Multimedia: Investing in Good Jobs Gets Good Returns

MIT’s Zeynep Ton shows us what a “good” job looks like, how to create one, and why it is important to all.

2016-06-09 13_42_59-Multimedia_ Investing in Good Jobs Gets Good Returns _ Heron Foundation


Zeynep Ton illustrates a bad job with a slide that reads:

Full-time store help wanted

  • poverty-level wages
  • chaotic schedule
  • no training
  • poorly designed work
  • no meaning or purpose


In a TEDx Talk, Ton, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, draws on her decade of research to identify, anatomize, and create “good” jobs: those that offer above poverty-level wages, stable schedules, trainings, well designed programs and a sense of purpose to their employees.

You can watch the full video here.

Ton’s research challenges the common notion that for companies to lower prices and boost profits, they must cut costs from all sources, including their employees:

In these [low cost retail] companies, offering good jobs is part of a much larger strategy, and I call this the good job strategy, [which] has two component. The first one is investment in people. While most companies see their labor as a cost to be minimized, these companies see their employees as capable human beings, who can draw sales, profit, and growth so they invest in them. They give them high wages, more training, better schedules, and they design the job in a way that make their employees succeed. They offer good jobs.

The second component and it’s really the key component, is a set of very counter-intuitive choices that ensure a very high return on this investment. Choices that make employees more productive, choices that re-leverage a fully committed, capable, and motivated workforce…

Bad jobs contribute to more people living in poverty; bad jobs increase income inequality; bad jobs cost your tax dollars; bad jobs mean disengaged workers; bad jobs hurt communities; bad jobs contribute to a bad economy. And only if you do something about this, bad jobs are not going away…

Economic Policy Institute estimates that by 2020, 30 percent of all workers are supposed to hold a job that paid below poverty-level wages. The good news is that good jobs are possible and highly profitable, even in the low cost retail. We just have to get more companies to offer them.

You can also check out Ton’s quotes in our previous "In Case You Missed It: Money, Money, Must Be Funny," or her book, which elaborates on the four aspects of her “good jobs strategy,” which help to increase profits for corporations, improve prices and services for consumers, and provide jobs that ensure a better, more sustainable economy. 

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