What Happened to Camp Happy Workplace?

23 Jun, 2013 Bob Wilson


We have spent, over the last couple decades, an inordinate amount of time, resources, money, energy and effort “sensitizing” the American employer, ostensibly to improve the workplace experience and enhance productivity in this country. We have seminars, motivational speakers, sensitivity training, books, blogs, audio programs, online courses and more, all designed to make today's modern supervisor delicately sensitive and keenly aware to their employees needs, wants, desires and passions. We have political correctness invading every possible corner of our society assuring that someone somewhere isn't offended by something somebody else said or implied. We should, after all this effort, be the happiest workforce on the planet.

But we're not.

A recent Gallup poll shows that Seven out of 10 workers have "checked out" at work or are "actively disengaged". 70 percent apparently do not care about what they do, or who they do it for. Furthermore, that poll tells us that fully 20% of us hate our jobs and “undermine” our companies with our crappy attitudes. The survey classifies three types of employees. The first is actively engaged, who are generally people who enjoy work and are enthusiastic about what they do (30%). The second type of worker is "not engaged”, which means they are simply going through the motions, having little care or passion about what they do (50%). These are the “checked out” people; the employees sharpening pencils all day until the clock hits 5. The third type, labeled "actively disengaged," are the haters and malcontents (20%). They hate going to work.

It is interesting to note this when you consider the numbers. Gallup says this poll is representative of the 100 million people who have full time jobs in the United States. If that is accurate, than the poll shows that 30 million happy busy bees are taking up the slack for 50 million pencil sharpeners, and 20 million potentially violent workplace perpetrators.

What the hell happened to Camp Happy Workplace?

Before we move on to the colossal failure of the politically correct, namby pamby, touchy feely, thumb sucking, over sensitized supervisor and commensurate work environment, let us take a moment to talk a bit more about the third level of employee identified in this poll, the “actively disengaged”.

How does one become “actively disengaged”? Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron? I mean the definition of disengaged is “to withdraw or mentally separate yourself or somebody else from a situation or difficulty”. The definition of actively is “full of or involved in busy activity”. So we may conclude that those who are “actively disengaged” are fully involved in the busy activity of withdrawing or mentally separating themselves from their work.

It sounds exhausting. No wonder they are pissed off whiners.

Interestingly, the group of grumpy grouches is most likely to be comprised of Millennials and Baby Boomers. I kind of understand the Baby Boomers. They had hoped to retire early, and live their golden years being pampered and catered to by hacked off and unappreciative Millennials. However, economic events, political uncertainty, global warming and Obamacare have essentially guaranteed that many of us will die at our desks with our mouse in our hand. And if the Millennials are unhappy now, just wait until all us old geezers who have been doing the heavy lifting die off in our cubicles. Your job will really suck then. Plus it won't smell very good, either.

The poll also found that those with a college education were more likely to be in the middle, “checked out” group. Clearly today, avoiding Millennials, Baby Boomers and the college educated is critical. If we want to build a happy and successful workforce, we should hire only middle aged people who have no college education.

And what of Camp Happy Workplace? What has happened to the unequivocal push for fairness and open door policies on the job? Why haven't our efforts resulted in happier, more productive people?  Who knows; maybe fairness isn't as fair as we thought it would be. Perhaps people respect and respond to structure and principled discipline. In my office we have neither, but our employees are happy simply because it is our policy they be so. We insist on happy employees, or threaten them that the floggings may resume. And that my friends, is principled discipline. I guess we have that after all.

As for the rest of the workforce out there, suck it up. Stop whining. Wear your big boy pants. Things could be far worse. Appreciate the chance to contribute and the fact you have a job. Gallup estimates you and your fellow malingerers cost the U.S. up to $550 billion in economic activity every year. We could do a lot with that money. We could employ more malcontents, for one. We could even fund our government for a month. So stop lollygagging and get back to work – with a smile.

Become a happy camper in Camp Happy Workplace. We'll eventually win you over, as the floggings will continue until morale improves.

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