Inspiring jaded employees, especially those long-term employees who have seen too many scandals and ineffective, overly paid managers, isn't an easy task. It takes a revision in thinking and a dedication to changing a company's culture, as Stever Robbins points out in Inspiring Jaded Employees today on HBS Working Knowledge.
Robbins suggests a CEO or company owner do a few things to turnaround sour employees, including:
Making a visible sacrifice for the company good, like cutting your own salary and giving it back to the people who work for you.
Discover your employees emotionally important goals by asking revealing questions, like "What's important about the work you do?", and find ways to incorporate them into their jobs.
Ask them to describe their perfect jobs, but don't promise anything. Listen for how you might help them achieve it.
Be vigilant in helping your employees attain their goals. Be available as a resource, and help them find ways to grow.