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Francis Santos

Workplace Motivation: Disney’s Electronic Whip Not to Be Emulated

Nov 07 2011, 06:44 PM by

As an employer, it is probably safe to assume that you want the members of your staff to put their best foot forward at all times. Maybe you’re getting it. Maybe some employees are working harder than others. The time may come when the team needs a swift kick in the you know what, but how do you do it in a reasonable manner that actually works? We’ll get to that later, but let’s first dive into why it probably isn’t a good idea to follow in Disney’s footsteps.
Enter Disney’s Dungeon
Word has gotten around that Disney, the maker of cinema magic and dreams for all ages, has not created the happiest environment for some of its employees. A story written by L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez portrayed a disturbing image that sounds like it comes straight out of a modern day science fiction movie. According to Isabel Barrera, an eight year worker in Disneyland’s Anaheim hotel, the global media company runs a tight shift mandated by what the crew calls the ‘electronic whip.’

Barrera, who was quoted in Lopez’s article, is referring to the system Disney had installed last year to police its staff and maintain a high level of productivity. Apparently the electronic whip is a network of huge, flat-screen monitors that hang from the walls in each room where laundry employees do their work. The monitors are similar to the scoreboards you may see on a basketball court or football field in how they openly put employee performance on display. Interestingly, the screens highlight the performance of those who are both meeting and failing to meet expectations for all to see.

The Lopez article revealed a similar setup in Paradise Pier, another Anaheim hotel owned by Disney. Barrera said that it has gotten to a point where laundry workers actually pass up on bathroom breaks in fear of production dropping off and being reprimanded by management. In the Paradise Pier location, there is said to be a framed picture of the lovable Mickey Mouse enjoying a lunch break with a huge smile hanging right underneath the screen that monitors employees. This can be either be viewed as irony or a slap in the face.
Boosting Employee Motivation the Right Way
Even if you have the reputation of being a bit of a drill sergeant in the workplace, you probably don’t want to take notes from Disney on how to keep employees fired up and on top of their responsibilities. I think you’ll find these quick tips a bit more civil and effective:

Reward Often - There is nothing wrong with buttering up your employees to keep them motivated. In fact, it is one of the most effective ways to keep both morale and productivity high. Whether it’s monthly awards or a recognition program, implement a system that shows you recognize their hard work and appreciate it.

Keep Communicating - Your employees want to be in the loop, so why not let them? Open the door of communication to keep staff updated on company happenings and allow them to be a part of the decision making process when applicable. The motivation of an engaged employee is typically through the roof.

Be Flexible - Is it necessary for your entire staff to commute to the office? If it really isn’t, you may want to allow some of your employees to work from home. Telecommuting greatly relieves the stress associated with everyday family life, meaning it could work wonders for improving retention and productivity in the workplace. Some employees, of course, will need the motivation of the actual office environment, but a little flexibility can go a long way in getting your team to give their all.
It’s All About Building Relationships
Marketing gurus always stress the importance of building relationships in business. Don’t just apply this to your customers, adopt this mindset for staff as well. Building relationships in the workplace is key because with it comes trust. Having a trusting relationship will encourage struggling workers to get better, and convince perennial all stars to stick around.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Growing Your Business, Tech Editorial

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