The topic of the executive session at a prominent global corporation was the morale of their employees.
The company’s products were mature and, therefore, becoming commoditized. To maintain margins and keep investors happy, the business laid off a chunk of its workers. The leadership team told the workforce they could breathe easy now, as no further terminations were planned. But when results again came in low, the company cut loose even more people.
The engagement of the survivors took a hit. When the firm commissioned an employee census, it showed quite a bit of frustration, fear, and intentions by many to find new jobs elsewhere before they, too, were pushed out of the boat.
One of the executive vice presidents couldn’t handle that truth. During the executive briefing, when I advanced to a slide showing the proportion of workers who were now demoralized, he erupted. “Disengaged employees are like a cancer,” he said. “They should be cut out!”