Companies and ships have this in common: Success depends heavily on crew morale, the eagerness born of spirit, zeal, and zest. You can’t buy morale, much less bribe or bully it into existence. But you can sharply boost it--at little or no cost--by spicing serious work days with unserious good times.
These are difficult times in the business world. No company or job is safe anymore. And the fear of unemployment is real for many people. In some respects, high morale can be defined as having faith that your company’s business prospects will mean that you continue to have a job. However, we must all strive for greater excellence in the workplace, even in tough times.
Every manager’s worst nightmare is a workplace full of enemies--angry, bitter, bored people who despise their bosses, along with themselves. The next worse nightmare is a workforce of robots who do their jobs as convicts do time, with zero creativity, enthusiasm, or loyalty to the company and its goals.
In both cases, leaders have themselves mainly to blame. Along with myopic hiring, they create and perpetuate dysfunctional companies by not seizing their power--and duty--to humanize the workplace, lighten up the climate, and help people actually enjoy their jobs.