Workforce Development

Book Talk on “The Good Jobs Strategy” with MIT’s Zeynep Ton

January 21, 2014  • Economic Opportunities Program

About the Book

There’s no denying that service businesses like retail and fast-food chains have been engines of job growth. But, these industries typically offer bad jobs—low wages, scant benefits, and erratic work schedules. And not just low wages, but poverty-level wages. Nearly one in four working adults in America cannot support a family.

Why such bad jobs? Many companies — especially those offering low prices — believe it’s the only way to keep costs low and profits high. Even advocates for higher wages believe they will come at a cost — either higher prices for customers or lower profits for companies.

In MIT Sloan professor Zeynep Ton’s game-changing book, “The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs & Boost Profits,” she proves that it is possible to offer good jobs to workers, low prices and excellent service to customers, and great returns to shareholders all at the same time. What makes good jobs not only possible but very profitable — even in low-cost service businesses — is a set of counterintuitive choices that transforms the company’s investment in workers into high performance. What are these choices? Offer less, combine standardization with empowerment, cross-train, and operate with slack. It’s a combination that lowers operating costs, increases worker productivity, and, as The Good Jobs Strategy shows over and over, puts workers — yes, even cashiers and stockroom workers — at the center of a company’s success.



Zeynep Ton
Author of “The Good Jobs Strategy”
Adjunct Associate Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management

Moderated by

Maureen Conway
Executive Director, Economic Opportunities Program
Director, Workforce Strategies Initiative, The Aspen Institute