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We've integrated our blog (the former and our website (which we've had since 1997!) into one Internet location, at

Now, from one site, you can read - and comment on - our blog, learn about what we do, buy our books, and hire us to speak for, train, or consult with your organization.

Help us out - get a free book!

The new has been upgraded from a legacy site that has existed for more than 12 years. While we've been through a rigorous quality control process on the new site, we suspect there might be a few kinks left to work out.

So please, peruse the website, at If you find any broken links (resulting in the dreaded 404 error message), notify us by email, at, and we'll send you a copy of our most recent book, Contented Cows Moove Faster, absolutely free.


Part 2 of 2: Unhappy Workers: Why it Matters, and How to Fix It
By Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden

In the last issue we wrote about the epidemic of worker dissatisfaction in the US, as reported in a Conference Board study. In that post, we offered some initial thoughts on why workers are so unhappy these days, why it matters, and what to do about it. The first two reasons we gave were:
1. Workers have a diminished sense of meaningfulness in their jobs.
2. One word: micromanagement.

Here are 4 more reasons (with some suggested solutions), and a concluding thought:

Undifferentiated rewards: As companies have shrunk their merit budgets and bonuses, AND as the stock market is down for an entire DECADE (thus reducing the value of option grants), we have experienced tremendous reward destruction and compression in which the distinction between stars and slugs (Bill's terms) has become negligible. Thus, weve experienced a drop in satisfaction that touches all, including our best performing people.

What to do: When you see good performance, reward it. Then and there. Start with "Thank You." Then, find a way, and a big enough way to get the persons attention. Rather than adding to fixed payroll expense, consider gifting an award trip, extra time off, or some other gift that really means something to the individual. Worry less about being consistent than sending a message that excellence is meaningfully rewarded.

Pocket pain: Specifically, health care. Concurrent with less-than-exciting (or nonexistent) pay increases, U.S. workers are paying more for health care, owing to a non-system that has seen costs more than double over the last decade. Employers who offer health care benefits have no choice but share the increasing cost. While currently proposed legislation solves some of the problems, it does little for the biggest problem - controlling costs. Take that, plus the increasing number of workers who have no health care benefits at work, and youve got a workforce paying higher premiums, higher out of pocket costs, no realistic solutions on the horizon, AND the increased worry that accompanies having no safety net. Yikes.

What to do: Turn off the TV! Get the facts. Read, starting with Regina Herzlinger's Who Killed Healthcare?. Discuss the matter with your own physician. Consider establishing, along with like-minded neighboring employers, a private or co-op clinic, as organizations like SAS and the Pebble Beach Company have done. Heavily incent workers, using both positive and negative consequences, to better manage their health. Advocate forcefully for better public policy.

Diminished employment options: The recession, paired with the continued unbundling (and offshoring) of work have drastically reduced the number and scope of available jobs. Moreover, any stigmas or pangs of guilt on the part of management associated with reducing heads in the workplace have disappeared. Witness simultaneous announcements by United Parcel Service last month that the company was, 1) increasing earnings guidance due to favorable business conditions, and 2) Doing a restructuring that would eliminate nearly 2,000 jobs. People who once were assured that, even if they didnt like their current job, could quickly find another now arent as comforted by their options.

What to do: Tune in. Let your people know where they stand and how the business is doing - truthfully and regularly. If you're through making cuts, say so. Monitor and nurture your employment brand as carefully as you do your cash. That may also mean managing people out of the organization (with consideration and decency) who have unplugged and are merely hanging on because they don't see any options.

The dumbing down of the workplace: The first shoe to drop whenever earnings take a hit, or the economy contracts, falls on the organizations training budget. We are now in the 3rd year of greatly diminished funding, to include training for managers. To wit, people now find themselves in the unenviable position of working for (and with) less skilled managers. Not a happy thought.

What to do: Take this opportunity to get the jump on your competition. Begin selectively restarting your development activities, with a careful eye for the real priorities. If you can't yet afford systemic efforts, fund development initiatives (i.e., executive coaching) for worthy staff. Incent workers (using time off or a skill acquisition bonus) to invest in their own development plans, rather than just taking whatever comes from corporate.

One last thought  and pardon what sounds like a negative tone here: Dissatisfaction isnt confined to the workplace. The decade of the 00s is one that most people in the U.S., if not elsewhere, were glad to put in the rear view mirror. We think its safe to say that many (if not most) of us feel less well off, less secure, and yes, less satisfied than at any time in our lives. To think that these feelings dont make their way into the workplace is delusional.

That said, maybe its time to reboot this whole idea of leadership and motivation in the workplace. Not to throw it out, but to reload the program, under a new set of conditions, a new reality, for a new and better future. It is for that reason that together with our friend and colleague, Meredith Kimbell, we have been working for the better part of a year on a new book, Rebooting Leadership, due for publication in May of this year. Watch this space for more.

Meanwhile, buck up, and Godspeed!

Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door
Harvey MacKay, the #1 NY Times Bestselling author of such classics as Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need has just come out with his latest book, Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You.

Read more about this great new book, and, a bunch of really cool offers from Harvey, including a 6-month money-back guarantee on finding a job, by clicking here, to go to a page on the new

We administer employee satisfaction surveys, and analyze, interpret, and present the results to your leadership team.

Especially in times like these, no organization can afford to operate without the full engagement of everyone on the payroll.

Our turnkey process provides a valuable and affordable way for you to measure your organization's effectiveness in the view of those who fuel your business with their effort, labor, and commitment.

Visit us online, or simply contact us, to learn more about our survey process and how it can help to make your workforce a powerful competitive weapon.

Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden
No company can perform well in a still-shaky economy without the full and willing engagement of a focused, fired-up, and capably led workforce. If you want to learn how to turn your workforce into a powerful competitive weapon, invite Bill Catlette or Richard Hadden in to speak or conduct leadership training for your organization, or to keynote your association's next convention. Contact Bill (901- 853-9646) or Richard (904-720-0870), and let's talk about how we can make your next meeting a colossal success!

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Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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