A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“Yo mama is so fat, when she went skydiving she caused an eclipse” (8/20)
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“Solar energy is just nuclear energy from a safe distance” (8/20)
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Entry from April 15, 2012
“Firings will continue until morale improves” (personnel policy joke)

"The firings/floggings/beatings will continue until morale improves” is a humorous saying that has been put on many signs and plaques. The business/office use of the saying “Firings will continue until morale improves” has been cited in print since at least 1974.

The saying might have originated in the navy. The Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations (1966) by Robert Debs Heinl includes, “There will be no liberty on board this ship until morale improves.—Excerpt from Plan of the Day, USS * * *.” “No leave until morale improves” has been cited in print since at least 1967.


Wikipedia: The beatings will continue until morale improves
“The beatings will continue until morale improves” is a famous quotation of unknown origin. It literally denotes how morale, such as within a military unit or other hierarchical environment, will be improved through the use of punishment. More importantly, the phrase is used sarcastically to indicate the counterproductive nature of such punishment or excessive control over subordinates such as staff in the workplace or children living at home.

Origin
The most commonly cited story for the origin of the phrase comes from the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II. Supposedly, the phrase was first used by a commander of the Japanese Submarine Force.

Google Books
Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations
By Robert Debs Heinl
Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Inst.
1966
Pg. 197:
There will be no liberty on board this ship until morale improves.
Excerpt from Plan of the Day, USS * * *

Google Books
House of Commons Debates, Official Report
Canada. Parliament. House of Commons
Issue 1, Volume 14
1966
Pg. 14,511:
Part of the daily orders reads as follows: There will be no leave until morale Improves. The words “no leave until morale improves” have been underlined by the person who sent this excerpt to the Darmouth Free Press.

Google News Archive
31 March 1967, Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Star-Phoenix, “Diefenbaker warms to task on unifacation, monarchy,” pg. 3, col. 6:
He produced a copy of the daily order list from HMCS Saguenay and read part of it: “There will be no leave until morale improves.”

16 January 1974, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Remoulade” by Howard Jacobs, sec. 1, pg. 11, col. 2:
LIFTED NIFTY: Hanging in a downtown office is this ominous cution: FIRINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES. ("Choupique" quoting Roy Perrin.)

Google Books
Mountain Life & Work
Council of the Southern Mountains Inc.
Volumes 55-56
1979
Pg. ?:
A desk sign currently on the market to brighten your day reads, “Firings will continue until morale improves.”

Google Books
The Psychology of Winning
By Denis Waitley
New York, NY: Berkley Books
1986, ©1979
Pg. 74:
Rather than saying “Firings will continue until morale improves” or “I’ll divorce you unless you stop drinking” ... motivate with “I’ve been observing your performance and want you to know how encouraged I am with your progress” or “There’s a great play at the civic theater. Let’s go there instead of the country club Saturday.”

Google Books
Top Performance:
How to develop excellence in yourself and others

By Zig Ziglar
New York, NY: Berkley Books
1987, ©1986
Pg. 140:
“The Firings Will Continue Until Morale Improves”

Google News Archive
30 June 1988, Prescott (AZ) Courier, “Legislators race to finish the session,” pg. 1B, col. 2:
“The floggings will continue until morale improves,” said a sign posted outside the Senate minority caucus room.

5 March 1989, Mobile (AL) Press Register, “Dockside” by George Werneth, pg. 2D, col. 3:
FLOGGINGS TO CONTINUE
A poster circulated at the State Docks shows a cat-o’-nine-tails and says, “The floggings will continue until the morale improves.”

6 May 1990, Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, “A crescendo of harmony, discord for Atlanta Symphony,” pg. L1:
An anonymous note tacked on the orchestra’s backstage bulletin board earlier this season: “The floggings will continue until the morale improves.”

Google Books
Punished by Rewards:
The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s, praise, and other bribes

By Alfie Kohn
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.
1993
Pg. 136:
An ironic motto posted in some offices and schools perfectly captures the illogic of this retrograde approach to management: THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES.

Google Books
No Fear Management:
Rebuilding trust, performance, and commitment in the new American workplace

By Harry Chambers andRobert Craft
Boca Raton, FL: St. Lucie Press
1998
Pg. 56:
We have all seen the cartoon of a flogging with the caption “The beatings will continue until morale improves” — a reflection of the Third Reich managers mentality.

Google News Archive
8 December 2002, The Island Packet (Beaufort, SC), “Federal education law has some unfair burdens: One size does not fit all in measurement of success” (editorial), pg. 14A, col. 1:
Another facet of the new law is mindful of the old joke: “The beatings will continue until the morale improves.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (0) Comments • Sunday, April 15, 2012 • Permalink