A book club in a big company can be a great way to engage, connect, and deepen trust within your team or across departments. Having a book club is a chance to create intelligent and purposeful interactions, create new partnerships, share opinions, and improve overall communication by everyone involved. The book may be a topic to challenge, to connect, or to engage the group and it may or may not be one of choice. A book club forces members to reflect and interact in a different way. Learning another person’s background and opinions and allow them to share their point of view, open to different perspectives, and to trust and care for co-workers in a new way. It gives each person to be expressive with no hierarchy or agenda.

Here are five reasons to why your company should start a book club.

1. Connect Co-Workers

You know the views and opinions of your best friends, but rarely do you get the opportunity to have more intimate and authentic discussions like this with your co-workers. Perhaps, those on different floors have only shared the elevator or passed in walking through a floor other than their own. Yet there are interactions across departments in various forms. Gaining valuable perspectives from the diverse team of people you work with will create a greater connection to those people, greater respect, increase the level of trust and create a higher level of sensitivity while working with one another. Co-workers that like one another, work more effectively and efficiently together.

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success , people who live the longest result not from healthy living but from a sense of belonging. He studied a town in Roseto, Pa, a town entirely made up of citizens who came from the village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy. The study showed that the people had a feeling of trust and security among Rosetans because the people of the town always had someone they knew and who knew them to turn to for support. They concluded that the extraordinary health of this unique population could only be explained in terms of “extended family” and “community.”

Greater connection creates a strong community.

2. Create a sense of belonging

Book clubs are inclusive, allowing each member to participate and share their views. This creates a greater sense of belonging to the group. A sense of belonging is a basic need that builds confidence, trust, and connection.

In addition, Kelly McGonigal the author of “The Upside of Stress”, reveals a study that was done with college students. Freshman drop-out rates are above 50%. A study was done to show the impact on the drop-out rate as a result of making students feel a greater sense of belonging through support, connection, and engagement. The study group resulted in a reduction of that drop-out rate by more than 50%.

People who feel like they belong and they matter to the organization, are more engaged and take a higher level of ownership in their work and the results they are creating. They develop a “do what it takes attitude versus a “whatever” attitude. Bad stress goes down and good stress goes up to create a greater sense of contribution.

3. Create Inspiration
Fiction and non-fiction books on multiple themes, genres, and subjects can stir the thinking brain and grab a topic never thought of before.

People get stuck and sometimes all they need is a little inspiration or a shift in perspective to get them unstuck. An open discussion around a powerful book can be a huge inspiration to spark new ideas, outside of the box thinking, innovation, efficiencies, new approaches and more.

Inspiration often comes from getting outside of your current way of thinking and your environment and connecting thoughts from others, developments in other industries and stories about people that create new connections in our minds.

4. De-Stressing
Work can create stress and we need more ways to get rid of it. We can walk around and work out but getting into your heart and out of your head – can be a great way to relieve stress. Conversations around issues in the office can be therapeutic in this structured way like a therapy session. People can work together to find solutions to common issues using a strategy from one of the books that they read together and share perspectives on how these strategies can help reduce stress, improve efficiency and make the environment more fun.

The benefits of reducing stress at work will increase productivity, improve communication, elevate health, and improve relationships both inside and outside of the business environment.

5. Management Training
Make it mandatory to utilize what they have learned and apply it in their work. Get creative in getting all the above accomplished within this form of training. Instead of the usual course days that are often forgotten the day after the course. Engage the application of the principles they learn in the books over time in smaller chunks. Productivity will increase due to a focus on implementation, connection, and inspiration.

Billionaires can list multiple books to recommend that are fictional for influencing their decisions. Bill Gates cites Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. Jeff Bezos cites The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Just about every other major business innovator supports I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Books can open minds. Isn’t that why we tell children to read, to expand their thoughts and minds? Adults in major corporations should too.