By Andy Bailey
In today’s business world, book clubs are no longer just for your mother and her friends. Many organizations are finding new ways to establish a modern-day book club during normal business hours. With companies like Better Book Club, which help facilitate book discussions and track reimbursements, adopting the initiative is even easier for interested businesses.
Below are three reasons to jump on board and encourage your team members to crack open a book on company time.
1. Personal Development
No matter what industry you’re in, advancements and emerging technologies make personal development a necessity. For small or mid-sized businesses, however, it may not be in the budget to send teams to a conference or host an industry speaker. Creating a book club during office hours is a fast, free way for team members to draw upon the experiences of thought leaders. Not convinced it’s worthwhile? Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest men, estimates that he spends nearly 80 percent of his work day reading so he can learn more out the financial industries he works in. This, he claims, has contributed to his swift yet thoughtful decision making throughout this career.
2. Creativity Boost
Don’t just limit your book club choices to non-fiction. Good books, no matter what genre, can be applicable to work life. In fact, a study done by scholars at the University of Toronto found that participants who read a fictional short story, as opposed to a non-fiction essay, experienced a decrease in their need for cognitive closure, or, their desire to reach a definite answer. Individuals like this tend to be more comfortable in ambiguous situations and more creative overall. For a company with a startup entrepreneurial spirit, this flexibility and open-mindedness is gold.
3. Team Building
A book club allows team members to step away from the computer screen and interact with fellow co-workers outside of the typical work environment. Whether you head to a coffee shop or discuss your findings over happy hour, the event allows team members from various roles and pay grades to share knowledge that may not have otherwise been exposed.
Burton M. Goldfield, president and CEO of HR solutions company TriNet, echoed that sentiment in a 2011 Forbes article. “Each day we interact tactically with our colleagues, but it’s not very often we get to share ideas outside of normal business context. Reading an interesting book helps to spur conversations and allows us to see fellow employees in a different light.”
As the summer winds down, encourage your team to actively take time to read during office hours. The applications and benefits make the book club more than worth the effort.
Andy Bailey is lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm Petra and serves as the global membership director of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). Visit his blog at petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight. @