April 16, 2020

So you’re an employer brand strategist in isolation…

I know how that feels. It’s a weird time right now, and we’re all finding different ways to cope. Whether it’s a health kick, Housepartying with friends, or learning to bake the perfect sourdough, we’re all looking for new ways to fill the time. Me? Reading is what helps me get through the days.

If you’re in the same boat, you might want to hone your craft by reading something that relates to the world of employer brands, value propositions, and employee experiences. 

Lucky for you, the strategy team at Pink Squid are here with a few recommendations.

You might be keen to discover a range of industries, understand the latest management theories, or see what can happen when a company gets their culture right – or very, very wrong. Let’s take you on a tour of our collective bookshelves…


Books about businesses


Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – John Carreyrou

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of health tech company Theranos, was Silicon Valley’s first female tech billionaire. Now, she’s on trial for fraud. Bad Blood looks at where it all went wrong, and how the culture Holmes introduced allowed Theranos to survive for so long.

WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork – podcast 

Sure, this isn’t a book. But this is too good to leave off the list. Featuring the greatest loss of shareholder value since Enron, WeWork is a cautionary tale of what can happen when a business’s mission is to “elevate the world’s consciousness”.

That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix – Marc Randolph

Not all our recommendations end in doom and gloom. The founder of Netflix tells the stories of its early days, which involved storing and posting DVDs from an old bank vault in California.

Books about how people think and work


Nudge: Improving Decisions About Wealth, Health and Happiness – Richard Thaler

This book by Nobel-prize winning behavioural economist Richard Thaler, is the starting point for choice architecture. Its potential applications span from increasing enrolment in employee engagement schemes, to onboarding process improvements, and much much more.

Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World – David Epstein

Epstein argues that the 10,000 hour rule for early specialisation is wrong. Subject matter experts are worse at predictions than those with wide experience across disciplines. In a world made of wicked problems, where information is incomplete or outcomes are hard measure, conceptual reasoning that draws upon multiple fields is becoming more and more important. 

Books about making your work better


Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World Class Employee Engagement – Glenn Elliott and Debra Corey

Build It is full of case studies – fixes to employee engagement, like job design, benefits, wellbeing, workspace and recognition, that have been tried and tested around the world. You can steal with pride, or use it as the starting point for developing your own ideas.

The Joy of Work: 30 Ways to Fix Your Work Culture and Fall in Love with Your Job Again – Bruce Daisley

Based on interviews from his podcast series, Bruce wants people to get more done and actually enjoy what they do. Sounds very similar to what you do, right?

Any work of fiction


That’s a pretty broad category, we hear you say. Not everything has to be about work, so never underestimate the power of a good dose of make-believe. Fiction can provide an escape, the chance to distance yourself from everything that’s going on in the wider world. It’s a great way to be kind to yourself.

But it can also have a tangential work benefit. Being a strategist is all about having empathy, putting yourself in their shoes and bringing their view of the world to the table. Fiction forces you to look at the world with a different pair of eyes, to understand others’ experiences. 

To conclude…


Reading is like taking a walk in the countryside, drinking a glass of water or cuddling a puppy. It will help you feel better, regardless of the challenge that you’re facing. 

So next time you find yourself struggling to solve a problem, with creative block or at a loose end, pick up a book. Reading someone else’s words, ideas and perspectives will help you develop your own.