts between family and work.
7. Having low control over how you do your job.
8. Facing high job demands.
9. Low levels of social support in the workplace.
10. Working where decisions affecting your job seem unfair.
Apart from health insurance, these are all familiar issues to Canadian workers, who have fought some grim battles to resolve them. B.C. teachers could probably tick off quite a few grievances off Pfeffer’s list, especially number 10 — which took a Supreme Court decision to remedy after 15 years of working under unfair conditions.