An interview with Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford University, author of Dying for a Paycheck
Companies claim that their human capital is their most valuable asset. But surely that’s just hot air considering the awful ways that companies often treat their employees. Why is this — and what ought smart firms do?

RONALD REAGAN once quipped that they say hard work never killed anyone—“But I figure why take the chance?” Yet things have changed since “the Gipper” pretended to loaf in the Oval Office. Toxic work environments are as dangerous to health as second-hand smoke, argues Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, in his latest book, “Dying for a Paycheck”.

A giant of business scholarship, Mr Pfeffer teaches one of Stanford’s most popular courses, on office politics and power. His early works looked at organisational design and how it sapped employee productivity rather than enhanced it. His previous book in 2015, “Leadership BS”, examined the gap between what companies say and how they act. He reprises these themes in his latest work, bringing a trove of original data to make his case.