The 5 Most Useless Motivational Tactics Every Workplace Uses
Do you have a job? You probably hate it. According to Forbes, a whopping 19 percent of Americans are happy with their jobs. Nineteen percent. More people believe that aliens have visited Earth and the government is covering it up. That's not even a joke, real surveys indicate that. More people, when they stop and think about it, are apt to say, "Holy shit, I hate my job, but good thing aliens have visited Earth because maybe they'll abduct me from this goddamn Orange Julius stand and end my suffering by probing me into oblivion one day." People literally say that. Not literally. But if you say it right now, then literally. Say it. Say it and make me the Internet comedy version of Nostradamus.
The fact is, work sucks, apparently 81 percent of the time, and it's small wonder, since most of us work for big, ridiculous companies that get their HR departments to brainstorm the most insane, pointless rules and ideas for their employees to ensure that each and every day is a special form of Turkish-gulag-level, mind-numbing suffering. And the tragic part is that management is just as able to tell how much shit they're shoveling as you are when it gets shoveled in your face, but the unspoken agreement is that we all smile and take it for no reason at all.
When a company gets to a certain size, its employee base becomes ungainly, like abnormally corpulent testicles on a little man with chubby thighs, and he's trying to run to catch that elevator, but dammit, it's not going to happen. So many low-level plebes work for them, it's like a goatherd with too many damn goats in the field and they're all out there eating scrub brush and pebbles and shit and the goatherd doesn't like it. You hoary goats. So the goatherd has to think of a way to keep those goats in line. The answer is cheerleading. This no longer makes sense with the goat metaphor, which was really rickety to begin with.
Work for any major corporation on the ground floor in an environment with a fairly large number of other employees, be it a Staples or a McDonald's or whatever, and odds are you're going to be subjected to some manner of pre-shift meetings in which your manager gathers the crew together to let you know how awesome you're all doing. Except for this, this and this. But otherwise awesome! So awesome that maybe you can do better than yesterday today! Awesome! Go you! I am going to throat-fist your soul every day you work here until you quit, get fired or have to be institutionalized!
It's not a metaphor. Open up.
Nineteen percent of people apparently give a shit when their manager does this, though in fairness a percentage of that 19 percent are probably managers and people who are self-employed, so let's just assume 5 percent of workers like these cheerleader company meetings, and a high percentage of that 5 percent need their managers to re-pin their mittens at the end of said meetings.
HR people can't be so stupid as to believe that employees are motivated by hearing how much money the store is making, or how much more the store needs to make because of their lazy hides not working hard enough. There's no way to spin a "our success is your success" speech into something that doesn't sound like utter bullshit unless employees are getting a cut, and even when they are, it just means that they're generally forced into a position where they look at co-workers as competition rather than people in the same boat, so you're just as unhappy at work. If you are happy at work and don't feel this way at all, consider yourself lucky, and maybe also consider that everyone you work with may hate you.
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Job interviews suck so hard, and there's one reason above all others why this is so, one question you will be asked in nine out of 10 job interviews that you will never, ever answer honestly, but dread hearing all the same. Why do you want to work here? Eat so many bags of so many dicks, Question. In fact, mix those dicks with balls and assholes and make crotch trail mix.
In a fair and good world, you would look the interviewer in the eye and say something like "Well, I really need a job right now and I think I'm qualified for this one and I'd definitely do my best at it" or something equally as charmingly honest. But first and foremost, for nearly every one of us for all our lives, the reason you want to work there is because you need a job. You need money because the grocery store keeps chasing you out of the produce aisle with a broom when you perch on the grape bin and start nibbling to sustain yourself. No one wants to work at a place of business because they saw how it produces a superior grade of notebook paper and they really feel that superior notebook paper represents their own outlook on life and oh, by the way, I'm masturbating to a picture of your CEO right now.
It'd be awesome if we could all work at a company that pays well and also makes the world a better place by doing something we believe in, but those two jobs were already taken. The rest of us have to settle for working at Walmart, and the only people who are taking a look at Walmart's corporate culture and thinking it really represents what they want people to know about them can be summoned by saying their name five times in a mirror.
We tell interviewers we like the way the company does business, we feel we share similar values, we like the same music, we both laugh when we turn our heads the wrong way and bump our noses when we make out, whatever it takes to score the job, but come on. No one believes that shit, and it's just HR all but coming out and saying, "Can you give me a metaphorical blowie right now? Because I got a hankering to cover you in phantasmaspoogia."
Almost any given workplace is a weird domino game of "Oh shit, the boss is coming!" The fry cook suddenly looks busy when the supervisor walks in, the supervisor looks busy when the manager is in, the manager is wearing a tie and has his pants done up for the district manager, the district manager tells the meth heads to stay home when the regional manager is doing inspections and the regional manager acts like Detroit doesn't have any operational stores when the East Coast VP wants a report.
Someone always expects you to pretend you're something you're not when you're at work, but it's so much worse when you're just forced to pretend for the benefit of someone else, for a few minutes. Call centers are notorious for this kind of shit, with rules like "no blue jeans." No blue jeans? In a call center? I could be in a kiddie pool full of sangria with a hot dog in my hand and do just as good a job at a call center as anyone else there, why the hell do my pants matter?
I got your tech support right here. Plus a hot dog.
The reason you'll get this at a call center is classic HR giving you the gears -- in case a client comes in. See, call centers look at new clients the way you look at your supervisor: It's someone who can make your life shitty if they want to. So you have to polish all your little turds up nice and shiny for them, and the clients of call centers apparently hate blue jeans. Can you even fathom the logic behind that? Surely Verizon is aware of how awful their own tech support is, blue jeans are the least of their worries. Maybe when you inspect the call center you should focus less on people's pants and more on the number of people who seem to be breathing through their mouths and trying to get their heads out of buckets.
Unless your client is from space, you should assure them you've had NASA conduct tests to ensure that blue jeans will not affect your employees' ability to handle a telephone.
If You Can Lean, You Can Clean
If you've heard this at work before, then you've also suppressed rage at work. This clever rhyme, made up by Victorian-era hatemongers and child abusers, is meant to indicate that for eight hours you should never stop moving, you scurrilous scalawag. This preposterous statement is painful to hear in pretty much any position besides that of a janitor or dishwasher whose actual job it is to clean. If your job is making photocopies, stocking shelves or selling Xbox games, when someone decides that the fact that there's no customer in the building right now means you should wipe counters or sweep the floor, it's a bit like having someone slap your face when you're eating a sandwich and saying, "Eat off the floor, shit monkey!"
It's true, probably, that if you can lean you can clean, but it's also just as true that if you can sit you can shit, if you can dance you own pants and if you punch a bear in the face it'll probably revenge eat you. You can make up a lot of douchebag sayings, but none of them are likely to change your job description.
I will even eat your gross parts. I don't give a shit.
Is it unfair to assume that you should not be wallowing in filth at work? No. Clean your shit hole up if it needs cleaning, but every waking moment of your working life does not need to be given over to doing something, no matter how unnecessary. That's not how work works. If your job is to sell computers and no one is in to buy a computer, your boss is an asshole if he wants you to clean spiderwebs out of the loading bay. Loading Bay Spiderweb Guy should clean that shit, that's why we hired him. Creepy fuck.
Forbes tells me 64 percent of people surveyed admit to visiting non-work-related sites at work every single day. Those are the people who admitted it, so the number is obviously higher. Various articles over the last five years have suggested that the average worker wastes anywhere from one and a half to two and a half hours out of each workday doing whatever the hell. When I worked at a Staples, I used to look for better jobs on their computer (that'll get you in trouble, by the way), but the point is, people have time during their day, no matter what the job. If you flip burgers, the moment will come when no one is hungry. If you stock shelves, you'll get them all filled. If you sell heroin, everyone is going to be high one day. So then what? Polish your heroin bags? Shut up with that.
The reason most people give for workplace slacking is that they don't feel challenged. Take that out of workplace speak and it means you literally had nothing worth doing, because polishing the doorknob is not something worth doing. When people literally have nothing to do, by making up new tasks for them like they're annoying 5-year-olds that you need to get out of your hair, you're just ensuring that the next website they look at is going to be a job board where they can find a less shitty workplace that doesn't treat them like a lazy maid.
Sweet Mary Sunshine, what a crock of shit. Team building is what human resources chose to call their Jigsawesque group-based torture project. Do you want to finish your workday in peace? Well, I want to play a game. The game I want to play is very infuriating, and pointless, and childish, and will drive you completely insane. And it is, of course, mandatory! Queue maniacal clownish laughter.
Look how little my pants are!
Team-building exercises can be as mundane as that godforsaken trust game where you have to close your eyes and fall backward, or as terrifyingly complex as forcing you to group up and devise team cheers based around the names of the people in your group, or go for nature hikes and forage for your own lunch in the wild. I'm not even kidding, crazy shit like that actually happens, and your company may even hire an outside consulting firm to help them come up with these ideas, because it takes a special kind of crazy to think that making a team of salespeople try to identify whether a mushroom is poisonous or not is a good way to motivate them. And hey, what better way to build up a team environment at work than to make everyone compete against each other? How could that backfire?
I'm no scientician, but I will state with a fair degree of confidence that the only thing these sorts of activities are likely to motivate are threatening mutterings and insulting comedy articles on the Internet. There's likely some good to be gained from team building in a new environment when no one knows each other by forcing people to have that awkward "Hi, my name is____" moment and then maybe get to know each other for a few minutes, but how this translated into square-dancing weekend getaways or hunting a homeless man for sport with the winning team getting access to the executive bathroom is anyone's guess.
There's survey evidence to back this up as well, indicating that most workers think your team-building exercise should go build a castle made of shit in the basement somewhere and leave them alone, but good luck ever convincing lost and confused management types who need to pretend that they're being proactive that, especially when they still need to figure out what "proactive" even means.
Check out more Ian in 7 Safety Products (for the Incredibly Paranoid) and 10 Popular Porn Scenarios That Seem Highly Implausible.