Why Start a Book Club at Work?

Have you ever wanted to read more? Perhaps you have a million books on your nightstand that you’ve never opened? Reading can reveal a world of knowledge and exploration, but many of us don’t have the time to fit it into our daily lives. Starting a book club at work is an excellent way to stick to your reading goals while strengthening your skills and the bond with the members of your business.

BlogWhy Start a Book Club at Work?

Have you ever wanted to read more? Perhaps you have a million books on your nightstand that you’ve never opened? Reading can reveal a world of knowledge and exploration, but many of us don’t have the time to fit it into our daily lives. Starting a book club at work is an excellent way to stick to your reading goals while strengthening your skills and the bond with the members of your business.

You may be wondering how many book clubs are in the US, and if are they still popular. Book clubs in the US today have an estimated 5 million active members. There is no doubt, that especially after the pandemic, book clubs are on the rise, and they are here to stay!

It’s no wonder many organizations are starting their book clubs – they can greatly benefit both employees and employers. In this blog post, we’ll explain why any organization should start its book club, provide tips on how to get started, and highlight mistakes you should definitely avoid for your club to be successful.

Top 10+1 Benefits of a Book Club at Work

The benefits that you can get as an individual, and that can be transmitted to your organization as a whole are immense, and they may surprise you! Sit back as we guide you through 10+1 solid reasons why you should start a book club at work as soon as possible.

1. Improves Communication

Having a book club at work can help to improve communication between team members and colleagues. When reading a book with your colleagues, you get to know one another better and can learn how to relate to each other in a more meaningful way. 

Talking about a book also allows for more meaningful conversations that would not typically come up in regular workplace conversations. These conversations can lead to greater understanding and trust between colleagues, ultimately improving communication throughout the whole organization.

TIP: Make a template so people don’t get stuck on what to discuss. For example, initiate the conversation with props like this: “highlight a sentence that made you laugh/ cry/ be inspired, etc.” The answers will definitely build the foundation for a constructive and fun discussion!

2. Helps Develop Soft Skills

Organizing and participating in a book club at work offers the perfect opportunity to develop a variety of soft skills. These skills can be used in any aspect of professional life, such as leadership, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration. 

Reading books with different people allows you to identify different perspectives, consider alternative solutions, and become more open-minded when it comes to making decisions.

Book clubs also create an environment where individuals can practice their listening skills, as well as respectfully express their thoughts. This provides a great way for employees to practice active listening and provide constructive feedback, which are both essential components of effective communication. 

TIP: Try to encourage everyone to speak at least once– one person should not monopolize the conversation. The environment should feel like an open discussion with a person monitoring it– not a presentation with an audience.

3. Encourages Creativity

Having a book club at work is a great way to encourage creativity in the workplace. Reading and discussing books helps foster creative thinking and allows employees to share their ideas in a safe and supportive environment. 

Through book discussions, members can explore different perspectives, think outside the box, and draw inspiration from each other. Therefore, employees are encouraged to be more creative in their problem-solving and decision-making skills, which can lead to more innovative solutions and better outcomes for the organization as a whole. 

Book clubs can also serve as a platform to discuss and brainstorm new initiatives or projects, allowing members to come up with fresh ideas and collaborate on them together.

TIP: Try to spark creativity in each session. If the book represents a specific culture, why not combine it with a snack session inspired by the region? Such creative touches will help keep the interest alive.

4. Breaks Down Barriers and Cliques 

In the workplace, it can be easy to fall into an “us vs. them” mentality, where there’s a divide between the different teams or departments. By introducing a book club, you can help break down those barriers and foster collaboration across the teams. 

Through engaging discussions, participants can come together to share their perspectives and gain a better understanding of one another. This type of conversation allows members to build a greater connection with their colleagues, leading to improved communication and cooperation. 

TIP: Encourage people to discuss with colleagues who are not in their closest group of friends at work.  

5. Serves as a Multipurpose Business Resource Group

A business resource group (BRG) is a company-sponsored organization made up of employees who have something in common, such as gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability. BRGs are frequently formed within organizations to provide support and resources to members of underrepresented groups and to foster a diverse and inclusive culture. 

Incorporating the goal of not just facilitating a club that reads books for enjoyment and self-development– but a safe, all-inclusive space, will take your book club in a different dimension. 

TIP: You could organize a period in which you only read books from underrepresented authors, and people in your organization from marginalized groups take the wheel to lead the discussion. 

6. Provides Opportunities for Mentorship

Mentorship is an invaluable resource that can greatly impact any organization. A book club creates a safe space for open dialogue and exchange of ideas, enabling more experienced employees to pass on their knowledge and help newer employees learn and develop in their roles.

Book clubs can also create stronger relationships between different generations within the company. By discussing books together, employees of all ages can better understand each other's perspectives and bridge generational gaps. This type of mentorship can prove invaluable in helping younger employees learn from more experienced colleagues and grow professionally.

Not only does a book club provide an opportunity for mentorship within an organization, but it also helps members network and build relationships with those outside the organization. 

By inviting industry experts or authors to join the book club, participants can gain valuable insight into their field or specific topics that are discussed. This allows for both professional development opportunities and networking opportunities within the community.

TIP: Spice up the session by inviting an established or aspiring author.  

7. Increases Knowledge

Reading is one of the best ways to expand knowledge, and a book club provides the perfect opportunity for individuals to explore new ideas and perspectives. Through open discussion, team members can learn about various topics and gain insight into different ways of thinking. 

Reading can also help to enhance problem-solving skills and sharpen critical thinking. For those in more technical roles, books can provide insight into topics like coding, digital marketing, software engineering, and more. 

Overall, participating in a book club helps keep employees informed and educated on various topics, allowing them to better serve their teams and the organization.

TIP: If the organization is big and the interested members have different interests, divide them and let them dig deep into their specialty.

8. Promotes Team Building

Book clubs can be a great way to build team cohesion. When a team of people shares a common interest, they can use that interest to form relationships and develop camaraderie. When employees share a common passion for reading, they are more likely to connect and find new ways to collaborate.

Book clubs provide an opportunity for employees to interact with people from different departments or job roles. This can help break down silos and foster an environment of unity. By regularly discussing the books together, team members get to know each other better and gain insights into how their colleagues think.

TIP: Create a cozy and informal setting for employees to mingle and socialize. The space should not communicate a strict and formal atmosphere. Aim to transmit a relaxing and inspiring feeling!  

9. Encourages Professional Development

Organizations that host a book club for their staff can promote professional development for their employees. Reading, discussing, and debating books will help employees to better comprehend notions and develop skills vital for career growth. 

Reading books from different genres can help employees expand their knowledge base and get a fresh perspective on topics related to their profession. Employees can also benefit from discussions with others on the meaning and implications of different books. By engaging in these conversations, they can learn more about themselves, as well as develop strategies to handle challenges in the workplace. 

Books that focus on professional development topics such as leadership, management, marketing, and communication can help employees become more efficient and effective in their jobs. These benefits make it clear why organizations should consider starting their book clubs to promote professional development.

TIP: Self-help and management books are valuable, but people should not feel the book club is like homework time! Variety in choices is a crucial element for this attempt to work.  

10. Improves Morale

One of the most important benefits of starting a book club in any organization is the improved morale it brings. Reading books together and discussing them encourages people to come out of their comfort zones and participate in stimulating conversations. This cultivates an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect among coworkers. 

Setting aside time for employees to read, think and reflect can help them relax and recharge during work hours, resulting in higher levels of productivity. 

Finally, when employees feel like their contributions are valued and appreciated, their overall job satisfaction and commitment to their workplace are likely to increase.

TIP: The book club should not occupy the employees’ free time. Find a way to incorporate it into your work schedule so it does not feel like an extra time commitment.  

11. Improves Decision-Making

Starting a book club at work can help to improve decision-making skills amongst your staff. Reading books can provide employees with the insight and perspective needed to make informed decisions, allowing them to take an analytical approach to problem-solving. By understanding the different perspectives and analyzing the facts, they can arrive at the best possible solution. 

Additionally, reading books helps employees understand how different people think and act, which allows them to make decisions that consider everyone’s feelings and interests. It also allows them to understand other points of view, so they can make decisions that are fair and just. 

TIP: Eliminate hierarchy. People should feel that their voice is equal in order to start taking leadership initiative.  

Book Club 101: 7 Actionable Steps to Start Your Book Club at Work Today

Below, we will present four easy steps to help you form a successful book club at work. With proper guidance, you can soon lead a group of coworkers in meaningful conversations about books!

1. Pick a Genre

Choosing a genre for your book club is one of the most essential steps in getting it off the ground. Not only does it give members something to look forward to when selecting books, but it can also shape the conversations you have and help keep everyone interested.

When it comes to picking a genre, it can be hard to choose where to start. You could opt for popular genres like fantasy, science fiction, or mystery, but don’t be afraid to get creative. 

Discuss with your group and ask everyone to share their favorite genres or books they think would make great choices for the club. Make sure to include a variety of interests so that there’s something for everyone.

For those looking for some inspiration, consider classic literature, biographies, historical fiction, horror, adventure stories, or even non-fiction works. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you could even choose a new theme each month.

Whichever genre you decide on, make sure to come up with some rules for choosing books that everyone can agree on. This will help ensure that the group sticks together and keeps the discussion lively and engaging.

2. Set Some Guidelines

Creating a set of rules for your book club will help ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to what the group’s purpose is, how discussions should be conducted, and how frequently meetings should take place. Here are some ideas for guidelines you may want to consider:

• How often should a book club meet? There is no exact answer to that. Decide how often you will meet (monthly, bi-weekly, etc.) and how long your meetings should be, based on the majority’s feedback. 

• Determine whether or not discussion topics should be limited to the book itself or if conversations can expand to related topics.

• Agree on a set of “ground rules” to follow during discussions, such as no interrupting or raising voices.

• Set a deadline for members to read each book before the group meets.

• Determine how decisions about which books to read should be made (by majority vote, consensus, etc.).

• Establish a commitment process. Should members be required to commit to all books in the series, or can they just pick and choose?

By setting clear guidelines and expectations at the outset, your book club will be able to get off to a great start and ensure that everyone is on the same page. This will help keep members motivated and invested in their participation so that you can have enjoyable and meaningful discussions every time you meet.

3. Choose the First Book

The most exciting step in starting a book club at work is picking the first book! Depending on the genre you chose, you can look to the bestseller lists or turn to your colleagues for recommendations. Consider the types of books that will help spark great conversations and debates.

If you have a diverse group, then pick a book that celebrates different cultures and worldviews. When it comes to length, try to pick a book that’s not too long or too short—it’s critical to find a balance.

Don’t forget that you don’t have to restrict yourself to only reading novels! Non-fiction books, memoirs, and biographies are also great options. Make sure to check online reviews and ratings to get a better sense of which books may be suitable for your group.

Finally, once you’ve chosen a book, send out an email or post about it so everyone knows which title you’ve selected for your book club’s first meeting. Enjoy this process, as it marks the start of a remarkable journey!

4. Use Your Workplace Channels

Share your book club on the company intranet or other communication channels like Slack. Posting the details of your book club in the appropriate media will give you maximum visibility and draw more attention from potential members.

5. Utilize Word of Mouth

Let people know what you’re up to and encourage your colleagues to join in. Talk about the book club in meetings, around the coffee machine, or during lunch. You never know who might be interested in joining if they just knew it existed.

6. Create a Group Page

Use social media or create a page on your company's preferred means of communication to keep members informed and up-to-date with book club news. This can be used to communicate meeting times and dates, create voting systems to decide the next read, promote upcoming books, and even host virtual discussions after each meeting.

7. Promote Your Book Club

Promoting your book club is an important part of ensuring its success. Utilizing these tips, you can easily get the word out about your new club and bring together an enthusiastic group of people!

A book club can also be a great way for people to connect and grow as leaders. So, why not start your book club at work? It has the potential to be a rewarding and enriching experience for everyone involved.

2 Catastrophic Book Club Mistakes You Can Make 

Apart from the tips already mentioned, if you want your book club to be successful, it’s important to avoid some additional common mistakes. Read on for our top tips on what not to do if you want your book club to thrive.

1. Not Asking for Feedback

If you don’t ask for feedback, you won’t get it! When starting a book club at work, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone can contribute and express their opinion. After all, the goal of the book club should be to foster discussion and collaboration among team members.

One way to make sure that everyone has a chance to participate is to ask people for their feedback on the books they read and the topics discussed during the meetings. This can help create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. Additionally, it’s a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the topics discussed in each meeting.

Picking Only Entrepreneurial or Difficult Books

When you’re starting a book club at work, it can be tempting to pick only books that are related to your field of work or that challenge the readers to think critically. 

However, we cannot stress this enough– this can be a major mistake because these types of books may not be suitable for all members. It is important to take into consideration the interests and reading levels of your members when selecting a book.

2. Not Being Inclusive

Creating an inclusive book club is essential– if you want to ensure it is successful. Inclusivity means making sure that everyone in the workplace feels welcome and included regardless of gender, race, religion, or any other differences they may have.

One way to create an inclusive book club is to make a diverse selection of books available. Look for books that are written by different authors from different backgrounds. 

Additionally, be sure to avoid any books that contain language or references that might be offensive to certain groups of people. Be sure to avoid any language barriers among members of the group. Try to pick books that are accessible to everyone so everyone can participate in discussions and offer their opinions.

Conclusion

Ultimately, how a book club is formed is up to you. The most important thing is to get your coworkers to read and discuss the book. These discussions have the potential to bring diverse teams together, foster communication, and encourage critical analysis. Best of all, your coworkers might even come away from the discussion with a little more appreciation for each other, and their jobs. And that's always a good thing!