Are fun activities in office environments more a smokescreen for poor management than anything else?

British researchers have conducted a survey of work practices that indicates that fun driven offices are often indicative of a ‘papering over the cracks’ approach to morale-sapping labor. The survey was conducted in an Australian call center, easily one of the most inhospitable work environments as far as morale is concerned. The company adopts a faux fun approach with an emphasis on youthful and exuberant staff, but nearly half the employees felt that the need to maintain a constantly cheerful facade added to the burden of an already difficult job.

[With respect to policy] one HR manager made the telling admission that “we need to make up for the kind of work that is done here.” The researchers conclude that by this account, the company does alright, having their monotonous, wearing work completed, and escaping any real backlash by buying the employees off with a facsimile of social life. The young employees do less well. As we see, some are disillusioned that the promises don’t line up with reality. Others may be drawn into dependency, as they’ve been encouraged to draw their social world from the same well as their pay-check.

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