Five Ways to Really Tick Off Your Employees

A recent survey from Adecco Group North America highlights the increased dissatisfaction workers in America have with their employers. According to the survey:

  • 54% of employees plan to look for a new job as soon as the economy turns around.
  • Sentiment is even stronger among younger workers. Of those ages 18-29, 71% say they are likely to look for new jobs once the economy turns around.

These numbers should not be shocking, as most of us know at least one person who will be jumping ship as soon as they can. Employees appear to be getting angrier everyday and their employers keep throwing more wood into the fire. If you really want to heat things up, then be sure to do the following:

1. Daily reminders - Remind employees how lucky they are to have a job. Do this on a daily basis. Tell them how fortunate they are to be receiving a paycheck. Never mind their check is 10% less than what they originally signed up for. Remember to include this reminder at your weekly meetings, when you take them out to lunch to thank them for their efforts, and at this year’s office party.

2. Freeze raises and bonuses – Jump on the bandwagon. Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t you? Doesn’t matter if your profits are soaring or if your employees know you’ve had your best year ever. This is a great time to reign in costs, even if your costs are already in line.

3. Renege on your promises – You told people their reduction in pay would be temporary. However, you now view these changes as permanent. Of course you’ve decided not to tell anyone, until they ask.

4. Put a moratorium on promotions – Ask people to do the work of those who have been let go, and insist on holding back a title change and pay increase. Call this "self-development," since you are giving people a wonderful opportunity to increase their skills. Something few employers seem to be doing.

5. Send out mixed messages – Tell your employees they are your most valuable asset. Then remind them that everyone is replaceable. Just to prove your point, be sure to replace a highly respected member of your team, with someone who is less experienced and less expensive.

It’s time to get back to basics. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Then you can begin the lengthy process of rebuilding trust in your organization. Or, you can continue as if business is as usual and watch your employees flee the minute the economy shows signs of recovery.


Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Human Resource Solutions

Visit our newly updated web site
to learn how your organization can leverage generational workforce challenges into opportunities.

Subscribe to our free monthly electronic newsletter, jammed with resources, articles, and tips by clicking:

Visit Generation Integration blog:

Add New Comment


  • Roberta Matuson


    I don't believe you can lay this all on HR. This scenario is playing out all across America and includes small businesses, many without HR. I also believe you are giving way too much credit to HR. In many organizations, HR is merely there to carry out the wishes of senior management. Right there that's another problem, which could be an entire book as well.

    I do agree that most companies fail to invest in their hiring processes and therefore they make lots of avoidable hiring mistakes. I see a huge difference when I work with my clients on designing behavioral-based interviewing programs for their organizations and we train all hiring managers in how to hire for fit. These managers become confident in their hiring decisions. They no longer "just want to get it over with" so they take the time to wait until they've met the right candidate before pulling the trigger. These managers are also no longer afraid to admit they've made a hiring mistake because they are confident they can do better if they need to replace this person. Lastly, they no longer make offers unless they can answer they can honestly say that this person is the best person for the job. Pretty powerful results.

    Pam, thank you for sharing your comments. I agree that we can all do more to make people feel valued and in most cases it won't cost a dime.


  • pamelahawley

    Roberta, thank you for wise advice, as we can never rest on our laurels regarding the appreciation of anyone in our lives.

    There are many different factors, which incentivize and inspire each team member. It's important to have not only general values that appreciate an employee, but also specific ways that appeal to them. Some like flexibility in when they work; some like to work virtually; some would prefer higher financial compensation, regardless of the work structure; some value Paid Time Off and Unpaid Time Off, as providing balance in life. Sometimes it may be as simple as getting off work early one day to catch a class regarding an outside interest.

    Thank you for reminding us to appreciate and value each person on the pathway of worklife together. No matter how challenging the economic time, we can always do more to make people feel valued. It's the continued, step-by-step positive interactions that build longterm relationships.


    Pamela Hawley
    Founder and CEO

    Living and Giving

  • Chris Reich

    This article is right on the money. An entire book could be written on this subject.

    First of all, I'm going to make a rather negative but necessary comment. Most of these problems (listed above) issue forth from Human Resources. HR, in my opinion is the least business capable division of most companies. HR also tends to jump on every trend and fad that passes by unless upper management simply says 'no'.

    To fix the above problems, start with that awful, 70's term, Human Resources. Sounds like scrap metal or waste product. Change the name of the HR division to "Talent" and treat PEOPLE accordingly.

    Next, companies have become fearful of firing bad people. Get over it. If you have a lot of bad people to fire, it means you are making hiring mistakes (HR?). Get rid of the duds so you can take better care of the good people. When the good people see that you actually recognize the difference, they'll be more loyal.

    Tell the truth. HR has become the Ministry of Propaganda. Show some courage and tell the truth. Don't just serve as management's mouthpiece.

    Start programs to give employees avenues of communication for improving the company. No, a box on the wall labeled 'Suggestions' doesn't count. People want to heard and valued.

    Finally, HR needs to stand up for employees at meetings. Don't whine about "they won't like this" but rather, "That's not right, we can do better for our talent."

    Where to start? Dump that dirty old term HR.

    Chris Reich