Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Don't be grumpy, ja!

A German company has banned grumpiness at work, according to this article:

After one female employee refused to smile all day at work, a German IT company banned grumpiness in an effort to promote a more congenial atmosphere, according to The Australian.

The new policy requires employees at Nuzwerk, in the German town of Leipzig, to sign a contract requiring them to remain in a good mood all day at the office and leave complaints and gripes about co-workers and work conditions at home.

"We made the ban on moaning and grumpiness at work official after one female employee refused to subscribe to the company's philosophy of always smiling," office manager Thomas Kuwatsch told TheAustralian.


(Source: Marginal Revolution)

16 comments:

Daniel Hanison said...

It sounds like a good idea apart from the fact that one day someone who hates their co-worker and says nothing about him or her is going to flip out one day and kill them or something...you know those germans!

Brian Zabell said...

Clearly the economically sound decision would've been to wear 37 pieces of flair.

And Daniel you're confusing the Germans with ninjas.

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting way to deal with their workers' attitudes. I see how more optimistic workers who enjoy and take pride in their work would produce a better ultimate product, but by forcing smiles on their faces does not create actual happiness. In my opinion, the management should create better working conditions, like food... bonuses... etc. This way, workers will actually be happy instead of just faking it and thus having more energetic, productive workers.

And I agree with brian. 37 pieces of flare would bring sunshine to anyone's day. Just take it from Office Space, give them a red stapler and good salary, or you could end up losing money to some hackers or just having a burned down building.

-Elisabeth Bentley

Anonymous said...

I like it. From the standpoint of management, it's a track that leads workers to eventually working more efficiently. If I came into work with a bad attitude, it's more than likely that my job performance would suffer that day. I know from experience. By discouraging "grumpiness" at work, the germans are effectively forcing their workers to focus on the positives of their job, and take pride in their job, unless it really is that bad of a job. I would think that the firm's micromanagers should use positive reinforcement from time to time, aside from promotions and pay raises, to help workers have a better attitude at work, and in effect, become a more efficient work force.




David Wyant

Hagar the Horrible said...

Well, I would say that this extends into the sphere of personal freedom. There is always a thin line between attributes that are essential to a job and discrimination. Is it okay for a waiter in an Indian restaurant to be Asian American? Why do all the hippies work at Ben & Jerry's and all the wanna-be yuppies at Starbucks (the real yuppies work at Morgan Stanley)?

Intervention _can_ cause distortions. Forbidding grumpiness can deter perfectly efficient employees (formally, their marginal revenue product of labor is higher than the wage rate) from a job. In that sense I agree with Elisabeth that if management, for whatever reason, wants to see more happiness it might be better -- both ethically because of personal freedom and from the bottom line -- to create conditions for workers to be more content.

I do, by the way, tend to reject the whole "happier workers create a better product" hypothesis. Where do you think garments are better made, in China or in Holland?

Richie Rich said...

First off, Hagar The Horrible's comments bout ben and jerries and starbucks is hilarious and this is the most ridiculous title you have come up with yet Mr. Arjona, yet if this affects my grade then i repeal this comment...

Making people smile at work does nothing but limit their freedom to do whatever they want, the more happy the are and not having an over bearing boss paying attention to their "smile factor". By doing so you're making them divert attention from making the product and instead focusing on putting a fake smile on. Not even Ronald McDonald can fake a smile in a work place like that, hes likely to go in and start shooting after a week or two of forced smiling.Instead of using that time they would use to focus on acting happy, give them more free time so they will naturally be happier as i agree with Elizabeth that being happy means a better product, but its gotta come naturally.

As for the Office Space analogy, Flare would just aggrivate me so much. Where its at is some jump to conclusions mats. We dont need management in the work place, we need to put all the focus on the employees. When they have a tough decision... dont ask ur boss... look at the jump to conclusions mat and jump to a conclusion instead. Grabbing a window seat by the squirrels outside would also speed along the day...

Chase Croft

Anonymous said...

I think that being forced to smile would make my mood worse. You can't make me do something as stupid as smiling constantly and not expect me to hate whoever came up with that. Wanting happy employees is fine, but that is not only not a good way to do it, its a way to annoy them, which pretty much results in the opposite of happiness. There are much better ways to get people to be congenial, like money, or stupid little things like better coffee and food in the break room. You can say you're fine and smile all the time when someone asks how you are, but all you're going to think about is how you aren't happy instead of your work. This, in my opinion, is a dumb idea.
-Andrew Gelly

Anonymous said...

I think the company has a good idea when they told the workers to leave complaints and gripes about co-workers and work conditions at home, but always smiling is really pushing it. Unfortunately, leaving emotions at home is kind of impossible. It certainly would produce a more efficient workplace if nobody ever wasted time thinking about how annoying Jimmy's voice is or gossiping about the hot love affair in the cubical down the hall, but who would want to work in a place where all the exciting stuff is banned. Outlawing everything but happiness makes work even more boring. Come on people don't lie, it makes us all happy to see other people get mad when they spill a drink on their shirt or bend over and rip their pants. So, by allowing people to show all emotions it could boost the moral of his/her co-workers which would inturn lead to better production. Hey its just a thought.

Brian Berkowitz

Kind Kimberly Burky said...

well first off... im going to get my complaint off that im pissed this is due on thursday instead of sunday. now that im not grumpy... ill comment :) <-- do you see the irony? IM HILARIOUS!

Honestly, being in a positive mood about your work makes the work so much more effortless. If you do not "witch and moan" about your duties, they are more pleasant. So this policy seems economically efficient! I do believe that happier people produce a better product. THus, I LIKE IT... I LIKE IT A LOT!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Brian. I think that exciting things, like people getting mad at each other or new gossip, make a work place interesting. These distractions might make the company a little less efficient, but I think that they also can ease tension in the office much better than a rule that makes people smile constantly. I know that if I was having a really bad day, and I had to come to work and put on a fake smile, I would be perturbed.

What if something terrible happens in your life? Are you still required to smile at work even though you are really upset? For example, say someone in you family dies, this rule would probably make you dread coming back to work because when you are explaining what happened, you still have to be cheerful and smile. I really liked Andrew’s idea that people who wake up feeling grumpy should take a sick day.

I think that the company might be underestimating the attitudes of their workers too. Their workers might already be happy, but they actually might become grumpier because they are not given the right to choose if they want to smile or not. On the other hand, if people were really unhappy with this rule, they would leave the company. So, in a way, they actually do have the choice to smile or not. I think that there are better ways to have happier employees than to impose this ridiculous rule on them. The could post jokes around the office or have all of the employees nominate the “Happiest Employee of the Month” who would get something special, maybe a day off or a close parking space.

- Jessica Monk

Anonymous said...

I love this idea! haha what a cute way of getting people to not complain...

but ya i agree with kimberly in that when people are optimistic their work is better. They people tend to be easier to work with and it would take alot of pressure off things. But to comment on the fake happiness idea... i dont necessarily think you are forcing people to be happy but just getting people to stop being whiny and annoying...
-kelly gaetano

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kimberly in the fact that it is always better to have happy workers! Their attitudes can definately affect their business and i think it is a good policy...now if someone was fired for for not smiling or for snapping at an obnoxious co-worker, i think thats a little too much. But other than that, i think it is a good policy.
courtney

Brian Zabell said...

I'm glad people got the Office Space reference but was hoping the ninja reference would get noticed too :P

/too obscure?

Anonymous said...

I think a “no grumpiness” rule would ultimately be a bad idea for the company. I agree with Andrew, as it would restrict the freedom of the workers to act how they want, as they would have to conform to something they may not want to do. I know that if I came to work in a crappy mood and my boss told me to put on a smile and “act” like I was in a good mood, I’d probably be even more annoyed. There are other ways to keep your employees happy, such as providing extra benefits, increasing wages for the workers that do their jobs efficiently, and having extra perks such as Casual Friday and free coffee and doughnuts. Making your employees turn into robots who all act the same way isn’t the best way to run a company.

-Ravi Bhatia

Nic Neinken said...

This is a bad idea. It would cause people to hate their work place causing them to hate work. Who wants to be in a place where everyone is always happy? First off it's inhumane. Everyone has a bad day now and then. Second forcing people to come to work in a positive demeanor is stupid. There are ways around making unhappiness unlawful. They could add a lounge, or they could frown upon talking about other cowerkers in a negative manner. In the end people will have their bad days and the company needs to deal with it.

Sam Ulrich said...

This policy is a terrible idea. It can be compared with compound interest. One day someone hates their work, the next they hate their work and they hate having to smile and more and more things just accrue on and on. My last job, American Adventures, was very "guest friendly" but you could always tell the workers who were new from the workers who had been there a while. The new ones still had either a bright smile or a glimmer in their eye, while the more experienced ones were like creatures at the zoo where the happiness had been sucked out of them. It physically hurts to smile for a constant day too.