No Joy in Mudville: The Striking Out of an Unhappy Workforce


As a Human Performance Technologist consultant, I cannot help but lean toward subjects that involve the human element in workforce development. This means that lately, I have been preoccupied with the general feeling that we all have been striking out in trying to restart our workforce in both Michigan and abroad.

I was recently reading some compelling studies on human governance, job satisfaction, and leadership in corporate America that really resonated with me. A national consumer employment survey conducted by Harris Interactive revealed that “nearly four out of five U.S. workers (84%) are not currently in their dream job.” The report cites the following reasons for job dissatisfaction:

    • Increased job insecurity
    • Increased performance demands
    • Enhanced awareness of alternative types of work environments (e.g. telecommuting)
    • Global cultural diversity with little organizational support
    • A faster pace of change in the workplace

These external factors are taking their toll on all workers and the result is general unhappiness. Employers have sacrificed their employees’ well-being and lost their business performance in the process.

These key indicators in the 21st-century workplace demonstrate that “business-as-usual” isn’t working. Corporations are beginning to realize that traditional, stratified, structured business systems, built to meet the requirements of customers and business at large are rapidly becoming antiquated. The bad economy has torn these monoliths down and new leaders are looking for newer, better ways to rebuild their organizations with a modern workforce.

By a modern workforce, I mean one that is built on a foundation of human interaction (or governance) as opposed to previous organizational strategies based upon control and compliance. Right now, academics are trying to drive this concept of human governance down into the business world. The basic concept states that,

“Human governance represents the idea that certain human values are eternally true, transcending man-made rules and regulations.”

This means that modern organizations will take into account an individual employee’s aspirations, goals, and capabilities, using these motivators as performance drivers toward the overall business strategy and success of the company.

In a recent International Society of Performance Improvement article titled “Human Governance: A Neglected Mantra for Continuous Performance Improvement,” the authors noted that “every individual should be entrusted with an internal driver to strive their best towards achieving their potential and to manage their performance through innovative means. This can only be reached under circumstances where abstract human values and principles are recognized and indoctrinated into the work culture.”

Employers hold all of the cards. That means that need to re-focus their energies on attracting and recruiting talent based upon both candidate’s skills and personal motivators. Initially, successful businesses will have to hire leaders that embrace some concept of human governance, acknowledging that true business performance is driven from within the hearts and minds of the workforce.

The companies that invest in these modern, innovative approaches for workforce development will be the big winners. These are the business leaders that will hit home runs and bring the joy back to the worker, the team, the company, and eventually, Mudville.

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