At Books@Work, we believe that transforming workplace cultures begins when we invite all voices to the table.
We use literature to build crucial skills for a rapidly changing workplace. By reading and sharing narrative stories, colleagues challenge assumptions, build high-quality connections and practice critical dialogue – learning more about themselves and others.
Books@Work is not just a book club. Discussions are facilitated by a skilled university professor. Together, colleagues and the professor explore carefully chosen texts that trigger meaningful conversation and break down barriers of difference, building up a workplace culture of trust, respect and community.
In survey after survey, employers state that inter- and intra-personal skills are both the most important and the most deficient skills in their workforce. While most companies have found effective ways to build technical proficiency, they have struggled to develop critical thinking, collaboration and communication. Books@Work targets these areas and makes them cost-effective to address.
Books@Work uses sophisticated literature as an affordable and accessible platform for meaningful dialogue, social engagement and empathy. Books@Work can be a powerful mechanism for an employee team to explore deeper issues together, but it can also be an effective way for employees across teams, hierarchies and functions to get to know each other and to bridge very different responsibilities and perspectives.
What do people say about Books@Work?
“If you speak in this setting and you feel more comfortable giving your opinion, it encourages you to speak up in other settings.”
Participant, Manufacturing Company
Fosters Respect and Creates Space for Diversity
“I really learned from people and it didn’t matter what our titles were.”
“This program opens up your mind to the possibility that there is another way to handle or see things, and that not everybody is the same.”
Participant, Hospitality Company
“When we take the time to exchange ideas and feelings outside the work environment, we build a deeper trust inside the work environment.”
Participant, Manufacturing Company
“It helps you connect with your co-workers on a different level. When you understand someone, you can work with them more easily.”
Participant, Professional Service Firm
“People feel more comfortable with each other, more forgiving on conflicts or different opinions. These guys are more engaged than the rest of my organization – they take more initiative.”
Supervisor, Manufacturing Company
How does the program actually work?
Participants read a book or series of short readings each month, meeting with a faculty member in the workplace. A typical program runs for three months, with weekly one-hour meetings, although we tailor the program to meet group needs.
We work with the faculty to choose the readings, based on their specific discipline and personal passions, offering choices as the program progresses. Texts can be fiction and non-fiction, plays, poems and short stories. Over the course of a program, participants come to know several professors, often representing several academic disciplines, and read several books, often of different genres.
Books@Work is not a book club, but a seminar facilitated by seasoned faculty. The books become windows to deeper reflection, personal insight and collective sharing.
Books@Work programs reinvigorate participants’ love of learning and pursuit of educational goals. After participating in a program with an executive team for many months, one administrative assistant returned to college to take a course. “She felt like she could pursue more. Now she edits my public writing,” the company president told us. He was impressed by her initiative – as well as by the fact that she felt comfortable sharing her learning with him, even if it happened to be in red pen!