Corporate America: boring, soulless, fixated on profit. So how does This Could Hurt—based entirely around the daily happenings of a human resources team—yield such a delicious, satisfying book? Because Jillian Medoff delivers a story that is about so much more than run-of-the-mill office politics.
Rosa Guerrero, a widow and seasoned executive whose career has been her proudest accomplishment, heads up human resources at Ellery Consumer Research Group, a Manhattan company feeling the pain of the Great Recession. “If 2008 was a rollicking roller coaster of pink slip parties and ex-banker bacchanals,” Medoff writes, “then 2009 was the head-splitting hangover, the global economy splayed on the couch, wired, tired, too broken to move.”
While Rosa is fiercely protective of her employees, she also gets the sense that they’re not exactly living up to their full potential. There’s Peter, her trusted VP of operations, who gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Rob, her lead for recruiting and training, manages to defeat a few levels of Brick Breaker on his Blackberry every day, but not much else. Lucy, who oversees policy and communications, soldiers on through the recession, but loses a little bit of her drive every day. Kenny, a whip-smart Wharton grad in charge of compensation, knows he’s underemployed but doesn’t have a clue how to fix his life.
Only Leo, her trusted employee benefits manager, lives up to Rosa’s exacting standards. But he is miserable in his job and his life. When Rosa is stricken by a serious health issue a few months before retirement, her team comes together to protect her. But can they step up after so many years of inertia?
This Could Hurt is a worthy follow-up to Medoff’s bestseller I Couldn’t Love You More. Filled with heart and humor, it will ring true to anyone who’s experienced both the cruelty and the camaraderie that make up the modern American workplace.