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Workplace Productivity Producing Sarcasm

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Employee productivity may be up according to the Department of Labor, but there’s one sure sign that employee satisfaction is still in the dumps: flippant remarks.

Take a look at this photo, which an unidentified source caught in the wild:

consulting on office sign

The note on the top is probably intended to have a positive impact on employee productivity. But even if you read it by itself, the language is pretty demoralizing.

First, it begins with an edict: “Our office hours start at 8:30 AM.”

We know that micromanaging employees has a tremendously negative impact on employee satisfaction. Dictating that they must be there by a certain time isn’t going to garner much respect.

But then, the poster gets even worse. It continues by listing other times at which presumably workers tend to stumble in. It goes on and on, listing more times than certainly would be necessary to get the point across.


© Flickr user Alan Cleaver

Finally, the upper notice includes a signature from “your longest serving partner.” That’s like saying, “I’m the only productive employee around here, and you should listen to me because I’ve been here for ages.”

Workplace productivity does benefit from experience, but the second posting doesn’t show much judgment. Instead, it’s a sarcastic retort. Not only does it mock the original, but it even ends with “your humble servant.” Perhaps the prankster is trying to express that he feels more like a slave than a colleague. This could be an instance of just one less than ideal employee, but there’s a good chance that something else is at play here.

We’ve known for a long time that working overtime is counterproductive.  But what this image demonstrates is one of the most obvious signs of a dangerously unhealthy workplace.

Any time people crack sarcastic jokes at the office, you can be sure they are just trying to find ways to relieve tension.   But why is the office stressful in the first place? And we’re not talking about the kind of workplace stress that’s beneficial to worker productivity. Instead, a battle of snarky signs ought to tell us that we need to seriously assess our organizational culture.

Think about a top candidate coming in for a job interview. Would you want them interacting with employees making sarcastic remarks about the workplace? Even if those remarks are supposedly all in good fun? I didn’t think so. And if that’s the case, then there’s no way it can be healthy when it’s people who are currently employed either. If there’s an undercurrent of sarcasm, then something clearly isn’t right and needs to be fixed before things get any worse.

Everyone wants to improve employee productivity. That’s a no-brainer. But plastering your opinions to the wall using a nasty tone is no way to drive lasting change.

Instead, we need to address the structure of work. We need to be willing to question assumptions and redesign basic patterns. We must be ready to hear the thoughts of each and every employee. Communication is the number one tool to solve problems. Before our opinions are taken to a sheet of paper, they should be taken in person to the offender. The majority of the time, a simple conversation will be able to solve the problem. Productivity can be dramatically increased, but only if the people doing the work are part of the process.

Struggling with workflow design within your organization? We can help and would be happy to do so! Contact the business improvement consultants at AccelaWork today. We’ve seen all sorts of organizational problems and we can get you on the fastest route to success.

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