Employee happiness and short-sighted bosses all over the U.S. are on my mind lately.  I currently work for myself and have been the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, but the life of a freelance writer may not be for everyone.  If you’re happy to just have a job right now, it doesn’t mean you should be treated like dirt.  But it seems to me that’s exactly what’s going on.  As this “economic recovery” plods along,  companies are sitting on piles of cash while squeezing every ounce of efficiency and productivity out of their supposedly valued talent.

A Florida State University Study (released in the Fall 2007 Issue of Leadership Quarterly) stated that a staggering 40% of us work for bad bosses.  I can only imagine that this number has increased over the past three years.

This frustrates me.   If you can’t compensate your best employees to the degree that they deserve, or hire new ones, then find alternate ways to make them enjoy working for you.  Inspiring passion and loyalty for your company is the greatest gift you can give them.  It also costs nothing!

Passion is the “ultimate productivity tool,” according to a recent article from WebWorker Daily.  The article notes, “when you’re passionate, your love is for doing the work, not for the shiny equipment, shortcuts or dental plan that comes with it.”  It’s something that comes entirely within and is formed out of an almost selfless desire to see your company succeed.

Passion can, of course, be a double-edged sword.  There’s a reason that William Butler Yeats wrote in “The Second Coming” that “the worst are full of passionate intensity,” because he could see passion at work behind the rise of fascist ideologies.  And some employees can become passionate to the degree that they become reckless and cause damage to your brand through their misplaced zeal.

But passion, when properly channeled, can be a beautiful thing. It results in top employees acting as unpaid evangelists for you and your brand, and truly enjoying their work.  You can help inspire passion by following the steps I mentioned in my last blog post, by allowing them greater freedom over their work and easing tight deadlines.

Not by micro-managing them, demoralizing them, talking down to them, or dismissing their ideas.

Or … just watch this brilliant video about what really motivates people, adapted from Dan Pink’s speech:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

I have two other videos I’d like to share.  One is from the excellent film, “Runaway Train,” which concerns a jail break by Oscar Manheim (played by Jon Voight) and Buck (played by Eric Roberts).  Voight’s character is a hardened and violent career criminal.  But in one scene, he explains how life might have been different if he could knuckle under to a bad boss.

The second is Metallica’s video, “King Nothing,” about a person that cannot be pacified by anything, and whose greed leaves him with zilch.   “Where’s your crown, King Nothing?”

Both are presented below.  Draw your own conclusions, my friends.

The Little Bitty Spot Speech from Runaway Train

King Nothing by Metallica

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