I\u2019ve spent many grueling years slaving away in the salt mines known as the American workplace. At the tender age of 13 while growing up in Shelton\u2019s Pine Rock section, I started weeding Mrs. Dwyer\u2019s rose garden for $1 an hour, then I worked as a laborer with Iannucci Construction Co. for $6 an hour and later taught grammar for $7 an hour, loaded steel drums onto trailers for $9 an hour, and ultimately took a pay cut to pursue a career in journalism as a reporter, editor, manager and executive, where I calculate my salary averaged 86 cents an hour. I have so many horror stories they\u2019d make your hair curl, and mine curled so much it fell out. Sometimes it was like being in the cast of "The Walking Dead," that TV show about zombies running wild. Being a fair and decent boss I always tried, but often failed, to be a fair and decent boss. Fortunately, now that my years as a manager are behind me, there\u2019s no need for me to \u201cmotivate,\u201d \u201cinspire,\u201d \u201cprovide positive reinforcement,\u201d or pretend slackers are star performers. According to recent surveys, American workers are fed up, and nothing in management\u2019s bag of tricks will improve the situation. Not rap sessions with the CEO. Not coffee an\u2019 with the chief innovation officer. Not an Employee of the Month parking space or a private port-o-let. Not new and improved snack machines with gluten-free products. Not dental insurance, vision insurance or flood insurance. A chronically unhappy workforcc Is the problem the employers or bad bosses or a chronically unhappy workforce? Which came first, the chicken or the barbecued wings? One study concluded 70% of workers can\u2019t stand their jobs, even when they have perks like office massages, catered meals and free brewskis, which means the walking dead have a serious morale problem. Another study said 65% of Americans would take a new boss over a raise. Most people don\u2019t have that choice. For them, it\u2019s no new boss and no raise, which leads me to conclude bad bosses cause more misery than the IRS, Simon Cowell and impacted wisdom teeth \u2014 combined. Bored with their jobs? Gallup\u2019s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report surveyed 150,000 workers and found only 30% of them are \u201cengaged\u201d in their work. More than half are bored by their jobs, and 18% are chronic whiners who \u201croam the halls spreading discontent.\u201d These malcontents cost the United States $550 billion a year in lost productivity. In addition, a Harris study found that more than half of American workers are looking to change their careers and only 14% feel they\u2019re in \u201cthe perfect job.\u201d Yes, this deplorable situation requires innovative thinking from our visionary executives. When we faced a similar slump in employee morale at a newspaper where I once worked, the publisher commissioned a company-wide attitude survey. Guess what he discovered? Rome was about to be sacked. Confucius \u2014 or maybe it was GE\u2019s Jack Welch \u2014 once said, \u201cThe wise manager does not need an attitude survey. He knows morale is always bad so fire everybody.\u201d 'Whacky Tie Day' The study probably should have landed in a locked file cabinet or a paper shredder. Instead, the great minds of senior management got together with the human resources professionals and developed an EMT program to resuscitate morale. The centerpiece of this initiative was \u201cWhacky Tie Day\u201d along with other \u201cfun\u201d things. We showed up at work wearing the craziest ties in our closets. Since more than 60% of the staff was women, who didn\u2019t wear ties, someone suggested \u201cWhacky Bikini Day,\u201d which certainly would have improved morale for the 40%. But that idea got shot down in the interests of maintaining productivity. Another lesson: Productivity trumps morale every time. Confucius said that. Or maybe it was Lee Iacocca or possibly Homer Simpson. Joe Pisani, who grew up in Shelton, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.