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The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits
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The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  396 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Almost one in four American working adults has a job that pays less than a living wage. Conventional wisdom says that’s how the world has to work. Bad jobs with low wages, minimal benefits, little training, and chaotic schedules are the only way companies can keep costs down and prices low. If companies were to offer better jobs, customers would have to pay more or compani ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by New Harvest
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  396 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business-finance
Anyone involved in business should read this, whether MBA student, startup entrepeneur, business owner, bank manager or investor. It's very readable, with clear examples drawn from 4 retailers (Costco, Trader Joe's, QuikTrip and Mercadona) chosen as models for the "good job strategy", revealing how investing in employees may have fewer tangible or measureable benefits in the short-term but makes the long-term prospects incomparably good. ...more
Emily Antonen
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Trader Joe's and Costco are a couple examples of good jobs strategy companies. Read the book and find out how they do it, then support businesses who use this strategy, and avoid others until they comply. Here's a blueprint for a better tomorrow, which is threatening to come too late for many of us unless we all smarten up.
This strategy is the antithesis of the current standard of corporate policy, which has weakened our middle class - a level of society crucial to a stabilized government. It is
Paco Nathan
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: workplace
Costco, Trader Joe's, Mercadona, etc., are all examples of companies that pay better than their competition, provide better customer experiences, and have demonstrated their resilience by being profitable over time -- even through recessions. OTOH, companies like WalMart are cited as "exemplary" for being just the opposite. Considering the factors of operational discipline, cross-training, customer and employee focus over short-term financial games, Zeynep Ton deconstructs the fallacy of the con ...more
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was happy to learn that there is a way to pay retail workers a healthy, living wage AND have successful companies. In fact, as Ms. Ton points out in the book, many successful companies make taking care of their employees the cornerstone of their business strategy. Some of the companies profiled in this book are Costco, QuickTrip, Trader Joes, and Mercadona (Spanish supermarket), as well as other companies that have applied this strategy a less consistently (think original Home Depot). Taking c ...more
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, business
Focused on retail, “The Good Jobs Strategy” describes organizational strategies that lead to pleased customers. To get there, create “good jobs” instead of bad jobs. Companies providing good jobs tend to pay more, have less variety in the parts of the jobs that are drudgery, and include a lot of training. Key were limiting the number of different items to eliminate stockouts and to make managing a store easier. Another key was cross-training, so when the customers aren’t there, retailers can wor ...more
C. Patrick G. Erker
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid, if dry, book, by an author who I'd have loved to have had as a professor in business school.

Ton suggests a way for companies to better serve customers, employees, and investors through what she calls the "good jobs strategy," which combines better employee engagement and development with improved operations. She is convinced that companies can treat their people well without compromising economic returns for investors, but only if companies execute on an operational level.

How to do that?
Carter Hemphill
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I got this book on special through as an ebook. The audiobook was quite inexpensive as well. The author gets a little too redundant and the book could have used an editor. Nevertheless, the author makes a very compelling argument that if companies focus on investing in their employees (through cross-job training and high pay) while also limiting choice, sales promotions and stock-outs, then the companies will be leaders in the cutthroat retail market. I found it interesting to learn a ...more
Carissa Brown
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The Good Jobs Strategy seems like a great strategy. Invest in employees, care about quality, and stay competitive with your prices. Many companies claim to follow the strategy and yet when you get into the upper management you realize that it is a dream or a story they tell but not an actuality. All the companies mentioned in this book that follow the strategy, I have personally heard good things about. Quik Trip which is mentioned multiple times in the book is a great place to work and they rea ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is backed up with great research and interviews with people affected by both the "Good jobs strategy" and the "Bad jobs strategy." It has a compelling point and is well laid out. My only complaint is how repetitive the book is. It literally could be cut down to half the length and everyone would still get the point. You could easily get a cliff-notes version of this book and still get everything from it. It is well written, but just get monotonous after a bit.
Kwang Wei Long
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book challenges the conventional thinking of cost cutting and maximizing your resources head on especially with how the business climate has changed over the years to it's present state and business management books advocating cost cutting and squeezing your employees dry.

Zeynep has shone light on a different way of doing business and still be able to succeed.
Definitely worth a read into the unconventional way of doing things.
Jason Girouard
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly well researched and understood! Zeynep Ton analyzes QuikTrip, Mercadona, Trader Joe's, and Costco to explain the "Virtuous Cycle of Retailing" and how seeing people as an engine of sales, service, profit, and growth can lead to reinforced success for employees and companies. These lessons can be applied to retailers but also expanded to any company dealing with customers - which as far as I know is most.
Tony Segreto
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great overview of why good jobs for employees help company performance. Great examples and good points on how engaged employees that have autonomy and clarity in their roles increase operational performance.
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Ton talks about business strategies made backed up with concrete examples from Trader Joe's to SouthWest Airlines. Business strategies seem intuitive and hard to implement as companies are operating in tight environments.
Cruz Boon Gee Wai
Great and detail analysis

After second chapter, it make me want to complete the book because of the model companies as the example. As a manager and team lead, will definitely wanted to apply whichever option that can help.
Laura Carpenter
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Should be a must-read for every business school student. The book has common sense recommendations that - if implemented effectively - can significantly improve quality of life for scores of people. Profits and good jobs are not mutually exclusive.
Jadrian Wooten
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Started real strong and then got repetitive.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

Key lessons that we can apply in our lives as well
(1) simplify
(2) standardize
(3) operate with slack
Worth reading
Michael J Murphy
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent book describing how to attract, retain, and leverage company talent in the service industry. A must read for any executive.
Stephen Kreeger
Very helpful

But the salient points could have been elucidated equally well in a journal (e.g. HBR) article. About 40% longer than needed to be
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In this slim, surprisingly readable book, MIT business professor Zeynep Ton delivers an exciting, counter-intuitive message: miserable, low-wage jobs do not help business profitability or deliver low prices to consumers. Instead, good jobs can go hand in hand with profits, low prices, and customer satisfaction.

Ton's area of expertise is the decidedly unsexy field of operations management, the discipline that studies how businesses turn raw inputs (like supplies and labor) into sales. In the cour
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A professor shares her insights from years of research that demonstrates how companies (particularly retail) can implement four operational decisions that not only improve the quality of work and life for employees but also increase profits and long-term success for the company.
The four operational choices are
1. Offer less (products)
2. Standardize and empower
3. Cross-train
4. Operate with slack
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the latest pop trade book that is grabbing attention in the business press. Written by a young MIT professor, it presents a "good jobs strategy" the focuses on designing jobs so that employees are paid well, treated well, and trained/oriented to find value in their jobs. This is in opposition to a "bad jobs strategy" that makes money for the firm by cutting the employee labor bill and deskilling jobs so that workers are poorly paid, poorly treated, and often not even full time. This soun ...more
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Ton lays out a convincing argument for a change in the way the business community looks at its lowest level employees. Ton examines the current prevailing wisdom, that labor in retail is a cost which must be ruthlessly controlled in order for a company to remain competitive. Spending little time on the moral consequences of this approach, the book instead argues that companies actually hurt themselves by adopting this strategy; that companies which cave to pressure from their stockholders to cut ...more
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, arc
The gist of this book is innovative, but pretty simple. Ton argues that good, successful companies do two things. First, they invest in their employees, and, second, they make the following four specific operational choices: they offer fewer products, promotions, hours, etc.; they standardize common tasks (like unloading a box of product onto a shelf) but also empower employees to make decisions; they cross-train (meaning employees do many different jobs depending on customer needs in the moment ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, economy
I absolutely loved this book and think it lays out the most sustainable, ethical, and best way to run a business. Zeynep Ton's 4 pronged approach of standardization & empowerment, offering less, cross training, and operating with slack are a great framework to understand how the companies she highlights have been so successful.

Ton also does a great job of giving examples of what this is a coherent strategy and not a few isolated ideas. Examples like the failure of Walmart's attempt at offeri
Carolyn Stokman
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great and informative read. Everyone should read this book
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting read. Having worked retail, I was well familiar with the so-called vicious cycle that goes on in most retail establishments. The good jobs strategy outlined would have been far preferable but I must say that I do not think it could have been executed in the store I worked in, at least not with the staff we had. The managers weren't smart enough to execute this sort of thing, and most of the employees would not have been capable or willing to utilize the empowerment su ...more
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf
This is actually about operations and operational excellence and how connecting this to happy employees contributes to companies' success.

Very focused on specific retail (good and bad) examples in US and Europe. Surprised that she was allowed to publish such detail of operations and financial results - specially for those with a bad reputation, but I suppose they are likely publicly owned. Still she clearly sided with certain companies over others.

Sometimes annoyingly repetitive, making it feel
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-loan
Well-researched book, which explores what makes for a good job as opposed to a bad one. The focus is mainly on retail and service industries. Anyone who has worked in either industry can tell you they are in need of reform. Yet surprisingly few companies are willing to make the necessary changes to improve the situation. There is a lot of sound data in the book, and a variety of case studies, still it remains a very readable book for the layman. The author clearly defines the best practices of c ...more
Ryan Krook
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I tend to like interesting business ideas that challenge the status quo and The Good Jobs Strategy fits that description. It presents a well structured model with empirical examples (perhaps too many examples) to show the idea actually works.
Like most business books, this book is too long. It comes to a nice end after presenting the for pillars of the food jobs strategy but just keeps going. It detracts from the book and leaves the reader (at least me) feeling like the author
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ZEYNEP TON has been a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management since 2011. Previously she was on the faculty of the Harvard Business School, where she was given an award for excellence in teaching in 2010.
“There are three key assets in retail: real estate, inventory, and people.” 0 likes
“Despite all the investment in the scripts and technologies, the most important driver of customer satisfaction in a call center still seems to be the individual who takes the call and makes you feel like someone wants to help you, not just deal with you.” 0 likes
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