The most recommended books on the quality of your working life

Who picked these books? Meet our 23 experts.

23 authors created a book list connected to the quality of working life, and here are their favorite quality of working life books.
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Book cover of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Denise Brinkmeyer Author Of Project Orienteering: A Field Guide For Project Leadership

From my list on servant leaders who get things done.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the oldest child, and former teacher turned technology innovator. As the only girl, growing up with three brothers gave me the tenacity to overcome limiting beliefs. Information technology has helped me create an environment where I can help a lot of people. At the end of the day, what I love most is helping someone turn an idea into a tangible solution while motivating team members to see the beauty and joy in this type of service.  

Denise's book list on servant leaders who get things done

Denise Brinkmeyer Why did Denise love this book?

This book inspires me to look at how I spend my time at work. I do many things that could be automated so that I can spend more time doing things that machines are not great at. 

While I do not intend to work only 4 hours a week, I use the inspiration for this book to move from 75-hour weeks to a more practical 40-50 hours that allow me to have time for my non-business roles (wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, etc.). Note that some technologies are outdated, but the concepts are golden.

If you like this book, you might like his Tools of Titans, as well.

By Timothy Ferriss,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The 4-Hour Workweek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new, updated and expanded edition of this New York Times bestseller on how to reconstruct your life so it's not all about work

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan - there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.

This step-by step guide to luxury lifestyle design teaches:

* How Tim went from…


Book cover of Making Work Human: How Human-Centered Companies Are Changing the Future of Work and the World

Bruno R. Cignacco Author Of The Art of Compassionate Business: Main Principles for the Human-Oriented Enterprise

From my list on conscious business.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a consultant, author, and researcher, for several years I have been very passionate about the study of companies that are very successful in the marketplace, but that are also human-oriented. In other words, I am very interested in companies that are profitable, but at the same time, are kind, compassionate, and caring with their main stakeholders. I like that these companies continually aim to foster robust long-term relationships with these stakeholders, and look for win-win agreements with them. What I love about these companies is that they focus on the quantitative aspects of business (e.g., profitability, growth, etc.) but also in its qualitative aspects (empathy, support, gratitude, generosity, etc.).

Bruno's book list on conscious business

Bruno R. Cignacco Why did Bruno love this book?

I personally recommend this book because it clearly pinpoints the importance of some relevant values (e.g., gratitude, purpose, meaning) and their practical application to the work environment. I like the way this text discusses the regular use of these values and their direct relationship with business key parameters (e.g., growth, etc.). I found useful the description of the human workplace shown in the book, which includes traits like trust, meaningful work, empowerment, and others. There are some interesting insights on the importance of employee experience and specific ways to enhance it, among other topics. Finally, it is interesting that this book is littered with valuable statistical data backing its more relevant themes.   

By Eric Mosley, Derek Irvine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Work Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Join the movement to harness the transformative power of people-and lead your company to superior business results!

By building a sense of belonging, purpose, meaning, happiness, and energy in every employee, you'll create a profound connection between your workforce and your organization and its goals. And that's the key to business success.

From the pioneers of the management strategy that has transformed business culture worldwide, Making Work Human takes you step by step through the process of implementing a culture of performance and gratitude in the workplace, seizing the competitive edge and driving business sustainability. Mosley and Irvine use game-changing…


Book cover of The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It

Benjamin C. Waterhouse Author Of Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA

From my list on why corporations are powerful but economy stinks.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of modern U.S. History and have written books explaining the political and cultural power of corporations, lobbyists, and business people in American life. To me, the signal event of recent history was when the rapid economic growth that followed WWII ended in the 1970s. From globalization and deindustrialization to the rise of authoritarianism under the guise of populism, from systemic racism and the rise of the carceral state to the proliferation of bad jobs and the gig economy—the effects of that historic change shape every aspect of modern life. But this topic can sometimes seem a little dry, so I’m always looking for books that help make sense of it.

Benjamin's book list on why corporations are powerful but economy stinks

Benjamin C. Waterhouse Why did Benjamin love this book?

This book—written by a scholar who also works in government—is both infuriating and enlightening. It takes on the real problem of precarious, poorly paid jobs and, by getting way into the weeds of how companies are organized, gives a clear explanation for how so many jobs became so bad and at least some hope for a policy fix. The root of the problem, Weill shows, is basically outsourcing: large companies hire out jobs (cleaners, security, customer service) to low-paying, often badly managed small companies, and that drives down wages, benefits, and job security. The most insane examples of this occur when laborers are pushed into being independent contractors or franchise owners. Officially they are “small business owners” but in practice, they have no control over their work and no opportunities to grow. The book is full of memorable (and enraging) vignettes and examples, making a dry argument about corporate structure…

By David Weil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fissured Workplace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For much of the twentieth century, large companies employing many workers formed the bedrock of the U.S. economy. Today, as David Weil's groundbreaking analysis shows, large corporations have shed their role as direct employers of the people responsible for their products, in favor of outsourcing work to small companies that compete fiercely with one another. The result has been declining wages, eroding benefits, inadequate health and safety conditions, and ever-widening income inequality.

"Authoritative...[The Fissured Workplace] shed[s] important new light on the resurgence of the power of finance and its connection to the debasement of work and income distribution."
-Robert Kuttner,…


Book cover of Bring Your Human to Work: 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World

Bruno R. Cignacco Author Of The Art of Compassionate Business: Main Principles for the Human-Oriented Enterprise

From my list on conscious business.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a consultant, author, and researcher, for several years I have been very passionate about the study of companies that are very successful in the marketplace, but that are also human-oriented. In other words, I am very interested in companies that are profitable, but at the same time, are kind, compassionate, and caring with their main stakeholders. I like that these companies continually aim to foster robust long-term relationships with these stakeholders, and look for win-win agreements with them. What I love about these companies is that they focus on the quantitative aspects of business (e.g., profitability, growth, etc.) but also in its qualitative aspects (empathy, support, gratitude, generosity, etc.).

Bruno's book list on conscious business

Bruno R. Cignacco Why did Bruno love this book?

I really like this book because it provides the reader with very actionable ways to develop a more human-oriented workplace. I found interesting the way this book thoroughly dissects relevant themes related to the work environment, such as: the importance of an authentic voice, employee wellness, the significance of sustainable actions, and the value of giving back, among others. It is very useful that this book includes several examples of companies to illustrate these topics. I found it valuable that each relevant theme discussed in this book is accompanied by a human action plan, with very practical suggestions.  

By Erica Keswin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bring Your Human to Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The secret to business success? Get REAL and be HUMAN!

As human beings, we are built to connect and form relationships. So, it should be no surprise that relationships must also translate into the workplace, where we spend most of our time! Companies that recognize this will retain the most productive, creative, and loyal employees, and invariably seize the competitive edge.

The most successful leaders are those who actively form quality relationships with their employees, who honor fundamental human qualities-authenticity, openness, and basic politeness-and apply them day in and day out. Paying attention and genuinely caring about the effects people…


Book cover of Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction

Brian Unell Author Of Everyday Leadership: You Will Make A Difference

From my list on leadership you can use at home, work, and in life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a recovering Big 5 consultant and healthcare administrator, while others portray me as a transformational healthcare executive who has a passion for cultivating talent and driving change to enable sustainable results. I am a visionary and collaborative team builder and servant leader who views issues/opportunities from all perspectives, turns data into information, the complex into simple, and chaos into focus. I have led transformational consulting projects, a $180M technology implementation, and a team of 1,500 people. I enjoy serving on non-profit boards, mentoring others, and co-leading a team of four at home with my wife, Hilary.  

Brian's book list on leadership you can use at home, work, and in life

Brian Unell Why did Brian love this book?

Before reading Off Balance, I always felt that my one of my biggest weaknesses was that I took too much personal satisfaction from work. 

In Off Balance, Matthew Kelly shares the differences between personal satisfaction and professional satisfaction (a new concept to me). With these concepts, he provides ideas and tools to improve both types of satisfaction so you can be the best version of yourself at home and work.

By Matthew Kelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Off Balance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The prescriptive follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Dream Manager.

One of the major issues in our lives today is work-life balance. Everyone wants it; no one has it. But Matthew Kelly believes that work- life balance was a mistake from the start. Because we don't really want balance. We want satisfaction.

Kelly lays out the system he uses with his clients, his team, and himself to find deep, long-term satisfaction both personally and professionally. He introduces us to the three philosophies of our age that are dragging us down. He shows us how to cultivate the energy…


Book cover of CEO of Me: Creating a Life That Works in the Flexible Job Age

Carol T. Kulik Author Of Human Resources for the Non-HR Manager

From my list on making work a better place to be.

Why am I passionate about this?

The average person spends over 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime – that’s roughly one quarter to one third of a person’s life. I’m an academic researcher who studies work. I know how to design workplaces that are good for organizations (high productivity) and the people who work in them (high employee well-being). But if we leave it all up to senior management, we won’t generate positive changes fast enough. There’s a robust body of evidence that we can all use to make our local workplaces more supportive, inclusive, and fulfilling. I’m on a mission to make the world a better place, one workplace at a time. 

Carol's book list on making work a better place to be

Carol T. Kulik Why did Carol love this book?

We hear so much about flexibility at work, but most of the academic research is directed at senior managers (as in: “managers need to offer employees more flexibility”).

Professors Kossek and Lautsch deliberately flip that thinking. Their book is designed to help any employee become more mindful about how they can achieve better work-life balance – and to identify the changes that they can make to get there (even without their boss’s support).

This book inspired me to think about the very small changes that any of us can make in a workplace; it helped me to recognize that it’s not all up to the boss!

By Ellen Ernst Kossek, Brenda A. Lautsch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked CEO of Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You are the CEO of your life: you, and nobody else. You can establish the new rules that will help you achieve true balance between work and the rest of your life. And if you don't do it, nobody else will. Now is the time to take control, and this is the book that will get you there. CEO of Me is like no other "work-life balance" book you've ever seen: there are no cliches here, and no one-size-fits all solutions. Instead, Drs. Ellen Kossek and Brenda Lautsch help you identify which of six worklife "patterns" you fit into and…


Book cover of Designing Your New Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness--and a New Freedom--at Work

Tessa White Author Of The Unspoken Truths for Career Success: Navigating Pay, Promotions, and Power at Work

From my list on curating a well rounded life.

Why am I passionate about this?

My own rise through the workplace didn’t come without roadblocks. I was a divorced single mom with 3 children and no education. Yet I found myself taking a career journey where I made a lot of the same mistakes so many individuals make. I realized after about 20 years leading human resources for fast-growth companies, that I had a unique view to help others shortcut their own mistakes. I finally left my corporate desk to work the other side of the desk–helping the individual. The Job Doctor was born in late 2020, and one million followers later, I feel like I’ve found my own career calling in helping individuals navigate their own career journeys. 

Tessa's book list on curating a well rounded life

Tessa White Why did Tessa love this book?

I love this book because not only does it give great advice, but it shares numerous practical tools and reframes on how to build a work life that is meaningful and joyful for you!

In addition, the book has stayed very current—includes how to handle life disruptions (such as the pandemic) and how to thrive despite the circumstances. As a career navigation coach myself, I’ve recommended this book hundreds of times to my clients.

It’s practical. It’s easy to read. And I find the exercises extraordinarily useful in setting boundaries at work that help one thrive.

By Bill Burnett, Dave Evans,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Designing Your New Work Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the authors of the #1 New York Times bestseller Designing Your Life comes a revised, fully up-to-date edition of Designing Your New Work Life,a timely, urgently needed book that shows us how to transform our new uncharted work life into a meaningful dream job or company. With practical, useful tools, tips, and design ideas that show us how to navigate disruption (global, regional, or personal) and create new possibilities for our post-COVID work world and beyond.

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans successfully taught graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford University and readers of their best-selling book, Designing Your Life…


Book cover of Advice for Working Dads

Han-Son Lee Author Of You’re Going to Be a Dad!

From my list on modern day fatherhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the founder of DaddiLife—the leading online platform that focusses on modern day dads, who are becoming more equalised in their day to day parenting. We’ve covered a range of different areas from early stage post partum and mental health for dads, through to new research projects on dads at work and young fathers. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over my time as a father myself is that there’s no such thing as perfect parenting, but there are lots of insights that can challenge our fatherly approaches for the better, both at home and at work.

Han-son's book list on modern day fatherhood

Han-Son Lee Why did Han-son love this book?

While there’s been a generational shift for dads at home, so much workplace culture still treats dads as a secondary parent, and our own research with Deloitte show’s just how many tensions with colleagues, line managers, and the whole organisation are still facing dads today. For so many dads, they’re stuck in the middle of wanting of be a great dad and having a great career. This book deals directly with that emerging fatherhood penalty, and carries great advice on how to manage that, no matter where you are in the organisation. It’s packed with tips, insights, and learnings from experts on dads at work, and is my dads at work bible.

By Harvard Business Review, Daisy Dowling, Bruce Feiler , Stewart D. Friedman , Scott Behson

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Advice for Working Dads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You can have a successful career and be the dad you want to be.

Finally, we've moved past the days when providing for your family meant taking a backseat role in your children's lives. Still, many of us aren't finding the support and flexibility we need, and the time-management challenge of performing at work while being a present dad at home can feel impossible.

Advice for Working Dads will help you balance and integrate your career and fatherhood, navigate always-on work cultures, and find success and fulfillment in one of the toughest&#8212and most important&#8212jobs you'll ever take on.

You'll learn…


Book cover of The Culture Solution: A Practical Guide to Building a Dynamic Culture so People Love Coming to Work and Accomplishing Great Things Together

Dan Purvis Author Of 28 Days to Save the World: Crafting Your Culture to Be Ready for Anything

From my list on new entrepreneurs and small business leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I went back to school for my MBA, I was looking for a way to apply the passion I’d found for changing lives for a better world. Studying business started my journey toward founding Velentium, a medtech engineering firm, in 2012. The pandemic was a make-or-break season for every industry, medtech included. We were determined to do our part, but were faced with an unprecedented challenge: boost the world’s emergency ventilator production from hundreds per month to thousands per week—in just 28 days. We succeeded—and it was a spiritually moving experience. I wrote 28 Days to Save the World in hopes of inspiring other organizations to punch above their weight class like we did.

Dan's book list on new entrepreneurs and small business leaders

Dan Purvis Why did Dan love this book?

From the author of The Dream Manager comes a book that will challenge and inspire the core of your organization. Kelly’s bread-and-butter as a business coach and motivational speaker shows in his writing style—be prepared to have the six key lessons reinforced through repetition (great for those of us who read in short bursts with lots of life happening in between). But this book has a strong practical aspect too. Applying its lessons will fill your to-do list for months to come!

By Matthew Kelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Culture Solution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Culture is about creating empowerment, not entitlement . . .

Culture is not about bringing your dog to work, free lunches, unlimited vacation, or even casual Fridays. Culture is not a collection of personal preferences.

Our thinking about culture has been kidnapped and polluted by the spectacular, attention-grabbing fads that 99 percent of organizations cannot implement. It is time to get beyond these "here today, gone tomorrow" illusions that foster entitlement, complacency, and mediocrity, so we can start implementing the timeless principles that are: The Culture Solution.

The six foundational principles of a Dynamic Culture are universal and unchanging. In…


Book cover of The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America

Jocelyn Davis Author Of The Art of Quiet Influence: Timeless Wisdom for Leading Without Authority

From my list on leadership for nerdy introverts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a history-philosophy-literature nerd who at a young age stumbled into a job at a global corporate training firm, where I learned a lot about leadership as I rose over two decades to become head of R&D. Then I was fired for insubordination, which just goes to show that introverts get into trouble, too. Having authored one book under company auspices, I decided to write another one on my own, one that combined my expertise in leadership development with my love for great stories and ideas. Now I’m up to five books, and they’re all the kind that a nerdy introverted troublemaker would want to read. 

Jocelyn's book list on leadership for nerdy introverts

Jocelyn Davis Why did Jocelyn love this book?

I was skeptical when a former boss of mine recommended this book (sounded kind of woo-woo), but I was won over by Whyte’s perceptive, off-beat takes on great epic poems and their application to our quests in today’s corporate world. From Beowulf’s fight with Grendel to Dante’s journey through the Inferno, from Cassandra’s foretelling of the sack of Troy to Fionn’s eating of the Salmon of Knowledge, I was enthralled—and emboldened to explore the dark, creative, messy side of leadership in my own life.

By David Whyte,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Heart Aroused as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“With this insightful book, David Whyte offers people in corporate life an opportunity to reach into the forgotten and ignored creative life (their own and the corporation’s) and literally water their souls with it. The result is a very well written book that can truly heal.”—Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PH.D., author of Women Who Run With the Wolves and The Gift of Story
 
Find professional and personal fulfilment through the poetry of both classic and modern masters—now revised and updated
 
Has your work lost its meaning? Have you forgotten the goals you hoped to achieve when you began your career? Are…