Your mother was right. It pays to be nice.

January 5, 2005
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Last month in Food Engineering, we closed the year as we have for over two decades with our annual Job Satisfaction and Salary Survey.

Joyce Fassl
Last month in Food Engineering, we closed the year as we have for over two decades with our annual Job Satisfaction and Salary Survey. One of the things I stressed in my December column was FE's survey finding that many food industry employees feel they don't get the recognition they deserve. Since I wrote that column, I have come across more research to support our findings.

According to a Gallup Organization poll of more than four million people, the number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don't feel appreciated. In fact, Gallup says, 65% of people surveyed said they received no recognition for good work in the past year. A new book from Gallup Press called How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life hopes to change the course of the sometimes negative work world.

The few companies that are smart enough to say thank you by offering recognition and praise reports say they have increased individual productivity, enjoy better safety records, retain employees and receive higher satisfaction scores from customers, Gallup states.

In the past five years, nearly every company in America has been forced to lay off workers or implement new projects by asking existing staff to pick up the slack. Nowhere is this more evident than in food manufacturing. Food Engineering research shows that increased automation and reduced workforces are the number one issues facing food manufacturers today.

I don't think that the feel good way of work will revolutionize the business of food processing, but it could make the difference between meeting a monthly production goal, cutting back on staff attrition or just helping to make the workplace more positive.

The book's authors suggest that employers increase awareness of how often their comments are negative; work toward a ratio of five positive comments to every one negative comment; and focus on what employees or peers do right rather than where they need improvement. It's not an easy task in an already overstressed workplace.

What does all this niceness get you? The authors claim nine out of 10 people say they are more productive when they're around positive people. More importantly, increasing positive emotions could lengthen life span by 10 years.

Your mother was right. Being nice does count for something. It could be your career success or even your life.

Food Engineering Editorial Advisory Board

David Watson
Vice President, Engineering
Pepperidge Farm, Inc.

Kevin Mellor
Director, Processing Center of Excellence

John Eberle
Innovation Group Manager

Fernando Palacios
Vice President of Operations and Supply Chain
Land O' Lakes

Dave Gemellaro
Director, Sector Engineering
Kraft Foods

Peter Migchels
Director of Engineering, Fresh Bakeries
Maple Leaf Foods

Tom Wolters
Senior Manager Technology
Pepsico Beverages & Food

Carl Krueger
Senior Manager, Global Engineering Services
H.J. Heinz

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