Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder: Creating Value by Investing in Your Workforce

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9781422123119: Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder: Creating Value by Investing in Your Workforce

Most managers assume that surviving, especially in recessions, requires slashing wages, benefits, and other workforce expenses. And lowest-skilled workers are often viewed as the most expendable.

In Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder, Jody Heymann overturns these assumptions. Drawing from thousands of interviews with employees from front line to C-suite at companies around the world, Heymann shows how enterprises have profited more by improving working conditions.

She also demonstrates that lower-skilled employees - in call centers, repair services, product assembly - aren't expendable. They can determine 90 percent of companies' profitability. High performers positively shape customers' perceptions of businesses, driving satisfaction and loyalty.

To attract, train, and retain top-caliber people in these roles, you must enhance working conditions, creating a system in which your company and its employees profit together. Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder shows what works - from stock options for bakers to flexibility for factory workers to career tracks in call centers.

Featuring cases from companies around the globe - including a leading concrete manufacturer in India, a top European pharmaceutical firm operating in China, and successful U.S. manufacturers - this book shows how real organizations are excelling financially by strengthening frontline employees' working conditions.

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From the Inside Flap:

For too long, many corporate officers, boards of directors, and Wall Street analysts have taken it as axiomatic that higher compensation and benefits for elite’ workers would make companies more productive and profitable but that providing additional compensation and benefits for those at the other end of the economic ladder would be a waste of money. This book repeatedly turns that argument on its head, providing example after example of creative reengineering of work and benefit relationships, incentives, and job design that have made workers better off and as a direct result raised company profits at the same time. The book is nothing short of inspirational.”

Herman B. Dutch” Leonard, Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration, and Faculty Co-Chair, Social Enterprise Initiative, Harvard Business School

A must-read: Jody Heymann has hammered the last nail into the coffin of the economics of the low road. With her crack research team, Heymann uses a wide array of business case studies to prove that becoming an employer of choice for the traditionally lowest paid can be the best route to high profitability and resilience for the world’s most successful companies.”

Juliet Schor, author of Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth

Here’s a crazy idea for improving our economy: let’s encourage companies to offer incentives, training, flexibility, opportunities for engagement, and profit-sharing to workers in the bottom of the earnings ladder as well as to those at the top. Pie in the sky? This book shows that it is both practical and profitable. The stories Heymann tells of company after company that raised productivity and profits by giving incentives and opportunity to all is a clarion call for moving beyond the Wall Street version of capitalism.”

Richard Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Heymann’s comprehensive look at the provocative issues surrounding the status and stability of lower wage workers is certain to add to the national debate. Documenting how supporting these workers improves business’ bottom line, this book is a remarkable breakthrough!”

Donna Klein, President, Corporate Voices for Working Families

rigorously researched book” - USA Today

presents a well-documented lineup of businesses that have flourished in large part because their management practices include respecting and empowering their lowest-paid worker.” - USA Today

About the Author:

Jody Heymann is Founding Director of the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy. She was Founding Director of the Project on Global Working Families and chair of the Initiative on Work, Family, and Democracy at Harvard University. She has conducted research in thirty-five countries; examined working conditions in 189 nations; and advised leaders in government, UN agencies, and the private sector.

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