Is your workplace unhappy? Get my book for free!

Happy Hour is 9 to 5It’s time to give away 50 100 more copies of my book about happiness at work. Last time it was a simple Christmas blogger give-away, this time I’m giving it to the people who need it the most: Those stuck in unhappy workplaces.

Here are the rules:

  1. If you work in an unhappy workplace, you’re eligible. It doesn’t need to be hell on earth, but it has to be fairly unpleasant :o)
  2. You must write a comment on this post and tell me what you think makes your workplace unhappy. You don’t have to name the company if you don’t want to, but remember to leave a real email-address or I won’t be able to send you a book.
  3. The first 50 100 commenters get a free pdf-copy of my book Happy Hour is 9 to 5 – AND MAY GIVE IT TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS THEY WANT TO, INSIDE THEIR COMPANY. Who knows, it might even help :o)

Just this once, it pays to work in a place that sucks :o)

UPDATE: Whoa, that was fast – in less than a day, 50 people from unhappy workplaces signed up for a book. You leave me no choice but to up the ante and give away 100 books. I won’t be extending it beyond that, so hurry up and sign up!!

UPDATE 2: That’s it folks. 100 people signed up for the book and I’ve closed comments on the post. I’ll mail out the books this weekend.

UPDATE 3: The books have now been emailed. If you signed up and didn’t get your copy send me an email and we’ll fix it. Happy reading – I hope this will help some unhappy workplaces :o)

103 thoughts on “Is your workplace unhappy? Get my book for free!”

  1. It’s the term resources…. managers should know to distinguish between animate and inanimate resources.

  2. I work for a major bank that buys smaller banks and integrates them. I think the dollar-value size of these transactions is so huge that my colleagues and I feel lost. The gap between the business owners and the workers is so staggering you can’t even think about, yet you work there, so you do.

    On my blog I wrote about how at one bank last year, the CEO received $50 million as a BONUS. For that year. How can I look at my bonus cheque and feel happy about it?

  3. Good Morning :-)))))
    My company is in the process of integration of two different telecomunication companies and though it may not be called an unhappy company there’s a lot of areas where some GOOD ideas like those in your book could be very inspiring.

    The situations on melting two different working cultures results in a lot of unhappy employees who think their “way of life” is being “erased”..

    I would be very grateful if i could spread your ideas through out my company…

    I’m the happy one.. ;-)


  4. Good Morning,

    The managers should know how to motivate a knowledge worker. And not try to do it the old school way.


  5. I work for a large publicly funded organization with a strong internal culture that has suffered through waves of cutbacks and reorgs over the past 20 years, and has had appointed a succession of senior managers with little or no experience in our core activity (but plenty in patronage and bureaucracy).

    The result has been demoralizing for many of us, as persistent waste and wrongheadedness have taken in us in every piddly direction except, arguably, the one specified in our mandate and in the founding vision of our corporation.

    Certain senior executives have loudly complained that we all seem to living in and celebrating ‘the past’ (which is characterized by many moments of true greatness) rather than embracing their ‘present’ (which is blanketed with a thick fog of mediocrity, confusion and ineptitude). More and more it seems like the choices put before us are a) leave; or b) submit in a zombie-like fashion to their irrational whims and self-hypnotizing happy talk while trying to do the best job we can within the funhouse-mirror version of our mission and attempting to maintain at least a shred of our individual and collective dignities.

    It’s not easy.

  6. Good evening from Down Under.

    Working in a design studio has left me tired and grouchy for many weeks. That said, being in front of the computer screen the whole day doesn’t help much but I realised the cause of my unhappines at work.

    My working environment. My table was bright red behind a blue background which caused the tiredness I have at work. Now it’s all wrapped up in a cream-colored paper. Amen.

  7. I’ve worked for a particular Fortune 100 company for the last six years and have seen the way employees are treated steadily deteriorate. Last month we got to move to a “better” office only to find out the cubes are smaller, shorter and noisier. It’s a lot harder to concentrate and get tasks done now due to the increased distractions. We were also told only 1 or 2 person items are allowed in these new cubes. Funding for training has been completely cut. I’ve had to spend my own money for a new monitor to help with the arthritis in my neck since “the budget won’t allow it”.

    We had another record breaking year, but yet the bonuses and raises are even lower. In fact we’re supposed to make even more cuts this year! We all know the executives are making even bigger bonuses due to our sacrifices and it really hurts. Benefit cuts are actually put through the spin machine to make them sound like better benefits! Employees are no longer assets, but a liability to the bottom line.

    Honestly it’s difficult to drag myself out of bed every morning to go into work. I’m interviewing with a small company right now and really hope I get the job. I have a friend there and they really value their employees. Here’s hoping the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train!

  8. I work as an Administrator for a Medium sized Charity in the UK.

    Us ‘underlings’ are constantly demotivated through a lack of direction and opportunity in the organisation. Myself and my colleagues work well beyond the limited parameters of our job decription, often providing cut-price design and database solutions for a company that is unwilling to reward such innovations but doesn’t mind you coming up with ideas.

    I long to be given the flexibility to pursue areas which would benefit the organisation but am reigned in. There is nothing more frustrating than being willing and enthusiastic to develop areas in which interest you only to be told that it’s not your job.

  9. Upper management micromanages in an extreme way. They also play mind games with the staff. They direct you to do one thing, then ask you why you did it. They tell you to manage staff in a specific way. Then listen to your staff complain and turn things right back around to make themselves look good.


  10. Working in a multionational, that is discussing the outsourcing of a special service organization with around 1000 people worldwide. The discussions are going for three years now, rumours are goind around and the people affected by these discussions are feed up with it.

  11. Hmmm….where do I begin:

    1) When you are told that your department is just a ‘cost’
    2) You can never get co-workers to believe you when you’re explaining a problem to them that they are not experts in. They will openly tell you that you must be wrong, and that your assessment can’t be right.
    3) Conflicting priorities from everyone (gotta love the flat management structure, I have 10 bosses)
    4) Bait-and-switch during interview – Hours are flexible….oops! We need you here from 7:45 to 5
    5) Taking an hour to go to a dental appointment requires taking a whole day off, since there is concern about ‘making up the time’. Hello, there’s this thing called a computer that I can use to get work done while I am outside the office.
    6) Bosses who badmouth you to their own internal group, but are nice to you when they see you….once every three months
    7) People who are openly and widely known as assholes are given wide latitude to degrade folks at will.
    8) When making a complaint, it is preferred that you be nasty to people to get what you want. Niceness is seen as a weakness.
    9) Micromanaging and manipulation are preferred over honesty and transparency, and seen as effective tools.
    10) Being that your department is just a cost, you are treated like a second-class citizen.

  12. Alex,
    I am a fairly optimistic person, and the place where I work is no where near the worst place I’ve ever worked. However, it amazes me that some people drag around as though they’re in constant mourning. I’ve literally never seen some people smile. I believe whole-heartedly that it is people’s ATTITUDES that make or break their experience at work. Yes, bad bosses can make life miserable, but you can have a great boss and have a bad attitude and think the world is out to get you!

    When listen to people talk about their experiences in other departments in our organization this is what I hear:
    1. Staff are chained to their desks – they can only take the briefest of lunches
    2. Staff are not permitted to attend professional development workshops – not at lunch time, not for 1/2 day and heaven forbid not for a full day
    3. Staff are not given significant raises, while the top admin always seem to be given a big piece of the pie
    4. Staff are asked to work overtime without compensation – which is illegal by the way!
    5. Staff opinions may be listened to, but they are not acted upon often enough to make staff feel that their opinion matters

    These issues contribute to low staff morale.

  13. I work at a small office consisting of 15 women. There is so much bickering and people hold grudges for what seems like years. My boss doesn’t have the guts to stand up to one person who is starting to become a bully. One person is leaving (not because of the office, just a better opportunity), and the rest of the office has fallen into chaos. We really need some inspiration.

  14. Part of a company in the process of closing down, (and suffering from 4 (but legal) and 5 above).

    Not a lot of happy people at the moment…

  15. I’m one of three employees at the company. I’ve supposedly got “founders rights” but I still feel like an employee. I don’t get a clear picture of how I’m doing, and of what I can do to improve that.

    My review was “You’re doing well, and we’re happy with you, but….” and a litany of IMHO pretty serious deficiencies followed. So there’s some mixed messages being given. If you perceive all of these issues, then I’m not living up to my own standards. But at the same time “you’re very happy with me” Could it be that losing me would mean losing a third of the company? *sigh*

    Who knows.

  16. Before you read any of this, realize that I work for an HR Consulting firm. It is OUR job to tell clients what they need to do to improve morale at their companies. This is what happens at ours:

    1. Favoritism is rampant in our organization. The CEO practices it himself. The reverse is even worse. If he doesn’t like you, or you do something he doesn’t like, he will ALWAYS publicly humiliate you.

    2. We are promised bonuses for certain levels of performance. However, those levels change depending on how many people hit the mark. If too many people hit the mark, the requirements change so that less people will get the bonus. Also, the managers are often told to find things that would take employees out of “good standing” so that they will receive no bonus.

    3. The HR Director is also in charge of accounting AND our admin department. It is a rather large conflict of interest, especially as she hires friends to fill the positions in admin and covers up their incompetence. Most people in admin are very abusive to new employees in that department, but the HR Director won’t do anything about it because the abusive people are friends of hers.

    4. If you are critical of one of the CEO’s ideas, he will berate you and tell you how wrong you are. Even if it is something such as, paying our independant contractors within a sufficient time frame.

    5. We get yelled at for having larger print runs than our monthly allotment. (We also print surveys and have a monthly allotment before we have to pay extra on the maintenance contract.) The funny thing is, we are printing more because we’re bringing in more business.

    6. Everytime we try to do anything creative, i.e. sprucing up our reports or what not, it gets instantly shot down.

    There’s actually a lot more…I just didn’t want this to get too long.

    Needless to say, staff is pretty unhappy.

  17. I think my workplace makes me unhappy because of the people there…
    I have to do the same tasks all day, I have to buy food for them and so on…

  18. My work is conducting GED testing. (High-school equivalent, but I’m not sure high school is understood by international readers either. It’s the last level of education you are guaranteed free-of-charge in the USA.) For as many as two hours we can have literally nothing to do except be quiet and attend to the examinee’s needs. (Kleenex, new pencil, etc.). I only have two coworkers at any one time, and one of them gossips about the examinees and reads their essays and berates them for personal problems they reveal in the essays. Also, I actually enjoy administering the exams, but it is only 8 hours a week and I would like to do more, but my supervisor will not tell me who I need to contact within our state government to obtain the necessary permits to go out on my own, and he is unwilling to expand our organization to enable adding additional schools to the testing. :(

  19. Do I have to work at an unhappy company?

    I am trying to make my tiny (3 employees, including me, the boss) company a happy place, but we are in startup mode, so we have no money, everyone is under pressure, and I don’t know what to do to help my people.

    Does that qualify me for a book?

  20. I work for a large Canadian insurance company who was just recently bought another larger Canadian insurance company. The company I originally worked for (before the merger) was great! It had a great culture and was very good to its people (company bbq’s, free daycare, free in-house gym, etc.). The company that bought us treats its employees like robots. Since the buyout, benefits/pension has been cut in half, daycare cost has increased to market levels, no more free gym membership, and there has been very little communication. Most former management at the original company has either left or has been
    “let go”. Every day that I spend in this place is like torture! My life is like the movie “Office Space”……

  21. I work as a Support Manager at a Software Company that has been growing very fast, which is great for the company, yet always not so great for the people.

    I started when the company was small enough for everyone to know each other, and now I see a company where for many people the day can pass without anyone really caring if they were there or not. Also, while the growth is bringing in lots of money for the company, the ordinary workers are failing to see the benefit for them – more customers simply mean more work to them. I can clearly see the gap growing between the head honchos and the ordinary joes, and it

  22. I have my own “one man” music company… I am my own boss…
    The overwhelming freedom isn’t always easy. With freedom comes responsability.
    I can’t say that i’m unhappy. But i would surely like to get some advice on making things “happier” and better :-)

  23. I work in regulatory compliance. When an office shuffles paper for a living, you’d think it would be in their interests to carefully plan the way that paper is shuffled, and to plan for the volume that comes in the door. Instead, it’s crisis mode all the time. Now I hear “this is urgent” and think “you’re crying wolf.” Not good for morale…difficult to get a break.

  24. I recently moved into managing a department of 40, when my last management experience was five years ago managing a staff of six. I want to keep my staff happy and make things fun, and I know I can grow in this area. I appreciate the blog as it serves as a regular reminder that “how” things are done is almost as important as “if” they are done, and hope a that being a “manager-not-trying-to-do-it-hamburger-style” still makes me eligible for a book. Thanks much.

  25. I’m currently looking to hire my first employee in my little web design company. And I want my company to be a great place to work.

    So.. not unhappy – but just proactive about creating a place where people would love to work.

  26. As a student and also a freelance interface designer and journalist I find that in times I feel distracted from my passion which is my work by… life. I really want to keep my thoughts positive in order to insure my studies as well as work continue to grow… So basically I am not unhappy in my work, but I do want to take measures to prevent that happening! Thanks so much!

  27. Hello,
    What makes our workplace a little bit unhappy is lack of color in the office furniture (it’s all gray or drab grey/green) Also, we are located in a terrible part of the city.

  28. We love to have meetings all the time at my company, to speak about “what we’re doing,” rather than actually doing it.

    We can not just walk up to someone and say something. We have to have meetings. We have to “schedule a call.” It’s all very impersonal.

  29. What makes my workplace unhappy is a lack of strategic direction in technologies that I work with directly. The problem seems to be that senior management doesn’t understand how the lack of direction is impacting folks at the ground-level.

  30. My workplace environment has not been redone in 35 years and the space is full of ancient unused things (new supplies are piled with outdated and not thrown away machines) and not very conducive to the current integration of computers in everyday work (no ergonomically correct keyboard, mouse, screen positions, etc).

  31. I have worked at my current place for over 6 years now. When I first started, we were about 40 employees. We eventually grew to about 60. Over time, we were downsized to about 11. We stuck in there and now we are back to about 25. It has been a long, long uncertain period for most of us. Of the original 40, only myself and 2 others are still left. Every day is a struggle for a bunch of us as the official parent company has the kind of demands for the U.S. market that are not correct for the market. The 25 that are here now actually have no idea what is ultimately going to happen to the company as we are doing the work of 50 people and the parent company has gone through another reorganization. We keep hoping.

  32. In general I like my workplace, but unfortunally my boss isn’t that good at giving feedback. Even when I (or someone else) comes up with good ideas of how we could work smarter, be more creative, be more happy we almost never get any feedback. Sometimes even really bad feedback that basically just makes you wan’t to give up thinking up impovements.

    // Johan

  33. Rampant favouritism, a left hand that has NO CLUE what the right is doing, too many cubes jammed in too small a space, trying to do EVERYTHING on the cheap – while the officers drive Porches and Mercedes – you name it.

  34. I’ve been reading this website and applied some of the principles illustrated here to our organizations latest staff retreat and I’m happy to report it was a huge improvement if not a huge success! Thank you for the great spirit, vibe, and ideas you keep generating.

  35. While my workplace is mostly pleasant, I am most displeased when co-workers do not pull their weight or take seriously their responsibilities.

  36. Well, after several jobs, one think that really makes me unhappy is when chiefs in command start spreading information thru different, less open channels. It kind of lowers the confidence in the persons inside the company. Who’s talk to who becames the rule of survival.

  37. Management, management, management. I know that we all need bosses, but I’d like to not be micro-managed. I’d like to not have my opinion asked if it won’t matter, but I’d prefer if my knowledge and expertise were considered. I’d like to not be discriminated against for being young. So what makes this place unhappy? It thrives on contradictions between doctrine and practice. On the surface the organization says that they value innovation, progress, thought, and high quality. When you’re doing the work, they just want the same old thing, even if it doesn’t work. And they really don’t want to figure out how to make it better.

  38. In day to day activities it comes down to handling the balancing act of life in a way that truely supports your short term and long term goals.

  39. What makes our workplace unhappy is the people themselves. Being an expanding business in a service-focused industry means this unhappiness directly effects customer satisfaction; something we have always excelled at (our core clientele have a retention rate of 90%). We are currently planning some special events to bring the team back together again. On a personal note, what makes me unhappy at work is when our staff don’t pull their weight and constantly expect the management to solve every issue (however small).

    Alex, thanks for your excellent insights. The blog is on my daily must-read list!

  40. Unhappiness is knowing that you account for your time down to the minute and reflect as much on your timesheet and your co-worker comes in at 10:30 or 11 a.m. and most recently at 2:30 p.m. and gets away with putting their time in as 9:30.

    Supervisor is so busy with his own thing that he doesn’t even question it… this late-co-worker has vacation time up the wazoo because he never has to use it…

    UGH! Now I’m annoyed all over again.

  41. My work has shifted in the last months from an almost relaxed place, with few meetings (usually one short conference call per week at most) to a hideously over-managed and process-plagued workplace. We work in software development, and many people are actually so busy with those meetings to be able to touch a single line of code… On top of that, the business decision are obviously flawed according to everyone but senior management, so morale is below ground level.

    Thanks a lot for your tips Alex!

  42. I know I am unhappy when I dreamt about deadlines just before I woke up. I woke up feeling lousy and I have an even lousier day! :\

  43. I work daytime in one of the most insane people in the world. The people around me are miserable all the time. This book MAY be what we all need to survive.

  44. I work in a place where the Vice President actually told the entire staff that if we ever dare make any more errors we are to wear a big brown bag named Mr. Errors on our heads, or this bag character is to sit in our office for all to see. How’s that for positive motivation? (Actually, we make very few errors, but, hey, we’re human.)

    Please, we need this book! Thanks.

  45. The general morale of my company is higher than it was a year ago, but still not where it should be. We are a consulting company who’s management doesn’t do what it should to look out for their #1 asset. The People.

    I am looking forward to your book.

  46. Morale is at an all time low at my office. Nepotism reigns, new folks show up with the same job I and others have, but they are making 50 to 100% more salary. Folks who complain get canned, everyone is paranoid and miserable. Job postings are misleading, with job descriptions that don’t reflect the actual position. This is designed to keep us from applying for positions that have been reserved for applicants hand-picked by the inner-circle. I am stressed out of my mind and its effecting every aspect of my life.

  47. On a daily basis, I get a sinking feeling that I am loosing the life in the work-life balance.

  48. There is favoritism and scapegoating at my workplace. All the best people get burned out and eventually leave. Although we are in a health food store, people have been treated in an abusive manner when they are ill, i.e. not allowed to leave to go home or go to the doctor, or when they do call in, the management make very negative and threatening comments about it.

  49. At my organization we have had a mass exodus lately, most recently a group of about 25 people. Individuals are leaving without having another job lined up. The daily conversation at lunch or for drinks after work is how bad the environment is and how bad everyone wants to get out. This is across all of the employees (even high level people) and not just one group in particular.

  50. I work in a very unhappy workplace. A hotel that should be full of FUN and unexpected surprises for the guests. I have worked there 17 years and am a Warrior for FUN. I LOVE your Website as it encapsulates EVERYTHING I have tried to embody there. Yet a very “old school” philosophy of management continues to prevail, as is showed monthly in our guest scores. I would simply LOVE a copy of your book for free. I haven’t given up hope that after all these years I can try to keep trying to change the environment.

  51. I work for a major software development company. The team are full of ideas of how to make the products better and the way they work better but are forced into doing things dictated by sales to chase the next bit of cash. They then have to sit there and listen to complaints from customers about the products they produce. As a result they have started to give up on making the suggestions. To compound matters the drive for money has been such that 6 months ago several people were made redundant from the team. At the time the team said those people were needed for the work to do. 6 months later we are having to recruit to fill those same positions.

    Your website is one of my regular reads. Hopefully I am making a difference for my colleagues – the Monday tips are a great feature as they can usually be done no matter what the business constraints and often brighten up someone else’s day.

  52. what can I say….a lack of support from management that leaves you feeling like there is always an alterior motive behind everything. Not good. Forced down a path without being given due input and constantly being left to make do with too much work and not enough people to get the job done.

    Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy what I do it is just that the environment in which we have to do it is draining and demoralising.

    Love the site and find it informative and a pick me up each monday.

  53. Open office landscapes… The idea is good, in practice it is horrid.

    You can’t talk to your colleagues without disturbing 15 other colleagues, you can’t work effectively because of the noise and people walking around all the time. Oh and management just felt a need to cram in more tables and a lot of cabinets in an already crammed space. Thank god for mp3 players and working from home…

  54. We are expanding fast … which is good.

    But we aren’t expanding staff as fast as business, so everyone is subject to high stress.

  55. We have an unhappy work place.

    We are a separated IT office of a global company, our purpose is to assist and add value to what we’re offering clients and thus do what ever the clients want. There are a number of reasons why we’re unhappy here, I’d say the biggest is the lack of leadership and the procedural mindset that work is approached with here. Requests for a canteen, more flexible hours and upward flow (ideas flowing from developers to management) and exposure to our own company and business have been blocked. The reason given it would seam is that managers are waiting for direction and leadership from bosses who are waiting for regional bosses who are waiting for CIO’s who are waiting for CEOs – It’s an excuse that doesn’t stick because lower management can easily change “low lying fruit” that would make a massive difference.

    There are some other reasons as well but really its that procedural mind set that blocks creativity and enthusiasm of the dynamic people under it and doesn’t empower those minds which is really stopping us from getting into real happiness at work

  56. Hi,

    I work in the public sector in a non-profit educational institution which is currently undergoing af merger of 7 formerly independent institutions into 1.

    The complete lack of leadership, communication and direction from top management all the while denying the workers the ability to make basic needed decisions for the on-going process makes the process it self longwinded, labour intensive beyond need and makes the effort of independent workers on-coordinated.

    This in combination with trying to make ends meet ends in day-to-day business while also trying to prepare for the coming changes makes my work day more then hectic and the future more uncertain then it should be.

    These factors combined makes my current workplace a bad workplace.

    Only mitigating circumstance is the nice colleagues I have.

  57. I should be at a happy work place, at least that is what we are telling each other.It feels so fake when we say that we say that we have such interesting and challenging jobs. I work at a NGO doing good things for the world fighting discrimination. Good on paper but not i daily life.

    I lack energy and motivation. I had it before . I lack constructive feedback, a vision for the five comming years, a set shorttemt target, a leading will and vision, a boss who is

  58. I work within an organisation with strong brand which is currently within a period of major change and integration.
    The result of this in certan areas has devlivered a unhappy work force, from a previously very strong and happy culture.
    We are actively seeking the happy hour culture between 9-5 and sure your book will asssit

  59. I’m responsible for backend IT in a company which claims that IT is very important, but still sees investments in IT as a one time cost and is very adversive to continuesly improve and replace hardware.

    Being responsible tends to be – responsible for determining what is not possible or what is going to fail next. Every single box in operation is a single point of failure and will cause total business disruption, yet replacing it or buying a redundant one is deemed to costly eventhough the cost of the business being down one single day is far greater that the combined costs of the IT-infrastructure…

    It not possible to deliver any service terms nor any defined levels of service and continuity as it all depends on what goes wrong and how long time it takes to replace and restore it.

    It generally SUCKS.. I spend most of my time covering my own ass by informing management of all the possible issues and problems and how they could be avoided and repaired… I would much rather do something about them, make sure that stuff runs, having failovers… but that is not on the map ahead…

  60. I work for a small software company that is split between the UK and California, USA, where the HQ is located. I am in the UK. Decisions are made in the US and are poorly commicated to this side of the Atlantic.

    The company is also in the throes of being refinanced (i.e. sold) meaning that the senior management will get big bonuses/pay-offs while the rest of us get the stress of being managed by a new set of executives who will be looking at the bottom line.

    I can’t seem to get motivated to line the pockets of others.

  61. I work in the Library of a small, liberal arts university in Virgina, USA. It is a great job with some wonderful people. However – what is not so wonderful tends to be the administration of said university. There is no sense of what a library is, what it is for or how it is used, why it should be funded, why there should be top-down communication, or why people matter. We have a new (two years now) library director who was chosen by the administration – over the objection of the staff – and she now cowers in fear of the same administration!

    We are in the midst of a huge construction/renovation project which is just nightmarish. We are currently operating the library in two locations (one being the building that is being worked on) and that has been tough. The changes made by the administration to the building plan during the building project are enough to make you insane. And now, the latest, with the opening of the new building set for August, we are poised to accept a new collection with its own staff to the building – yes, the same size as before when there wasn’t enough room for *us* and yet the new neighbors need an additional 30000 square feet. Yikes! We will be bunking in our offices, I think. Communication is a biggy here and letting your people do their jobs without micromanagement would be another one.

    But – for the most part I like what I do and who I’m doing it with. Thank you for the chance to vent!

  62. my workplace (which is a huge multinational corporation) is pretty soulless: everybody’s always talking about the company’s policies, being the right/wrong person for THIS company, all that kind of stuff. it feels like we’re not people, we’re robots who can or can’t be useful for the company and it doesn’t matter if you’ve got hobbies, relationships, or basically anything else you want to think about

  63. I’m a research student at a University in Wales in the UK. As a computer scientist, much of my work is independent and I can go for long periods without talking to the rest of my group – who reside at another university in the UK. I work in a small enclosed space and spend the majority of my day musing over my own thoughts, not knowing whether they’re sensible, correct and with little help at all. Communications between the group and my supervisor are generally pretty bad, being not in the same place. I just have a collection of computers to keep me company. I generally don’t know what I’m going to be doing in work prior to my arrival and I never know if the tasks I set myself are going to be feasible with the timeframes I give myself. My supervisor is never in the country.

    The room we have has extremely poor lighting, air conditioning (we hit 37 degrees c last summer), and I feel depressed a lot of the time coming in to it. I share it with 15 others and only half talk to one another.

    I’m 2.5 years in and being a stubborn fool don’t intend to give up anytime soon. I just wish I knew what the net result of my research was going to be so I have a clear focus to my work.

  64. I work for a mid-sized ministry full of people who work hard for a cause they believe in and do what they are told. However, they are not ENERGIZED. My prior role was working in another organization, still faith-based, but driven by the desire to increase other’s money in a way that matched their principles – and my boss was an incredible motivator (even got me to this blog). I want to bring that energy, excitement, and productivity here.

  65. I believe surroundings can have a big impact on peoples attitude and perspective on work. Working in an old building with bad lighting, no ventilation and lots of clutter in each room is without a doubt a dull start, and hardly a driving factor to foster innovation and happiness within an organisation.

  66. My workplace is unhappy because I have hamsters for co-workers. They live in their cubies, only correspond by e-mail, and don’t take any ownership of their work! It drives me nuts! I want to work in a free-flowing, collaborative environment where people learn and build off each other’s ideas. Instead, I’m stuck with hamsters.

    It really makes me unhappy is the passive/agressive nature of putting everything in e-mail. Eventually, after two or three rounds, I’ll get up and say, “Are you having difficulty with something?” “Can we talk about the problem?”

    My boss tries, but he rarely succeeds. He wants a more collaborative, productive environment, but I see him beginning to “work around” the hamsters and shift tasks to me and my more productive, sociable co-workers.

    It must be true: Those who do get more to do!

  67. Our surroundings, while probably not the fundamental cause of unhappiness, certainly don’t do anything to help. Micromanagement at the supervisor level raises employee stress levels; definitely a contributing factor!

  68. My workplace has only been “unhappy” for the past 4 months. Employees have discovered that they haven’t been paid for a half hour per day for the past multitude of years. The employer is trying to hide behind all kinds of excuses to avoid coming to terms, though they’ve admitted they’ve made a mistake but somehow don’t feel they need to make it right beyond making making some changes for the future, none of which includes paying any additional wages.

    People are REALLY unhappy here and the whole environment sucks. Staff don’t want to drag their employer through the mud but it could well happen sometime soon. It makes it especially hard when your employer is a law firm. Think about it. Who would win in an argument about anything?

    Talk about unhappy. Maybe your book would provide our staff with some peace of mind or at least help us find a way to transcend our current misery.

    ohmmmmm …

  69. OK I can’t say for sure my current organization is definitely unhappy, but there is some growing stress caused by cost cutting, which we feel harms our ability to do a quality job and maintain our reputation for excellence. It does not help that we have absentee management and an executive chain that seems to show little appreciation for our efforts and no genuine interest in or understanding of our jobs. One recent cut removed our local manager and some out that role now falls to me. Their was some discussion about what title would go with my new resposibilities(cant use anything that might suggest I am a manager or leader just in case that offends people). I made an independent decision to assign my own job title in order to show my own colors. All right I admit it – I stole the title – I am now the Chief happiness Officer for my team.
    PS I will be seriously unhappy if I miss out on the free book offer :-)

  70. I work in a company that is being acquired – it has been a small family oriented and reasonable company for a long time and now is turning monster big and controlled from afar by executives who seem to be motivated by money and nothing else. On top of that tomorrow is raises day which you would think would create a happier environment but not this year given the size of the raises

  71. We were a happy place to work, pet friendly, beer Fridays, soda in the kitchen… ownership and management has changed. Now I can’t bring my dog to work, can’t imbibe on a late Friday afternoon, the CEO doesn’t know anyone

  72. Where I work, the company can’t seem to decide whether it likes permanent employees or contractors better, so it is always switching projects between the two groups.

    We also have a union that does wonderful things like not allowing our bosses to let us leave early because it would be “unfair” to other groups.

    Most of the projects we work on don’t have any real stakeholders, so important things will languish for months before anything is done on them. Then we get chewed out for wasting resources.

    Our main IT director (for the whole country) is a total micromanager, talking directly to the average developer to see whether or not a project is finished.

    The IT group is always changing its mind on what software is and is not allowed, and who is and is not allowed admin access on local machines. Programmers, end-users, and managers are currently supposed to all have the same software on their machines. Dandy.

    Management buys nearly all the marketing hype about new software products hook, line, and sinker, leading to massive expenditures on software that doesn’t do what it is supposed to.

    User groups for development projects refuse, for weeks at a time, to give any concrete, consistent information about what in-house software should do. They then complain when these vague requirements result in shoddy applications.

    I definitely want this book, just so I can live vicariously in a happy work environment.

  73. This comment does not seem to appear, going to try again:

    I like Brian am at a startup. In fact it’s a startup to help people in large companies achieve their career goals, find people outside of the org chart, and connect with their co-workers.=) Click on the link to find out more.

    I can’t say that I am unhappy here, but outside factors does make for some dramatic turns and toy with my emotions so! I had been working for large corporations until now and was quite frustrated at the lack of visibility and ownership I felt. At one of my past jobs, I had 4 managers within a year, and people were leaving about once a month… not too stable =)

  74. Hi! I work at a game store… and I’m unhappy with work for a number of reasons…

    First, corporate won’t replace our stupid broken vacuum! It’s been broke for… two months? And they give us the cheapest of the cheap.

    Another thing is that we, who work in retail, get hardly any incentive to put up with customers. Also, we rarely get any positive motivating feedback from corporate. All corporate does is bash us and complain that we haven’t been meeting our reserve and subscription requirements, and we’re all competing for numbers. It’s sad.

    I also work with a bunch of boys. And they’re all messy. And I tell them over and over to at least do some cleaning, and they do none. So, me being the only girl working there is always the one to clean up and attempt to vacuum and work on cleaning the floor.

  75. I work in the sales office of an RV manufacturer.

    Mismanagement has left the company in a state of complete chaos. Product is going out the door in poor condition (and we in the sales office bear the brunt of customer complaints because our customer service rep is overwhelmed), dealers do not want to buy our product due to poor quality control, warranty costs are skyrocketing, nepotism has gotten an untested, underqualified, and inexperienced kid put into a position of senior management (much to the dismay of those long-time employees hoping to move up). Sales are in the toilet.

    The rumor-mill grinds on unchecked because management refuses to address the employees en mass to try to put everyone’s mind at rest. Line employees are verbally abused. Office staff is treated poorly – there is no one making sure everyone gets the proper paperwork for insurance or 401(k)s in a timely manner (found this one out the hard way), paranoia is so rampant that nobody wants to help anybody or share “secrets” about how to do their job, and you never, ever get a raise unless you badger management yourself. This might take anywhere from two weeks to a month, depending on how long they can stall (I’ve been badgering my boss for my one-year review for nearly three weeks, and it hasn’t happened yet).

    This is just for starters. I could go on – for example, how employees have no way to offer suggestions or give feedback, the way we’re not supposed to be friends with anybody we work with – but I think this gives a general idea.

  76. I work in an environment of finger pointing verses cooperation. It could be a great place to work and I will keep trying. I would love to deliver your book to my boss in hopes that things will change. I know my co-workers subscribe to your blog so I do not want to get into to much detail.

    I just read one of the comments about positive motivation. I have a different problem in that positive feed back feels empty because you know a job was not done well. You should not say thank you for getting something done 3 weeks in a row because it is finally finished 3 weeks late. Let me know the real state as well as everyone else so we can get better.

  77. Why my workplace is unhappy:

    1. I’ve been here 2 years, and I’ve watched half the people here leave. It doesn’t take much to figure that morale is l-o-w.

    2. We are told to do one thing, and then we do it. And then we are asked why we did it coz it’s wrong.

    3. We are told that our English is not good enough (we are in Hong Kong) and are asked to copy the English from emails of our American/English counterparts. So we copy and paste their EXACT sentences into our emails. Then we are told that our English still suck.

    4. We have no bottomline. We have to submitt to irrational demands of sponsors and clients when we clearly don’t have to.

    5. Person A writes an email. Boss has no problems. Person B writes an email using same sentences from Person A. Boss berates Person B for having poor English.

    6. And that’s just the beginning….

  78. Hi,

    I’ve just switched jobs, from a place where there were no challenges and bulk loads of undermaintained-wtf-ridden-code (I’m a programmer). Next to that the workplace was noisy, and management did its best to storm in, make a lot of noise and then walking out again, thinking they had improved morale by making some semi-witty-dumbass remark. Hooray!

    So I left.

    But now I’ve ended up in a workplace where there is even more noise, and where we’re in constant firefighting mode with no end in sight. The best way to deal with this is to get promoted to PM and start flailing arround yourself.


  79. I want this book not for my current job, but to give to some folks who still work at my last job.

    highlights include:
    No area to call your own other than a small locker.
    No phone extension to call your own (and people outside the office always needed to contact you–so they called your cel, which the company refuses to pay for).
    Everything was done for the convenience of the managers, including calling in graveyard people for noontime meetings. On their days off.
    All decisions were made by managers with no input from people who actually had to do the work.
    Unreasonable customers were coddled by management.
    Managers had a derogatory attitude towards employees–a senior manager was overheard referring to workers as “the Peons.”
    Heavy micro-management is encouraged by upper management with no repercussions for the supervisor when things went wrong, but plenty of high profile berating for the Peons.

  80. I think I could really use your book :)

    I work as a software developer at a firm that hasn’t produced anything in the last year or so. Which isn’t to say we’re not working, we are, only we keep doing and redoing the same things. It seems like this experience has made me more bitter and less apreciative that I was before :( (a thing that I surely want to change because I don’t like me the way I am now plus it makes me less happy)

  81. Just started at a small company that turns out to have tons of politics and millions of things going on. Everyone has their own ideas with no clear direction. It’s hard to figure out what to do without stepping on someone’s toes

  82. I work for a small company (well… in fact I’m leaving this boring and lousy place to start my own business).

    I’ll give an interesting example (the rest is usual: bozo managers who don’t care about people, micromanagement, etc.)

    As the place is very small, the electronics lab (which looks more like a tiny factory) is located right next to the software development room where I happen to (try to) work. It’s quite hard to concentrate when a wonderful symphony of power tools can be heard…

  83. I think the main reason people are unhappy at where I work is that it is easier for them to be unhappy than happy. Unhappiness allows them not to change. Happiness offers new opportunities everyday and requires constant attention and effort – albeit with the rewards that come with that.

    Sometimes people want to be unhappy and need intervention to push them over the ledge to find something different.

    Now that is a challenge :)

  84. Complete and total lack of planning! It creates an atmosphere of dealing with constant firefighting, lack of transparency and accountability. Ultimately it means things don’t get done on time and everyone squabbles about whos fault it is.

    I baffles me how people can achieve goals on time if they don’t figure out before hand how they will do it!

  85. I work for a state agency. My department is 12 people, counting the secretaries. Our weekly staff meetings last TWO HOURS of people saying nothing that anyone else needs to hear. It’s like they want everyone to know that they’re actually working, so they feel the need to detail every little thing. Meanwhile, the commissioner is checking and sending email. And I have to sit there thinking of all the actual work I could be doing.

  86. Unfortunately I’m writing this for my wife. Her job and her workplace are miserable. She’s convinced I think too that it’s like this everywhere. As a consultant in a past life I saw many different work places and try to tell her that it’s different in every company. But her lack of success at finding a new job makes her feel stuck at her current one.

    What doesn’t exactly help, is that my wife is insanely great at her job and takes it way too seriously. She gives every ounce of herself to this thing so when it gets bad it really makes her miserable. And because she’s so great at what she does, people just keep piling on more responsibility and more and more.

    I am pretty clueless how to help her out and if there is anything she can do but find a new place to go. Can this book help?

  87. What makes the workplace unhappy? Lack of interesting work sure doesn’t help. The company got bought after I was hired and slowly evolved from varied interesting jobs to single task projects. The egress of employees last year was one third. And so the reports of higher salaries start filtering back, creating feelings of anger. So more people leave. Who’s next? Maybe me…

  88. I work as a sole-practitioner information security consultant. When not at a client, I work from an office in my home. At first I had my office in the basement. It was cold. There was no sunlight or windows. The room itself was small so it was always over crowded with boxes and stacks of paper. There were not enough electrical outlets for my equipment. I was quite unhappy (with the basement office, not the fact that I was working for myself … about that I was ecstatic). Recently, I moved my office up to the main floor of the house. Now, I have two large windows with natural light and sunlight during parts of the day. I can see trees and cars driving down the road and birds and people! I can see my kids bus pull up to the house after school. I’m still working from a crappy old desk and chair that isn’t so good, but the simple choice of moving my office to a place with natural light has done wonders!

    I’d like a copy of the book if possible so I can find other secrets to a happy workplace. I visit many unhappy work places and maybe I can share some ideas and/or encourage them to read this website and buy and read your book!

    INtAhDaVnAkNsCE (thanks in advance :-)

    — Clint

  89. I’m a student thats works also for my school i work in my small student room :(
    Now its just boring working on my own and this way i get distracted very fast. I really could replace myself in your learning blog but how do you do it ?
    I’m almost done at school and have to face a world of boring office’s..
    So i really could use some help!


  90. My company makes a wonderful product for individuals with a certain disability and yet my fellow employees are unhappy. It’s a classic case of sales people reaping the most benefits while the people in the office doing all the rest of the work…R&D, funding, billing, customer support, are hardly given a heartfelt pat on the back. It’s terrible to know what you do is helping people but still no like what your doing because of the environment.

  91. My office is kind of sad in general terms, we are under major restructuration.

    I believe its in my hands to do something but i need the help of your book!


    Thanks in advance.

  92. I used several of your strategies and my department flourished, my employees were happy, and our work was consistently getting better. My boss did not like my unorthodox approach to management and but me on a behavior contract until i reigned in my employees and started to ‘function’ in my role better. In order to not loose my job i lost my creative approaches, and my entire operation suffered. Maybe if i get a copy of your book for her she will see that i am not the only manager who believes productivity is a result of happiness, not work stress!

  93. Currently we’re in office space squeezed between many groups phone jockeys who jabber inanely between calls (we’re what you might call “knowledge workers” so we need some quiet). The office is overheated, lacks any airflow and to make matters worse, we’re so high up that if we do manage to get a window opened, a slightly windy day ends up smashing posessions off desks or even worse smashing the window into people.

    All of these wouldn’t be a problem if the building management actually cared about fixing the problems with heating and airflow, but they seem to think it’s whinging.

  94. I work for a major company and while we are generally happy at work, I sometimes get the feeling that we are slipping. I am desperately looking for ways to make us all happier at work!

  95. I work for a small firm and it can get a little crazy. I’m not quite completely unhappy but have a disgruntled, less-computer-savvy co-worker who could really use the book. We will both read it!

  96. i work for a small organisation, doing non-profit work.
    we are seriously understaffed and we are in dire need of a new office since our rent-contract with the current owner is ending in december and will not be prolongued.

    our staff consists mostly of volunteers (95%) and it’s not easy finding them and even much harder to keep em.
    Most problematic of all is that our manager has been demotivated for the past 6 months and i can’t seem to boost his spirit.

    So we are in urgent need of a fresh supply of idea’s and ways to keep our people happy and motivated.

    Thanks in advance and keep up the great posts!

  97. Our company recently went into receivership, our CEO was fired and we are critically understaffed. Add to that the normal tight deadlines we are used to and an ridiculous turnover rate, and we’re not very happy.

  98. I just found your site :) I’m not unhappy in my workplace (good thing since you already have your 100 responses — how cool is that!), since I work at home for myself, but I just love the idea of this.

    Bookmarked you and will be back!

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