By Todd Ballowe
Why Work Sucks & How to Fix it: Measuring Performance

Recently I saw two different websites (Tim Ferris and Verasage) both extolling the virtues of the new book, “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it,” and after reading the first chapter, I think everyone in business needs to check this out.

The short and sweet premise is that the workforce around the nation, especially the knowledge worker segment, is changing it’s expectations and many workplaces that embrace the change can see a dramatic increase of productivity and employee loyalty. If you care at all about employee engagement, this book seems to be a must-read.

Now, I haven’t had a chance to read the whole book yet (free copy *cough* *cough* I’d love to review it *cough* *cough*), but the first chapter is free to download at the authors’ website,

How do the authors claim the workplace is changing? Smart employers are realizing that employees aren’t satisfied with traditional ideas about work/life balance and traditions that they believe add little value- like the traditional 8-5 workday. To adjust to these changes and measure performance accordingly, the authors developed ROWE: the Results-Oriented Workplace Environment, which most-notably has been instituted at Best Buy, where the authors developed the program.

A fantastic example of the thoughts in the book are expressed in an interview at Ferris’s site, concerning a subject the authors call “Sludge.”

Sludge is when someone says, “10:00 a.m. and you’re just getting in? I wish I could come in late every day.” The belief being expressed here is that work happens between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The person who isn’t in the building at 8:00 a.m. is therefore not working.

Of course, to a certain extent, we’re all knowledge workers now. The person could have been at home coming up with the next great idea. Yet they’re being slammed based not on what they produced, but where their body was at 8:05 a.m. It’s ridiculous.

Throughout what I’ve seen about ROWE, there’s a common call to give up tracking people’s time and forcing them into a traditional schedule filled with meetings and micro-management, and instead letting them know what results are needed and giving them the freedom to accomplish their tasks.

I can’t wait to grab a copy of this book- ROWE looks like the key to employee engagement that the current workforce is looking for, and what many workers will soon be demanding from their employers. Would your workplace be able to pull it off?