Op-ed pick: Workplace discontent is not mainly about your paycheck, it’s about the boss

We did a show Thursday about worker disengagement. Here are some of the comments from the audience:

When you’re underpaid (compared to others with similar skills) you’re always looking around for another opportunity, the search is always in the back of your mind and employees will be discussing other job opportunities. It is funny how businesses attempt to improve morale with idiotic ideas like a free pizza day or a company picnic.

I work for an international company that is very mico-managed by directors not on site. Employee morale is very low. General manager was known to purport that he didn’t care if employees were unhappy. He regarded them as unskilled labor and were “a dime a dozen.”

My too-big-to-fail bank employer gutted our benefits, slashed our operating budgets, froze hiring, increased expectations, then laid off my co-workers. So no, I don’t feel very excited about my job.

The hour was inspired by a new survey from Gallup, State of the American Workplace.

Timothy Egan pored over the same study and says, in the New York Times, that the main culprit is The Boss.

Regular praise, opportunity for growth, and the occasional question from a higher-up of a lower-down about how to improve things would go a long way toward getting the checked-out to check back in, the study found. Among those who loathe their jobs most, 57 percent said they were ignored at work, and 41 percent said they couldn’t even say what their company stood for. As such, there’s no mystery why customer service is so bad, or being farmed out to robots.

Gallup says that this discontent is easily solved: Hire managers who will successfully manage people.

Instead of using management jobs as promotional prizes for all career paths, companies should treat these roles as unique with distinct functional demands that require a specific talent set. They should select managers with the right talents for supporting, positioning, empowering, and engaging their staff.

Read all of Egan’s column.

Listen back to our show.

Watch KARE-11’s story about the Gallup study.