3 ways we really piss our employees off

January 15, 2019
Employee Engagement

My 17 year-old daughter Chloe absolutely hates hypocrites. In fact, as she tells me over and over again, “they really piss me off.”

Is she young and naive? Yes. Is she wrong? No. Is she alone in her thinking? Absolutely not!

Then why do we so often act as hypocrites with our employees? Why do we say one thing to them, and then turn around and do something entirely different? Don’t we know the damage we’re causing by, quoting my daughter again, pissing them off?!

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as I’m starting to see the world of work through the eyes of my daughter, as well as being surrounded by a workforce full of millennials.

For this reason I’ve decided to write a two-part blog on the things that really piss our employees off. The three listed below come directly from situations I’ve had with Chloe, who at 17 is new to the job market. However, that doesn’t or shouldn’t really matter because I’m sure there are others in our companies who feel the same way.

1. Do we call candidates back when we say we will?

This is where my conversation with Chloe started, with her complaining about how a recruiter promised they’d call her by the end of the day to let her know if she got the job. A week later they finally called her back to offer her the job. Did she take it? Absolutely not, there was no way she was going to work for a hypocrite!

The impact of this is that we lose quality employees. And why not? Their first impression of us is that we care so little about them that we can’t spare the 5 minutes it would take to call them, even if it is to say that they don’t have a decision yet?

The solution to this one is simple, if you tell a candidate you’re going to call them, call them! It’s not rocket science, just do it!

2. Do we show our employees we appreciate them?

Showing employees we appreciate them by recognizing them is an area that Chloe knows a lot about. She’s either heard me talk about what I’m doing with employees at my companies, or sharing stories I’ve heard by talking to other companies as research for my books or blogs.

For this reason she was even more pissed off when her boss at a previous job told her he appreciated her, and then day-after-day did little to nothing to show her he did. To make it worse, one day a customer came up to tell her that he appreciated all she had done to help, and then watched as he went to tell her manager the same thing.

Perfect, she told me, he’ll finally tell me that he appreciates me. But he never did, so instead she came home angry, and, you got it, pissed off! And a week later, she left this job.

The solution to this one is to tackle the obstacles in the way that hold back recognition, helping our managers understand the power it has over employees and the business, and give them tools and coach them to deliver on this. No more excuses, it’s time that we all get out there and show our employees we appreciate them.

3. Do we pay our employees in a human way?

This last one may seem a bit odd, but the reason I’m listing it is because of a recent event. What happened was that Chloe came home and told me that she had no money because she’d loaned all of hers to her boyfriend. When I asked her why, she said it was because he is paid monthly and she is paid weekly. So in her mind, she had less time not to have money than him, so it was the right thing to do.

She then when on to tell me how ridiculous it was that a company would pay monthly, caring so little for their employees that they put them in financially challenging situations. As I tried to explain to her why companies do this, for in fact I had in the past changed payrolls from weekly to monthly quite a few times, I became embarrassed by my past actions. For yes it saved the company money and time, but in return we were pissing our employees off but making their lives more difficult. Had we thought of this when making these important decisions?

The solution to this one is not as straightforward as the others, for I do know that there is a cost associated with making changes when it comes to payroll. But what I would say is that if we want our employees on our side, putting their all into their jobs, we need to be more conscious and sensitive to their needs in all of our HR practices. We need to challenge ourselves to understand the true impact of what we decide to do, and if possible find solutions where we can balance the needs of the company and the employees. Our employees expect us to do it, so get out and do it!

So that’s the end of this first of my two-part blog. If you’d like to share anything that you think should be on the next list, please contact me. Until then, I wish you all the best in engaging your employees and not pissing them off!

About Debra

I’m an author, speaker and consultant (or what I like to call ‘pay it forward’ specialist) with over 20 years experience as a global HR leader, working for companies such as Gap Inc., Quintiles, Merlin Entertainment and Reward Gateway.

I’ve published two books, Build it: A Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement and Effective HR Communication: A Framework for Communicating HR Programs with Impact.

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© 2018 Debra Corey.

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