Smile on the Job—or Else

by Rachel Marx Boufford | February 13, 2013

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has been making headlines recently for a rather unique requirement—that its employees “create a sense of fun” on the job.

The London-based chain, which also has outposts in New York, DC, Chicago and Boston, insists that its staff members demonstrate “Pret Behaviors.” These include being “charming,” “sincere,” “genuinely friendly” and even “quirky.” Oh, and working at Pret “just […] for the money” is not allowed.

Sound crazy? While your company might not explicitly require that you are a barrel of laughs while on the clock, having a positive attitude at work can only help your career.

First, studies have shown that those with a positive outlook are 31% more productive than more negative thinking workers. You’ll also create a cycle of energy that is beneficial to you—positivity leads to less stress, which in turn leads to more positivity.

Second, in a tight economy, you simply can’t afford to have a bad attitude on the job. For many positions, there are well-qualified people waiting in line to replace you—showing that you’re grateful to have your job is always a good idea.

Moreover, people are drawn to—and want to work with—their happy and optimistic co-workers. If your boss has a great new project to assign, it’s much more likely that he or she will pick a team member who will take it on enthusiastically. Having a good attitude and being pleasant to work with will improve your reputation at the office.

Still, Pret has come under some criticism for “forcing” its employees to put on a happy face while ringing up sandwiches. The chain incentivizes its employees to act like they’re having fun at all times through a weekly bonus program. Each week, a mystery shopper visits the store; if great service is on offer, the entire crew gets a bonus—if the cashier is too glum, the whole team is penalized.

What do you think about companies requiring their employees to show a great attitude at work? Let us know in the comments.

Filed Under: Workplace Issues


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