Has your LA engaged the services of a " funsultant" to advise on how to make the workforce more positive? Have you come across a job advert for the post of " happiness officer". If LA stood for Los Angeles rather than Local Authority then you undoubtably would be familiar with the typically wacky approach to job satisfaction and employee relations in California. Our approach may be more restrained but we are also concerned about staff morale, well being and tackling negativity. 

It is a management cliche to say happy staff are productive staff. Having said that low morale doesn't necessarily led to poor performance. As an ex social worker I know that however undervalued you felt the profession was, however out of touch senior management was and however unappreciative your line manager was you were still committed to doing the best for your client. I am sure there are plenty of teachers, nurses, doctors and a range of public sector employees who are demoralised by the prospect of further budget cuts, reorganisations and mergers to say nothing of enforced changes to their working conditions and yet their commitment to doing a good job remains. 

It is true that managers particularly senior managers don't like negativity they want can do not can't do, after all there job is manage change. So senior mangers don't like to be told why something won't work or that things are not going to plan.This can led to middle managers thinking they can only give good news even when the news is not good. Enforced positivity if it means uncritical acceptance, no questioning, carry on regardless will result in a gap between policy and reality that gets wider until the inevitable crisis exposes it. 

The research and experience tells us people don't like uncertainty, respond well to good line management  and want to be freed up to get on with the job not tied down by form filling and responding to length emails. So avoid restructuring, mergers and management initiates that are time consuming and distracting, add management development and you will have a happy and content work force. If only. 

Restructuring and mergers are inevitable in the current financial climate and those senior management initiatives which involve long emails, requests for info and working groups are about issues like equal opportunities, staff/ customer engagement, service improvement and improving the quality of management. Issues which staff are keen to see addressed. 

So maybe we don't need a happiness officers just good quality line managers. 


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