J.G. Bennett was a man of many talents — a mathematician, scientist, technologist and industrial research director.

But he's better known as a philosopher and mystic — and IMHO, the author of one of the most pertinent quotes about the workplace.

”If you have an unpleasant nature and dislike people, this is no obstacle to Work.”

Bennett, of course, wasn’t actually referring to work in the sense of going to the office. But, hey, close enough.

Can't We Just Be Friends?

For years, through real jobs and temporary ones, in interactions with colleagues and bosses, in visits to doctors and lawyers and psychiatrists (that's a story for another day), I've clung to Bennett's observation to justify the receipt of all kinds of rude behavior.

Based on my observation of people in the workplace, Bennett was a genius.

Workplaces are filled with chronic complainers and volatile moods. We’re stressed, sleepy, overworked and edgy. So much for employee engagement …

But Not So Fast, Crabby Pants

Tim Eisenhauer, President of San Diego-based Axero Solutions, said there is a major difference between engaged employees and those simply going through the motions. It all comes down to the relationship and communication between managers and their employees.

His point: If there’s a lack of communication and motivation, engagement levels suffer. If engagement levels suffer, so will your business. 


So dig out a copy of I’m OK – You’re OK, refresh yourself on some basic communication skills and do something — anything — to counterbalance those people with an unpleasant nature in your workplace.  

Increase workplace happiness, boost employee engagement.

Why bother? Ah, because a lot of unfortunate things will happen if you don't. According to Eisenhauer, there are at least 15 fundamental problems linked to employee disengagement.

  1. Dissatisfied Employees: Few people are eager to work in a boring, stagnant and disengaged workplace. If you don't have a good bond with your employees, they won't have a good bond with their work.
  2. High Turnover: People who don't feel connected to their work have little reason to stick around. If offered a position elsewhere, they're going to take it.
  3. Money, Money, Money: According to Deloitte, federal agencies lose $65 billion a year as a result of employee disengagement. How much are you losing?
  4. Low Productivity: Managers often use productivity as a benchmark when evaluating employees. But productivity suffers if employee engagement falls apart.
  5. One Disengaged Employee Breeds Another: Bad attitudes rub off on people, and things will get worse if you don't address the issue immediately.
  6. Poor Collaboration: Disengaged employees withdraw and avoid working with each other.
  7. Employee Input Disappears: Nobody wants to make suggestions if they don't feel connected to their job.
  8. Sales Fall: If you want your sales rates to soar, the team needs to feel content in their environment. Otherwise, employee engagement levels are going to fall, and sales are going to suffer too.
  9. Customer Service Suffers: Disengaged employees don't care about your customers. And today's customers don't have the time or inclination to deal with poor customer service. They'll go elsewhere without looking back.
  10. High Absenteeism: When employees don't show up to work on a regular basis, you know there's a problem.
  11. Company Culture Plummets: For a company to have its own unique vibe, employees need to feel positive and engaged in their work. There's nothing worse than a boring, run of the mill company with no sense of individuality.  
  12. Employees Stop Trying: Learning new skills requires motivation ... motivation that comes from high engagement levels. It's not that disengaged employees can't get better; they just don't want to.
  13. Disengaged Employees are Unmanageable: If your staff is disengaged, they will go against everything you say. They'll drag their feet. And they'll disrupt positive energy in the workplace.
  14. Disengaged Employees Make Costly Mistakes: They don't care enough to focus their attention on the details.
  15. Poor Quality Products and Services: Great products and services come from great employees, which is why you should hire the right people in the first place. But, even the strongest employees will fail to produce when suffering from employee disengagement.

Title image by Ryan McGuire