Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Happy Workplaces: Cut Me A Break

I have to admit that a press release I received today really annoys me. I'd use another phrase, but I'm trying to retain a modicum of professionalism. It's all about creating "happy" workplaces. Cut me a break!

Happy Workplaces: Cut Me A Break

I have to admit that a press release I received today really annoys me. I'd use another phrase, but I'm trying to retain a modicum of professionalism.

It's all about creating "happy" workplaces. Cut me a break!

Here's one particularly galling paragraph: "This spring Roxanne is traveling across North America “lauding and applauding” workplaces that get it right, while teaching others how to successfully employ her renowned Kick-Butt Kick-Off® strategy to transform a negative workplace full of petty, excuse-laden, whiney “energy vampires” who suck the life out everyone into a one with employees who are on fire and have the bottom line to prove it."
The "Roxanne" is Roxanne Emmerich, author of a soon to be released book titled Thank God It’s Monday!: How to Create a Workplace You and Your Customers Love . She wants to help companies bust the "baditudes."
I'm all in favor of happy workplaces. I've worked in one and it is a pleasure. But our economy has been trashed by careless, greedy people who have cast aside the lives and happiness of many people, laying them off while retaining bonuses and high salaries. Those that remain employed are petrified and some of the fire they feel is a fire caused by fear, not passion. They are traumatized and victimized. No, they haven't been physically injured, but they've been psychologically wounded. Would anyone say to a crime victim or an abuse victim -- OK, it's time to stop being a "whiney energy vampire?" Yet, that is perfectly fine to say to employees who shuddered in fear on layoff days as they watched their colleagues being hustled out to the parking lot like criminals.
Kick butt? Cut me a break! How about "Try a Little Tenderness." That would be more apropos.  
Roxanne has it right that a happy workplace is a productive workplace. But in my opinion, it should begin with an sincere acknowledgment of people's pain. An apology might be in order, probably repeated apologies. The key is honesty. Otherwise all these calls for "happiness," are just another ploy and breed increased cynicism.
Absent honesty from company management, the best argument for "happiness" on the job is self-preservation -- the personal measures that each of us need to take to keep our souls intact. That will probably have the cumulative effect of improving the atmosphere and perhaps productivity. 
So here's what I say: If you are working, turn around and say something nice to a co-worker. Find something beautiful in your surroundings and stop to enjoy it. Try to dwell on the positive and find some pleasure in your individual tasks. Take a break from the negative. Call someone who is unemployed today and say hello.  Try a little tenderness.         

 

About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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