Positive Attitude or Positive Thinking?

When American Express found itself in trouble it began laying people off and changing their approach to business. There is nothing wrong with that. All employees recognise that the world has changed and know they will be effected. But something in the way it was done did a lot of damage. “The staff just stopped working.”

Employers prize flexibility, of course. But if they aren't careful they can wind up with an alienated, dispirited workforce. A Conference Board survey released on Jan. 5 found that only 45% of workers surveyed were satisfied with their jobs, the lowest in 22 years of polling. Poor morale can devastate performance. After making deep staff cuts following the subprime implosion, UBS (UBS), Credit Suisse (CS), and American Express (AXP) hired Harvard psychology lecturer Shawn Achor to train their remaining employees in positive thinking. Says Achor: "All the employees had just stopped working."