“May I please have a strategic plan with poor morale on the side?”

“A man walks into a bar and says…”

Sorry, I’m not about to make you laugh with one of my outdated bar jokes. Something more sobering came across my desk today.

The Conference Board released their 22nd report on job satisfaction in the U.S. After surveying over 5, 000 households, they learned that only 45% of people surveyed are satisfied with their jobs.  That dropped from 61% in 1987.

To make matters worse, they found that 51% currently find their jobs interesting.  This is quite a drop from nearly 70% in 1987.

The research team offers many causes for this steady decline, such as:

* Incomes are not keeping pace with inflation
* Soaring health insurance costs are eating into wages and salaries
* Wage growth has barely risen for most workers
* More people are dissatisfied with their bosses than in the past

I think the Conference Board may be missing the point.  People are less satisfied and interested in their work for other reasons.  I believe that most companies have pared down staff so drastically that they are expecting people to perform the roles of many. I have seen this with several of my clients. One automation company eliminated their marketing department and expects their top producing sales teams to develop marketing messages.  Another company recently launched a global operation. Instead of assigning roles in the respective countries, they expect the top executives to work 18-20 hours a day and conduct business across extreme time zones.

In the race to survive our brutal recession, we may have cut into the muscle of our organizations.  We are just beginning to see the results of these extreme cost-cutting activities. The Conference Board study creates more opportunities for us to transform our cultures and stop leading our companies exclusively from our balance sheets. A Wealthy Business incorporates solid performance management systems with their strategic growth plans. One without the other causes misalignment and employee discord. Just ask former employees from Worldcom, Adelphia, and Enron.

Now is the time to create a new menu of hiring and retention options for our organizations. Fill it with healthy choices.

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