If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times. A strong company culture is key to having a workforce that is engaged, productive, and happy. You’ve probably also heard that education is one of our core values, and that we pay our employees to read. A business book club is the intersection of company culture and education, so that’s why we’re writing about it today. Starting a book club within your company is easy, and the result can be as educational as it is fun.
The Benefits of a Business Book Club
All book clubs have their merits – a sense of community and a thoughtful discussion. These can be gained with co-workers, and then some. The benefits of starting a book club at work include:
- Building Community. Creating a sense of community plays a big role in how we retain our people at Omega. If employees feel like they are part of something, they are more likely to be happy at work. Joining a book club offers them a way to connect with each other. Having a discussion and exchanging ideas about something not related to work provides a special opportunity for employees to feel part of something. And when they do so, they’ll be happier and more productive.
- Improving Communication Skills. Many people don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a group of people. A book club offers employees the benefit of practicing speaking and sharing their opinions. Other soft skills that can be developed by participating in a book club at work include deadline management,, discussion, opinion sharing and analysis.
- Gaining Confidence. Book club participants can also gain confidence in their ideas and in themselves. Typical company hierarchies are removed in a book club, so lower-level employees can feel more free to speak openly to their supervisors. This confidence can spill over into other areas of the employee’s work. It can empower them to speak more freely and to trust their own abilities.
How to Start a Book Club at Work
The effort to start a book club can be driven from company leadership or by employees. Before jumping in to the first meeting, you will want to consider some guidelines for running your book club. You’ll first want to get interest from your team and decide if there are rules for the types of books.
Other questions to consider include how often the book club will meet, whether it will be held in person or via video call, and when the discussion will take place. Finding a time that works for everyone’s schedule can be tricky. Many businesses opt to purchase the books added value to the workers as they will get a free read – whenever you set the date.
Picking Good Book Club Books
Understanding the overall goal of your book club will help in guiding the book selection. For example, if employee engagement is the priority, then the book topics can vary more. If the goal is to get your employees to develop new skills, business and personal growth books are available. You can also vary the type of book, so that there is something for everyone.
Here are a few ways to pick a book for the month:
- Consult Omega’s book list. Or you can always contact us for a recommendation not on the list
- Ask your employees for suggestions
- Look at the New York Times Best Sellers list
- Ask your network: posing the question on LinkedIn could start an interesting conversation with your peers, or even your customers.
- Pick a book linked to your company’s core values
How to Lead a Book Club Discussion
As outlined above, leading a discussion is something that builds communication and leadership skills. You can encourage your employees to volunteer in advance to lead the discussion. They can prepare questions, and other employees can send them suggestions for questions, as well.
Typically, whoever is leading the discussion can begin with general thoughts, then dive into their questions. Discussion may open up naturally, but if not some prompts may be useful. It is important to remember that book clubs are for all and it doesn’t need to be a formal experience. Open-ended questions such as, “what was your favorite part?” and “what did you learn from this book?” can generate the best discussion.
If you’re thinking about starting a book club, we encourage you to go for it. The most important thing is to give your staff a chance to connect with each other. We hope you enjoy the experience.