Companies should create a Chief Morale Officer (CMO) whose sole job is to improve the situation for the company’s employees. I believe that morale is equally important as other C-level positions (accounting/finance, strategy/vision, or technology) so it should be treated with similar respect.
Knowledge worker productivity is very important. We’re seeing renewed interest in the area and a few neat studies, such as this one using Mechanical Turk. Dan Pink gave a great TED talk on the subject in which he declares that workers need three things: mastery, autonomy, and purpose. I firmly believe that morale is the X-factor that leads to continuing success for companies.
Google and Apple have employees that are proud, motivated, and happy. And these people continue to produce amazing products. Many acquisitions are done in hopes of gaining the best and brightest people, but as soon as these people join the new company, their morale drops and their ideas dry up. A happy worker is a productive worker; they bring ideas, energy, enthusiasm, care and concern. An unhappy programmer may hammer out 100 lines of undocumented, uncreative code a day, while a happy programmer would write 200 lines of well documented, elegant code with tests. Being happy removes distractions and helps you find your flow.
As we move more and more towards a service economy, many jobs cannot be done by unhappy people. Happy people are better at service. Humans can be thought of as complex machines. If you’re going to acquire a complex machine, take care of it. You should not break your complex tools or your business fails. Overall, businesses should be getting nicer, although I’m not sure that’s true.
Companies should create a Chief Morale Officer (CMO) whose sole job is to improve the situation for the company’s employees. Make work fun and reap the rewards!