Posters

In the 1920s a new generation of managers began to use posters to communicate ideas to workers. Posters, like the advertising art on which they were based, combined attractive graphics with clever words to convey managers’ messages. By the 1980s companies began using a new tool—mission statements—reminding workers of corporate values. In a break from the past, many of the modern messages were directed toward mid-level managers, not hourly workers.

Mather and Company work incentive posters

Between World War I and World War II work incentive posters changed significantly, with moralistic messages dominating graphically sophisticated posters. The Chicago printing firm of Mather and Company sold series of such posters to managers of offices and factories. "No matter what posters you select for display," the Mather firm claimed, "morale will be improved, turnover reduced, loyalty stimulated, results and greater profits insured for your firm."  

“Are you afraid of Criticism?” poster, 1923

“Are you afraid of Criticism?” poster, 1923

“The Teamworker!” poster, 1929

“The Teamworker!” poster, 1929

“Have You the Best?” poster, 1923

“Have You the Best?” poster, 1923

“Diving for Success” poster, 1929

“Diving for Success” poster, 1929

“Floaters Always Float Down Stream” poster, 1923

“Floaters Always Float Down Stream” poster, 1923

“Loyalty Always Inspires Confidence” poster, 1923

“Loyalty Always Inspires Confidence” poster, 1923

Mosby-Great Performance work incentive posters

In the 1980s and 1990s, work incentive posters found new uses as managers urged their workers to respond to foreign competition, corporate downsizing, new emphasis on quality, and racial and gender tensions. In a break from the past, many of these contemporary posters were directed toward managers, not hourly workers. The Great Performance company began around 1985 in the health care industry. 

“Strive” poster, 1995

“Strive” poster, 1995

Instructional sign, Imperial Food Products, 1996

Instructional sign, Imperial Food Products, 1996

Gift of Imperial Food Products, Inc.

Mission statement wallet card, AT&T and NCR, around 1995

Mission statement wallet card, AT&T and NCR, around 1995

Gift of Anthony Priest