Are you “dying for a paycheck?”

The workplace is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States! That’s what Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer shares in his new book, Dying for a Paycheck. In it, Pfeffer contends that “many modern management commonalities such as long work hours, work-family conflict, and economic insecurity are toxic to employees—hurting engagement, increasing turnover, and destroying people’s physical and emotional health—and also inimical to company performance.”

Jeffrey, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, started making these connections after hearing me talk about it in one of my speeches.

We at Barry-Wehmiller began looking at the link between leadership and wellness several years ago. A few months ago, I wrote a piece on LinkedIn about it “Wellness and Work: What’s the ROI of Caring?” One of the most affecting things I’ve ever heard about the work and wellness connection was said by a representative of a major health organization who told me that the person you report to at work can be more important to your health than your family doctor. It makes sense. The workplace is one of the biggest causes of stress and there are strong links between stress and health. You can’t just address wellness with exercise programs and then treat people like crap. The way we lead impacts the way people live and that extends to the health and wellbeing of those within our span of care.

Until organizations do a better job of letting their people know they are valued and cared for, we won’t even begin to move the needle on team member wellbeing.

Dying for a Paycheck is eye opening. If you want to hear more from the author, here’s a very good interview.

Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $2+ billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting firm, Barry-Wehmiller’s 11,000 team members are united around a common belief: we can use the power of business to build a better world. Chapman explores that idea in his Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family, available from Penguin Random House.

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1 Comment on "Are you “dying for a paycheck?”"


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Daniel Buhr
30 days 23 hours ago

One thing we can do is to refer to management simply as management and not as leadership. Leadership is different than management and is not exclusive to management. It is unrealistic to place the full responsibility of leadership on managers when there is too much expected of them as it is. Seeing leadership for what it truly is will allow managers to be better leaders. And to open up the responsibilities of leadership to those outside of management gives them more opportunity to find meaning and fulfillment in their work. Working to make a difference is a lot healthier than working to make a living.