Employee morale: Try bacon

Take this job; I love it. True, it’s easy to love a job that involves saying pretty much whatever you please once a week.

But I love my other job, too. Who wouldn’t like patroling the perimeter for squirrels, getting treats for doing so and then sleeping off those T-bone chewies on a soft bed.

But I guess I’m unusual. A lot of people either hate their job or simply tolerate it because they need money to pay their mortgage and buy more crap at Wal-Mart on the weekend.

I didn’t realize this sad state of human affairs until I listened to Stephen J. Dubner, the author of “Freakonomics,” doing his radio gig on NPR’s “Marketplace” the other night. The subject was workplace morale or lack thereof. Dubner, who makes all kinds of interesting below-the-surface connections on everything from economic indicators to Linsanity found that workplace morale can be gauged by all sorts of factors.

The prevalence of Dilbert cartoons at an employee’s desk might mean passive aggressive dissatisfaction, one reader told Dubner. Another reader determined during his career that employees who park facing forward indicate a company with good morale. A car backed into a spot and ready to hit the gas at 5 p.m. on the dot indicates low morale. I park my hide anywhere comfy that I can curl up in a ball. What does that mean?

Dubner also talked to Michael Johnson, a professor at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Johnson says research shows that employee morale might be the only remaining competitive advantage an organization has. That is, when morale is good, so is productivity. When it’s bad, productivity suffers, too.

He also found out that people tend to game the system on sick time if given the opportunity to when they feel put-upon by their employer. Makes perfect sense to me, though if I were really put out, I’d just pee on the boss’s shoes or something.

As I get ready to start my new job as a pet therapist, I’m thinking about this morale thing more. I don’t plan on barking in sick; instead I’ll let it be known here and now that my morale perks up every time I get a good belly rub, a nice scratching under the chin, and random samplings of bacon.

And I did I mention bacon?

The morale of every person I visit just might depend on it.

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