Finding A Workplace That Does Not Suck Series Concept #2: Morale

Whether you work for a Mom-and-Pop business or a massive corporation, you will encounter and experience the effects of morale.  High morale can be momentum to get you through the down time at work, as well as provide mental anesthesia for the rough times. Little to no morale at a workplace can be stressful, and have one reading the Classified Ads in the break room at lunch time.

As I have mentioned, it can’t be artificially generated.  Corporate meetings and memos will not make it manifest itself in the workplace.  There are a few factors that can have a direct bearing on whether or not it exists.

I think the biggest factor is how realistic the work load is for each employee.  A worker must have the perception that they can get the daily tasks completed. Some slack should be given if the person is training  or is still orienting to the new role, of course.  However, we have all had coworkers who have an easily managed list of tasks that they can never seem to get done – even with generous amounts of sneaky delegation or avoidance of some jobs to others.  Other workers have the incredible ability to easily handling their own workload, then either look for more work to keep busy OR cover for others to avoid seeing anyone (or their department) in trouble.  The lazy workers are enabled, as they are not likely confronted.  Those actually working get frustrated or angered at working harder than they have, to cover the slackers. That is definitely a morale killer.  Add in the potential dynamic of a lazy coworker that everyone, including the manager, knows about but refused to confront – that is even worse for morale.  Morale can also suffer when the workload is impossible, but management either does not care or – worse yet – actively takes steps to take away resources which make the job even harder.  Water cooler talk ends up being gripe sessions. Venting about a tough day becomes complaining.  While one may bond with coworkers over a tough time, it makes it harder to carry around your own stress – as well as the stress of friends during such times.

The last thing that can kill morale is the unfair application of the rules. As we all know, the employee handbook is something that we likely sign-off on upon hire.  However, some may not know that it is a legally binding agreement.  Your employment is a contractual agreement with terms that have to be met by both parties.  For those companies that do not have handbooks or a Human Resource department, the employer is still bound by Federal laws around fair hiring and employment practices.  Unfortunately, working for a company that does not fairly apply rewards or consequences to all of its employees usually means having to leave to escape the problems.  Confronting the problem makes you vulnerable to potentially being singled out and targeted for arbitrary things to write you up.  Even if you legitimately have a grievance – especially one that breaks Federal law; pursuing it makes your relationship with your current employer adversarial.  You may or may not get justice, but going after an employer with litigation essentially ends your job.  Which, for those who are emotionally close to coworkers, means losing your “work family.”   Choosing whether to stay or to go can be very tough. However, my suggestion is that if one does decide to leave an employer; it should be done discretely and thoroughly.  Research to find out the requirements of how much notice to give, along with what the process is around leaving.  Give your two weeks (or whatever) notice on paper. Be polite. Be civil. Say nothing negative or bash your current situation.  Line up references. Move on. When it comes to the new employer, remember the phrase, “I am exploring new opportunities.” This comes in really handy when the new employer asks why you left, esp. if you have been at the rough job for a long time.

Finding A Workplace That Does Not Suck Series Concept #1: Team building

I was sitting at the nurse station on my unit when my boss walked by after interviewing a potential addition to our quirky team. All of us introduced ourselves and sent good wishes toward their

Source: Work Families: Where Nursing Shines

Finding A Workplace That Does Not Suck Series Concept #1: Team building

This article resonated with me. Actually, it got me thinking.  I would agree that work families are emotionally possible, but they have to be cultivated….and can be shaped by the people that are on the team. People can be outgoing, shy, intellectual, snarky, sarcastic, etc.  Everyone brings something to the workplace table.  As long as there is good communication, the team will grow.  The subsequent trust and commitment will make the workplace enjoyable and meaningful.  That can make a great shift fun, and a difficult shift bearable.

However, the team needs to bond organically. It can’t be forced.  Perhaps stating the obvious, but years in a variety of jobs over the years tells me that it isn’t obvious to some….namely, employers.  Unfortunately, businesses and corporations want all of the benefits of the teamwork – but are not aware of/understand/nor care about creating the environment to support a team. No, it’s not boring meetings. No, it’s not getting low-budget bling (lanyards, water bottles, etc.) with corporate logos on them.  More often than not, bosses paraphrase the empty parental solution to siblings that aren’t getting along:

“I want you all to get along. I don’t care how you do it.”

That ranks up there with “don’t make me come back there” and “I will turn this car around and we will go STRAIGHT home!” These statements remind me of my  childhood memories of sitting in a large, light blue Ford station wagon barreling down a distant highway during the 1970s.  We learn, at an early age, the difference between a real and empty threat.  The surface truce with siblings could be masked in front of the parents, but the resentment over such trivial things as this-is-my-side-of-the-car-and-thats-your-side arguments did not fade as easily.  The same can be true of co-workers. One moment, they can be civil and stand-offish to outwardly hostile.  This is what is known as “drama.” It exists, to some extent, in all workplaces.  At high levels, the drama can be as stifling as someone seriously ripping a fart in the med room.  This spontaneous analogy being obvious.  You don’t want to be there, but you have to be.

The synergistic power of having a great team of people is incredible.  As a nurse (extending to any medical field, I suppose), it is even more important.  We face very intense moments that require us to focus, assess, and act on our training, skill sets, and emotional resources to keep our patients safe and healthy.  Research identifies the negative emotions as impeding our ability to provide safe care. When our managers and coworkers function as resources and support; we can maximize our care.  However, when the work environment leaves you feeling alone and overwhelmed; you don’t have enough emotional resources left to be the best nurse/worker you can be.

The bottom line: Regardless of the source of your motivation to work, if you don’t want to be there; it is likely time to move on and work somewhere else.

Paranormal Investigations Should Be More Than Jittery Night Vision Video


I will admit this out loud: I find many supernatural topics, especially the concept of ghosts, interesting.

However, my education and training in the education and medical fields requires me to consider such things as the scientific process, logic, and the avoidance of assumptions.   The entertainment value drops significantly when any paranormal show becomes a video collage of untrained, emotionally volatile and easily scattered people leap around in allegedly haunted places.  Television shows like T.A.P.S. and Paranormal State are more aligned with my need for some application of a systematic approach.  The T.A.P.S. members include those who were in HVAC or some such related field that allows them to understand the science of what might be causing some phenomenons in their research.  I also appreciate their approach as cynics; “Is there a logical, perhaps easy explanation for what the homeowner is experiencing?”  Paranormal State, which as far as I know is no longer on the air, also had some reasoning behind the investigations.  They would do research on the site, but not necessarily reveal anything to the owners until after the investigation.  They would also not tell their mediums (who would do readings of the alleged haunted areas) the background or history either.  I will say that Chip (the guest medium on Paranormal State) was overly dramatic, most of the time.  Oops, I think I spoke too soon. Apparently, Paranormal State was caught faking an investigation.  

I have watched The Haunting, which are like documentaries about various supernatural events.  When Ghosts Attack is another show that I have watched.  Then there is one on the Animal Planet Channel that features animals that react to alleged supernatural events.  Those tend to be less dramatic than The Haunting show.

Anyway, my point was more about Zak Bagans. I believe he is part of a show called Ghost Adventures.  He and his buddies find an alleged scary place, lock themselves in for the night, record stuff, then present their findings.  Zak Bagans, who looks more like someone who spends a great deal of time in gyms looking at his own reflection, does little to dispel that notion.  His background includes graduating from a film school, and being a Wedding DJ in the Las Vegas area.  There was no mention of formal training in any science field that I saw on his website.  I have seen the show, but really can’t get past the jittery night vision filming.  He and his cast members react to alleged supernatural interactions, such as objects moving or hearing voices.  They also experience the supernatural as alleged scratches, or goosebumps on their skin.  The Electronic Voice Phenomenons (EVPs) do not strike me as being all that clear.  I have yet to see anything on their video clips that appears to be truly supernatural.  As for assumptions, Zak makes them by the truck load.  When he is not blathering his way through an investigation, he is antagonizing ghosts by mocking them.  Essentially, locker room trash talk – a theme that I am sure he is familiar with – with his buddies during lifting sessions at the gym.  I am guessing that the ghosts he’s trying to contact are probably just ignoring him, at that point.

Personally, I think that the probability of some type of spiritual residue may be left in this realm when people die.  I do not know if we are not destined to ever interact with those forces, much like not likely being able to travel anywhere near the speed of light. However, it is interesting to speculate on the possibilities.  I have spent some evenings going through youtube videos of alleged apparitions/poltergeists/etc. Some videos seem more legitimate than others, but it does get you thinking. Either way, Zak Bagans is….well, I will let you put your own word here.



Study: Men Who Post Tons of Selfies Have Psychopathic Tendencies


I have already found it annoying that people who initiate conversation with me, then use their phones during that conversation, to be annoying.  I have also been somewhat creeped out by people who can’t seem to get enough of their own photos.  It’s like being your own paparazzi. You love yourself in a celebrity-like way, as well as tapping into the zeal of those who chase that celeb around.  Narcissism never had it so good.

Here is the Jezebel article that references the study

Good Morning America Blows (the lid off the teens-using-apps phenom)!

Good Morning America, once again, brings their “A-game” to the journalistic table. This same hard-hitting, no-holes-barred reporting has brought us stories about how celebrities cope with paper cuts, which dresses are the shiniest on their stations other shows, and playing all those viral youtube videos.

Congratulations. You have become the televised version of People magazine.

Top 10 Reasons the GOP Does Not Want Hold Confirmation Hearings For The Supreme Court


10) They are still looking a secret treasure that Justice Antonin Scalia is rumored to have buried in his office.

9) The GOP are still combing through the Constitution for a “If I can’t have my way; you can’t either” loophole.

8) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still bitter after getting called “Mr. Magoo” by all of the popular Congress kids.

7) They have to wash their hair that day.

6) Their psychic advisor warned against making any decisions for the next year because Mercury is in retrograde.

5) They need to check with large corporate special interest groups to see if it’s o.k. first

4) Leaving the such an important decision to President Donald Trump makes perfect sense. (and people say the GOP are out of touch!)

3) There is a movie marathon on Lifetime television, and they just want some “me” time right now.

2) They are still in-fighting about whether or not to host “bring your daughter to work day,” but are struggling to figure out what they actually do for a living to be able to explain it.

1) Obstructionism, pure and simple.

Senate GOP: No hearings for Supreme Court nominee

Holy S##t! Am I A Curmudgeon?!?


Looking over my last few posts makes me wonder if I am a curmudgeon. Am I that old guy who rants about “why can’t it be like the good old days?” Am I forcing other elevator patrons to see my old surgical scars?! No?!?   But he is ranting about health care, television commercials, the end of the world! Oh, don’t forget about the 1980s music references. No worries. I will back off for the serious stuff for a bit. Maybe throw in another Top 10 list, movie review (I love horror films), or I was thinking of possibly doing a writing prompt to dabble more in creative writing.

Oh, wait. I can’t be a curmudgeon. I don’t use park benches and my nose, ear, and eyebrow hair is still neatly trimmed. False alarm!  I will now return you to your regular blog programming.

Kanye West: The Human WTF?

Kanye West Drops New Album, Says He’s $53 Million In Debt

Kanye West Rants Against Taylor Swift, Brags He’s 50% More Influential Than (take your pick)

Another article about being 50% more influential than Stanley Kubrick, Pablo Picasso, Pablo Escobar, and Apostle Paul – in a backstage SNL rant. I’d like to see the research data and draw my own conclusion, please.

Becomes An Internet Meme Because Of His Knack Of Interrupting People To Insult Them

Kanye Asks Mark Zuckerberg For $1 Billion Dollars To Fund His “Ideas”

It’s remarkable that so much ego can be squeezed into one person. Kanye, fiction is a genre of books; not a lifestyle. Please stop. Please.

Author note: the omission of a graphic for this post is purely intentional.

Setting Unrealistic (Medical) Expectations


Laser Spine Institute Commercial

Being in the medical field, I take care of wide range of patients….including those with joint and spinal problems.  Pain not only can make doing everyday tasks difficult; it can also be difficult to manage.  Sometimes, pain management is finding the right combination of the type of pain medicine, physical therapy, and even other non-invasive procedures.  Surgery can be an option, but it shouldn’t be the first choice.  Doctors are required to present patients with information about what the surgical procedure is, what the possible benefits are, what the risks are, and what to expect afterwards.  There is ALWAYS a risk with surgery.  It can happen for any number of reasons, including allergic reactions or extrapyramidal responses to medicine, comorbidities with the patient, or any complication during the procedure.  Every person is different; therefore, their response to the medicines, treatment, and surgery can be different, as well. Here is where I begin to have a problem with commercials with the Laser Spine Institute.  It presents all of the benefit with none of the risk. Setting expectations really high….unrealistically high, in my opinion.

I found one website that gives patient reviews about the organization. Granted, I am not completely sure of the credibility of the website….or those who present any information about it.  I am not gullible enough to believe that any presence of data on the Internet means it is true. I also found a Bloomberg Business article about lawsuits against Laser Spine Institute, so I would think there may be more credibility with this information. I will leave it up to the reader to check its veracity of its statements.

Speaking of veracity of its statements, I am reminded of a similar “rosy picture” painted by commercials produced by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  I have read articles that say that their success rates are heavily influenced by not taking on patient cases that may have more serious, more aggressive forms of cancer (that may not be as likely to survive).  Quoting a Doctor interviewed for an article from Reuters News Service that Iinked to:

Accepting only selected patients and calculating survival outcomes from only some of them “is a huge bias and gives an enormous advantage to CTCA,” said biostatistician Donald Berry of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

This is more than just a nurse pointing out nonsensical responses to medical crises on Grey’s Anatomy (Don’t get me started!). This is irresponsibility among those whose motives are financially-oriented that patient-driven.