Being that Worse Than Failure is a web site, just about every story submission we receive comes in through the vast series of tubes known as the “Internet.” Sure, every once in a while the tubes get clogged up with material and cause all sorts of delays, but for the most part the “Internet” is more reliable, much faster, and a lot cheaper than the alternative: the postal system. But I will say that it’s certainly not as fun, as this very first Snail Mail submission from L.T. shows…

L.T. was occasioned to send in her bonus after Free Sticker Week ended. As an aside, there are plenty of free stickers left, available through a simple postal request (details here). I wrote back L.T. and asked her to expand on the story…

A little more than a year ago, The Company was faced with two big problems: the stock had been doing poorly and employee morale was at an all-time low. In a desperate attempt to keep everything together, Management decided to rally the troops and rework the annual bonus plan to include a generous amount of profit sharing. Big meetings were held, executives gave speeches, and with the potential of lots of extra money, everyone all around felt motivated. So much so that many forgot the “fine print” on the profit sharing plan: the bonus was conditional on the Company’s stock price rising a certain percentage in one year.

Throughout the year, everyone from administrative assistants to product managers put in a whole lot of effort. Double shifts, weekend work, you name it. Whatever it took, they did it.

The results were astonishing. Projects were completed ahead of time, sales were through the roof, and, most importantly, investors were happy. As expected, the stock price rose steadily throughout the year. As Bonus Day drew near, there was much speculation as to how nice and padded everyone’s bonus check would be. Employees talked about big screen TV's, family vacations, new cars, and all sorts of other things they could buy with all the extra cash.

However, shortly before Bonus Day, several e-mails were sent by Management to all employees. One e-mail stated that the profit sharing portion of the annual bonus plan was being reworked for the coming year. The second e-mail revealed the sad news that, although the Company's stock was doing very well, it barely missed the requirements set by the profit sharing plan.

Naturally, everyone wanted to know what exactly that meant. As L.T.’s group gathered for their weekly meeting, there was only one topic of conversation. Was Bonus Day going to be late? Was there even going to be a Bonus Day? How much was being deducted from the usual bonus? Is the bonus just keeping our jobs?

L.T.’s boss patiently sat and listened to everyone’s complaints and comments. After a few minutes of chatter, he had decided that Enough Was Enough. The boss cleared his throat and abruptly stood up.

“Here ya go,” he said, tossing each employee something from the contents of his pockets. A dime. A nickel. A few pennies. The boss smiled and said, “Now, let's start the meeting.”

As you might imagine, that didn’t quite help the rapidly sinking morale. The week that followed was filled with conversations about unfairness, angry wives for working all the unpaid overtime, quitting, silently murmuring to burn the place down, and everything else that you’d expect.

Fortunately, Management must have heard some of it. When Bonus Day finally arrived the following week, each employee found a check for the normal bonus amount placed on their desk. An e-mail also arrived, announcing that the profit sharing threshold for the next year had been set lower, as a reward for the employees.

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