Ways to Raise Your Employees’ Morale

Monday, 29 March 2010
Pleasing employees is like second-guessing the stock market; you have to work extremely hard to get it right, most experts agree you can’t do it consistently, and if you get it wrong then you’ll end up with no money and hated by everyone, particularly yourself.

Fortunately, unlike the ungovernable and incorporeal stock market, employees are both governable and corporeal; meaning that you will be able to govern them into a real corps of happy, hardworking staff. Follow these rules and you’ll get consistent, positive results; because, just like in the stock market, an employee really is just a number.

5. Speak louder

There’s a simple reason that your employees act like morons, and that they never do anything properly; because you’re not speaking loudly enough. In the last war film you saw, when the officer said “fire!” did any of the soldiers go, “oh, sorry, did you say fire? I’ll get to work on that right away, but because I only just found out that firing is what you want from me I’ll not be able to get it done today. How’s Wednesday for you?” No, they damn well fired, and the only difference between you and that officer is that you aren’t shouting loudly enough.

Shouting reduces the need for your employees to ask questions. If they do ask one, repeat what you just said, but louder. Nine times out of ten, they are just asking for re-affirmation, and how better to explain what you said than by saying it again, but louder? Try standing closer to them as well. That’ll make it seem louder still.

Also, shouting means that everyone near you will hear you all of the time. This creates a network effect, where everyone knows what you want and can work together as a team to meet those needs. Anything to make the shouting stop. This hectic drive to complete their tasks will give your employees occupational value, and consequently they’ll feel meaningfully employeed.

4. Efficiency savings

Efficiency savings can be made everywhere; and an efficient employee is a happy employee. I will make an efficiency saving in this paragraph by not explaining what they are, but will instead demonstrate them. Here are a few tips:

Reduce power consumption; Make your employees work in the dark, or limit the maximum temerature of coffee to lukewarm – all helping save valuable utilities money - and reducing the likelihood of scalding injuries. An employee with burnt genitals will not have high morale.

Why not ban the use of adjectives and adverbs from written documents? This makes documents clearer, quicker to write, and cheaper to print. Ban adjectives and adverbs from employee conversations too to reduce the time it takes them to speak. In fact, why not ban nouns, verbs and conjunctions, and ban employee conversations altogether?

Why not make them bring all of the documents they have printed to you before they can get more blank paper, just to show that they have used it wisely. Also, get them to drop a few font sizes on printouts and get them into the habit of checking pictures and diagrams with a magnifying glass, allowing a 90% reduction in size. Colour ink is especially expensive, so remove it from the printers.

Why not draw paths on the floor to illustrate the shortest distance between every part of the office? Then if the employees deviate from the pre-set paths you can force them to explain why, which will make them think about personal efficiency as a penance for taking slightly longer to get from one place to another. Remind them that this isn’t a Sunday stroll; it’s a busy workplace environment.

Why not efficiensize the phonetic alphabet? The existing alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie etc, etc.) is very boring. It has no contextual consistency, making it difficult to remember, and the words themselves are mundane, so when your employees use them their voices will slur with ennui, soon leaving them a hollow shell of their potential, efficient selves. You need to replace it with a new phonetic alphabet; one with a strong thematic link running through it and memorable words which trip off the tongue delightfully. Why not get your employees to use this new Phonetic Alphabet (With Dinosaurs)?

3. Masturbation Fridays:

Masturbation Fridays speak for themselves, I feel.

2. Laugh everything off

One man’s harassment is another man’s banter. Just laugh it off when you hear that an employee has been harassed and they will surely follow suit. After all, it’s impossible to fill in a complaint form if your hand is shaking with all that laughter (or possibly from the emotional devastation, but probably with laughter).

Also, if you fail to make good on a promise, such as forgetting to refill the fire extinguishers or distribute last week’s wages, then just say “woops!” and laugh cheerfully, which will encourage everyone else to see the funny side and join in. If they don’t, fire them, then laugh. You don’t need their sort around here, glumming everything up with their misery.

1. Concentration boosting:

Did you know that drinking lots of water improves your concentration? This is because water swooshes around your brain, washes of the dust, and restores it to a shiny pinkness.

So force your employees to drink more water. Here’s what to do; secretly record everything they do for a day and add together all the times they drop a pen, make a minor spelling error (even if they fix it, they're still wasting time), or otherwise lapse from total concentration. Add all these numbers up, then present them with the number, tell them it is their lack-of-concentration score, and let them know that you expect this number to go down significantly if they drink another 2 or 3 litres of water during the working day.

Then fire them if it doesn’t. After all, they obviously disobeyed your instruction to drink more water.

To assist your employees, install new water fountains and secretly pop a few handfuls of caffeine in them to further increase their concentration. Make these new fountains the hubs of the office, where people go to liaise with colleagues over a mind-boosting cup of bitter, caffeinated water. Give them a name; how about energy hubs, or brain zones, or concentration camps?

Soon your employees will be efficient, cheerful, focussed and, most importantly, hard working. If not, then keep doing all of the above but using an even louder voice.

Very top five worst people to speak to on a train

Monday, 22 March 2010
I quite like taking the train, but I can’t seem to pass a train journey without someone sidling up to me and spilling their life story all over me a like a simmering cup of bitter coffee. And I didn’t even want coffee. I just wanted to do my crossword.

Maybe you too have a big friendly face, honest eyes and a smile permanently creasing your cheeks. If so, damn; people are going to assume that you’re always up for some jolly banter, the selfish bastards.

5. The Bores

Some people are starved of attention for a reason; because they are boring. These people are so hungry for a conversation (or: to speak at you for hours without stopping to breathe) that they will literally take any opportunity handed to them. Don’t smile at them, don’t make eye contact, don’t even look…! You looked!

“Hello,” They will say, in a disarmingly friendly and normal sounding way. It would be churlish not to acknowledge them, even with the most cursory nod. But by now it’s too late, and you’ll be sucked into their vortex of ennui-inducing chatter like a pube down a drain.

The narrow focus of their interest will also betray their status as a bore. It won’t just be “cars”. It will be “Saabs manufactured before 1989.” (That’s before General Motors bought Saab from Scania after the restructuring of Saab into an independent company during a time in the company’s history when … (I stopped making notes at this point as my fingers deliberately snapped the pen and tried to slit my throat with the sharp plastic shards)…)

The best way to deal with these people is to simply pop in your mp3 player and turn up the volume. They’ll probably just keep talking, either at you or else effortlessly slide the focus of their conversation to someone nearby.

4. The Crazies

When it comes to the most foul of the racists and bigots, you want to watch out for that harmless-looking old woman, squinting rheumily into her bag of boiled sweets and perched rheumatically on the edge of her seat.

If you sit next to her, she might call you “dear” and offer you a sweet. All will be smiles and chuckles, then suddenly her wrinkles will deepen into scowled trenches of disdain and her eyes will narrow crustily. Don’t even look at what she’s looking at, I can tell you that it will be either; a teenage mother; anyone who looks even slightly foreign (by any measure, whether it’s skin tone, choice of clothes, or general shiftiness); or a youth (who is doubtless ‘hanging around looking for trouble’).

Then suddenly it will turn out that Mrs. Old Lady has a whisper like a knife being enthusiastically steeled as she offers you the opportunity to concur with her that something ought to be done about this by someone. It’s a disgrace, she’ll conclude, as you radiate lack of agreement while not inciting her to further explanation by trying to look as neutral as possible.

Also, watch out for views that sound harmless. It might not sound like what you are agreeing to is intrinsically repulsive, such as “young people should take pride in their appearance.” But don’t look as if you agree quite yet, because then you’ll get swept up in her upcoming justification. For example, people say an awful lot of bad things about Adolf Eichmann, but at least his uniform was always spotless. Very neat man, good posture. We need more youths like that these days, taking a bit of pride in themselves.

That sort of thing.

3. The Flirts

When someone sultrily whispers; “Hi there, is this seat taken,” then if you were to shut your eyes and imagine what you’d like them to look like before actually looking then you would never be pleasantly surprised. For one thing, they tend to have more chins than you’d have anticipated.

It is usually quite nice to be flattered, but as they remark on how much they like your haircut, or your shirt, or your magnificent blue eyes, you cannot shake the mental picture of a farmer stroking a pig’s back to calm it down as his other hand reaches for the stun gun and knife.

Unlike the bores and the crazies, the flirts will ask you questions. Ceaselessly, in fact. About every damn topic they can think of. This is because they once read a book that said men love the feeling of importance they get when they are asked questions, but I always feel that since I know that they know that, the effect is rather spoiled. Also, if they know that I know that they know that, then it just feels like they are going through the motions like a horny automaton, going by the book time and time again in the hope of one day snaring someone as ugly and lonely as they are.

Good luck to them. The same book must also have said that perfume should be applied until you have reached saturation point for the fabric of your ghastly clothes, and that make-up should be applied with a grouting trowel.

2. The Woebegone

They sigh as they scale the slight step onto the train, hand shaking on the rail, and when they do sink slowly into a seat it looks remarkably like a sped up video of a decomposing body recorded in time lapse.

You might try to get on with your crossword puzzle, but your concentration will wither. There is something quite un-ignorable about a person who is making wheezing noises a few inches from your ear. Their damp cough is giving you concerns, and your brain’s internal thesaurus, normally rustling away on your morning crossword, feels suddenly overwhelmed by words like “contagion” and “infection” and “leaking”.

Sneak a look, and you’ll notice that above that shiny slimy nose are two haunted pools of ocular distress. Oops, you looked up, and now they will almost certainly try to engage you in conversation. Their opening gambit will inevitably be “How are you?”

Innocuous sounding, perhaps, but it is designed to illicit the easily given “fine.” This then gives them the liberty to tell you how they are feeling. And as you might have guessed, it’s not “fine.”

Boom, suddenly you’re getting hit with lurid details about the side-effects of their new prescription that wouldn’t sound out of place in one of those documentaries about wasting diseases in the 1800s. They seem to almost relish the description as they tell you that their doctor doesn’t know what to do with them, and that they’ve been though three bandages for their wound this week already. “It’s all the pus, you see, it’s soaks through quite quickly,” they’ll earnestly confide.

The best response is not to offer advice, but rather to say “uh-huh… yup… oh dear… uh-huh…” until either you need to get off the train or they finally die of whatever is making them cough so phlegmatically at the end of every tortuous sentence. (That same hacking pause is also your window of opportunity to vacate your seat, should you reach the former before the merciful latter embraces them.)

1. The Merry

“Woooooooo!” they’ll say, as they grin at you from about three inches away.

A modest volume of alcohol will worsen the traits of all of the people described above; the bore, the crazy, the flirt and the woebegone; as their inhibitions are lowered and they feel that they absolutely must tell you all about Saabs before 1989/ where foreigners can go/ how long it’s been since they indulged in physical carnality/ what the colour of their mucus signifies.

A larger volume of alcohol produces a new monster, more terrible than any that have gone before. This monster is one that primarily wants to be your best friend, but might also be sick on your shoes, divulge all of its personal secrets and start a fight with you, all in the same ten minutes.

They might have been drunk when they got on the train, or they might have bought their alcohol from the trolley; giving rise to the fantastically tautological statement; “I’m drinking to celebrate my discovery that they sell alcohol on trains,” reinforced by another “Woooooooo!”

Any attempt to ignore them and get on with your crossword will be rebuffed with “You don’t want to do that. Have a drink. Woooooooo!” and any attempt to listen to your mp3 player will be countered with “What are you listening to? You can have one earphone in and I’ll have the other, then we can both listen! Have a drink! Woooooooo!” and any attempt to gently coerce them into silence by dint of disinterest in anything they say or do will be rendered pointless with “You don’t say much, do you? But that’s ok, I’m the chatty one and you’re the silent one. That’s what makes us such a good match for each other. Woooooooo!”


Then, one day, you might finally get some peace. There’s hardly anyone in the train carriage, and astonishingly no-one seems interested in talking to you. At long last, you get to do your crossword. But a few words later, and you’re bored. You look up. There is someone sitting across from you, and they aren’t doing anything except looking out of the window and smiling. As you open your mouth to speak, spare a minute to wonder; should I perhaps just leave them alone? Can random conversations with strangers lead to interesting discussions on topics of mutual interest, or friendships that would otherwise have slipped away forever, or even a wonderful romance that started in the middle of nowhere on the 1800 train to Edinburgh. So, should I say hello? Or should I just leave this person alone, looking out of the window?

If the person sitting across from you is me, then yes; you damn well should.