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Average employees are here to stay

The Power County Press of American Falls, Idaho

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Moore or Less

Brett was gone and I was checking his email, as he requested, when I ran across a spam email on how to fix your "average" employees. This put me in an interesting dilemma. Should I erase emails that might encourage my boss to fix me?

According to the email average employees always leave the office on time and do not deliver anything over and above what's expected. Those average employees! They are always doing their job and leaving work on time. What are they thinking?

The email didn't have any profound suggestions for helping those poor average employees so I left it for Brett. However, there's plenty of effort going on to try and motivate employees, though not all of it is quite effective.

For example, McDonald's tried to encourage their employees recently with a website that showed them, among other things, that they shouldn't eat fast food. If that wasn't encouraging enough, it also suggested returning Christmas gifts, getting a second job and obtaining food stamps as potential ways to raise more dough. Much of that has been removed now, I guess because it was motivating in the wrong direction. A group protesting for higher wages took screenshots of the private employee websites and leaked them to the media.

Walmart makes their employees cheer to motivate them. I always wondered how that works out. What do they say? Hooray for bad hours and bad pay? Hooray for all the workers in China who make cheap junk? I've known plenty of people who work for Walmart, and while it's not a bad job by any means, it's not something they are usually wanting to cheer about.

Or, I guess you could just not hire any average employees. Years ago, I applied for a job at Costco. The application took over an hour to fill out, and included dozens of questions about your work ethic. I didn't get the job, so I don't know the correct answers. I'm assuming the correct answers were something along the lines of "I will give Costco my soul. In ajar. For free."

The problem with pre-screening employees Costco style is that you end up with people who all have the same personality. Everyone in Costco is chipper and helpful, which is all fine unless you are in a bad mood and want to be left alone.

What doesn't work either is paying those average employees more. In the United Kingdom, a survey revealed only 13 percent of employees thought financial incentives helped them work harder. So I guess you just can't motivate those average employees. Looks like they're here to stay.

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Original Publication Date: January 1, 2014

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