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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:43 am 
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I came across this interesting article about how a certain fast food chain has a policy of enforcing cheerfulness in the workplace. I mean, most retailers train their staff to "Smile!" and that "The customer is always right", but where this fast food chain gets interesting is that it actually pays its staff bonuses based on their perceived level of cheerfulness, as opposed to say, the volume of their sales. Moreover, the bonuses are awarded through random spot-checks by a mystery shoppers; one bad report on an employee means the whole team doesn't get a bonus for that week. This naturally gives the employees strong incentives to appear cheerful at all times.

I also found some research showing that workers who are required to fake happiness for long periods of time (e.g. long-haul flight attendants who can't get away from the passengers) experience greater levels of stress, burnout, and may be more prone to depression and heart disease.

To what extent is it OK for employers to require (the appearance of) happiness in the workplace? I mean, some of it is unavoidable because nobody wants to be served by a grouchy shop assistant, but should employers dole out rewards or penalties based on emoting? And is it reasonable to expect customer service people to appear friendly and enthusiastic at all times (beyond just being polite and efficient)?

And how about "mandatory fun" activities in workplaces that aren't all about dealing with the public? For example, companies that try to build a culture of fun in the workplace to improve employee morale, with office parties or team-building activities, where opting out means that you are not a "good team player"?

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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:24 pm 
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please tell me that the fast food chain is Sonic because I am about to go make someone lose their bonus.

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 Post Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:01 pm 
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I may have something to say about cheerfulness later, but mandatory fun sucks.

IT SUCKS. I hate attending stupid barbecues with co workers I see every day, trying to make awkward conversation about after hours subjects and interests which we do not share. I hate having to put on a show at dinner when what I'd really like to do at that time of day is unwind with people I choose to be friends with. I hate making sure I don't order too much alcohol so I appear to be a lush, though actually I just have a high tolerance and enjoy the taste of certain wines with my meal. And I hate how fake it is.

Fun at work is much more relaxing. Encouraging friendliness among staff by allowing people to hang up things or chat with each other is far better policy than making sure we're meeting up once a month outside work.

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 Post Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:00 am 
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I'm okay with having company get-togethers, but if they're mandatory they'd better be during work hours. My company is actually encouraging people to form smaller groups that have common interests. I think this works a lot better because people self-select for them. A group of us here like playing Ingress, so we've organized a once-a-week lunchtime raid on portals at a local park.

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 Post Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:05 pm 
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My company used to do a family Christmas party where the kids got presents and could do activities and watch Santa come to the hangar in a jet. When we got purchased by the new company that all stopped. It was more like a family then. Now... well let's just say the family element is long gone.

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