Despite workers trying to set better work-life boundaries, it seems like now more than ever, employers are expecting employees to go above and beyond for their job.
Warner Bros. Television Distribution / Via media.giphy.com
Recently, people shared a few workplace horror stories about their boss attempting some "motivational" workplace tactics. Here are a few more:
1."My boss was tired of young people not having high rates of retention in our organization. She decided to have 1:1 meetings with all of us under 40 to 'figure out why millennials don't want to work.' When I explained the insanely high cost of living, she quizzed me on my rent cost, which is more than her mortgage. She then belittled me for 'throwing money away' and went into excruciating detail about where I could find 'great starter homes for $450k' and that I only needed $40k for a down payment. When I explained I didn't even have 10k for a down payment, she stared straight at me, perplexed.
2."Teacher appreciation week every damn year. It's pathetic and very clear that school leaders and administrators have to come up with something that costs practically nothing, which is how we end up getting stale, prepackaged cupcakes and sodas, or a small bag of popcorn, or small bags of chips. I've been working hard all damn year, and you think I feel appreciated because I got a chocolate cupcake and some Doritos? Like, I'd like some fucking supplies for my class, please! How about I get that new whiteboard I wanted since the old one is only screwed to the wall with two screws, and every time someone walks by in the hallway, it rattles like it's going to fall on top of me? How about you buy some screens or curtains for the large windows the district had built into the newest building so that you can see directly into every single classroom as you walk by? (Great during active shooter drills, btw.) NOPE. I get a damn cupcake."
3."I had a boss who was very hardcore about us being at our desks, working every minute we were scheduled. If we arrived on time, we were late because we were supposed to be working at 8 a.m., not arriving at 8 a.m. She left early almost every day, but she would call at 5 p.m. to make sure no one else had left early. Our lunches and breaks were carefully watched, and if we were so much as one minute late, we were docked. One day, she asked me to cut out early with her for drinks, which was so unlike her. We went out for margaritas and had a great time. The next day, she reprimanded me for leaving early. With her."
4."When I worked at a hotel chain, we had a general manager that said if we all worked together and got every department's secret shopper scores over a certain amount, we would all get raises that made us the highest paid whatever we were (I was a bartender then, so the promise was my hourly wage would be the highest of any bartender in the city, and that applied to all departments). We all worked really hard (and that’s a lot of people to get to work that hard!) and we did it for three months straight! Did we get the raise?! Of course not. The general manager used those numbers to get himself a higher paying job at another hotel and left."
5."I had a job that updated the dress code to target people. Women had to wear tights, and I wore a pair that was black with a black rose pattern. Then they said no patterned tights. We had a customer appreciation barbecue, and while voluntarily working in the heat, I removed my blazer and wore my dressy tank top. I was written up for showing my shoulders while simultaneously being thanked for working in the sun all day. I also got in trouble for changing into comfortable clothes to walk on my lunch break even though I was off the clock and used the back bathroom and door so customers didn’t see me."
6."I worked at a newspaper, so there's a hard deadline every night. Immediately after coming in one day, I was hauled into a meeting where my boss informed me that more than half of the desk had called in sick, and no one was available to fill in. Why couldn't the bosses already on site stay late to help, you ask? I asked, too. ... The answer was, 'They just can't.' Anyway, I was told that I and another person were to do the jobs of 6-8 people, and we could not miss the deadline. He then goes, 'Remember that great quote from Apollo 13? It applies here.' I blurted out, 'Houston, we have a problem?' And got the dirtiest look. Apparently, he was going for 'Failure is not an option.'"
7."I worked at an art gallery while working on my master's. I knew the gallery had a high turnover rate, but I was burned out at a job that I used to love. I don't think the higher-ups and the owner knew anything about art; they were too busy sleeping with each other. The owner's inspirational speech was basically taking credit for all of our future goals. My ex caught him snorting coke in the bathroom during the holiday party. And my 'favorite' office policy...we had to clock out every time we used the bathroom, and that time was deducted from our 15-minute break."
8."I was a customer service supervisor for a big telecom call center. In all the years that I worked there, there were always 10 hours of mandatory overtime a week. Supervisors had to work their regular 70 hours and then log into the phones for an additional 10 hours because it was supposed to boost the morale of the employees to see us doing their jobs. What it did was show them that no matter how hard you worked, you would never get off of the phones, so they started having to FORCE people into supervisor positions. I was a trainer and got forced into supervising instead due to the shortage. The turnover for supervisors was 100% at six months. I think the worst part of the whole thing was when we worked the phones, if someone wanted to speak to a supervisor, we would have to tell them that we were supervisors, and they would lose every bit of respect for our position or think we were lying."
9."My company recently conducted an Employee Engagement survey with a variety of questions about how we feel supported and have development opportunities. I love my managers but have major grievances with the corporate leadership. What did they do with this survey? They had US create committees to work on our own solutions ON top of our everyday workload. They also — when suggested that people need more recognition — created a program for us to recognize our peers, which is literally like a Yelp review forum. Not only is it a lame pat on the back, but it absolves leadership from appropriately compensating those who deserve it. Plus, almost no one even sees the comment."
10."The company was losing money, and they laid off one-third of the workers while doubling the workload. Also, any overtime had to be approved in advance, so people had to decide whether to work only eight hours and fall further behind or to work over eight hours and not get paid for the extra time. Then, to boost morale, each department had to make a video touting the benefits of working for the company, to be shot during work hours. Three weeks later, they laid off another one-third of the workers, this time including me. I was never so happy to leave a job in my life!"
11."My job hosted an ice cream social last Sunday, and a few of us girlies asked for non-dairy options as we are all highly allergic to dairy, like, shitting pants allergic to dairy. When the truck pulled up, they didn't even have ice pops for us to have. So, naturally, we didn't attend the social because we couldn't have dairy. My manager flipped out on us for being rude and antisocial and yelled at us in the parking lot for about 40 minutes about not eating ice cream. I felt like I was living in a simulation getting yelled at on company time about not eating ice cream over my allergy. It was truly a wild experience."
12."I had a manager who was so afraid of confrontation, that she remained complacent when an employee was blatantly bullying other employees. This employee was a far-right-wing conspiracy theorist and tried to force her views on us. If we didn’t agree, she used passive micro-aggressive behavior toward that person. She reported people to HR for not wearing makeup. She argued with customers about things. My boss just pretended like nothing was happening. One day, it got so bad that I had several panic attacks at work. She gave me a cookie from her lunch and told me to 'buck up.'"
13."I worked as a housekeeper at a chain motel. The owner would get us a cheap pizza lunch only on our busiest days for morale that was mandatory to attend, then turn it into a two-hour meeting. We were still required to finish our rooms on time, though, as he didn't want to pay any overtime."
14."At my first office job, they canceled Christmas bonuses one year. Then, like three weeks before Christmas, the week when bonuses were usually given out, the CEO sent out this mandatory video we had to watch. It was 30 minutes of the CEO telling us how much the company appreciated the employees and how they wanted to show their appreciation. There were 30 minutes of build-up before they announced what they’d be doing to show their appreciation. Most of us assumed, with the build-up, that they were going to give bonuses after all. Nope. We all got one free piece of company apparel. It was a $20 piece of logo apparel that had probably been sitting in a storage room somewhere and needed to be cleaned out because they announced a logo change the following month."
15."A million team building events that were not during work time and super far from where everyone lived, then they’d get mad when people wouldn’t show up."
16."My old job tried to 'boost our motivation' by having the four directors compete with one another for sales, client retention, and client returns. We were told the person with the lowest numbers would face disciplinary actions. I quit the next day and walked out with the three-finger salute and Hunger Games whistle."
17."The restaurant I work for had horrible turnover, so corp wanted us to talk to our employees to see why morale was so low and turnover was so high. So, I talked to each one of them and took detailed notes on what they had to say. We had a meeting to discuss our findings; at least I thought it was to discuss our findings. They never asked a single question about our findings. Instead, they blamed us for 'not hiring the right people,' not interviewing correctly, or asking the right questions when conducting an interview. I turned around and threw out the findings. I just couldn’t stop laughing about it for days."
18."My department handed out hand-sized mirrors for us to decorate and put on our desks. The point of it was for us to see our facial expressions when we were on the phone with clients and to change our expressions if we catch ourselves getting annoyed or angry. My mirror was left in my drawer. This was one of the many dumb things they would come up with."
19."I worked for a newspaper in outside sales. It was miserable. They decided to give summer Fridays where you could leave at 3:30 instead of 5:30. If you dared to try to leave at 3:30, the manager would come out and tell you that it looked bad that you were leaving early and to stay until 5:30. That wasn’t as bad as when my manager texted me at my dad’s funeral to see if I was done with my three bereavement days."
20."We had several hundred employees on mandatory OT for a couple of weeks. HR asked the managers for some low-cost ideas to thank them for their hard work. I suggested thank you cards, personalized, hand-written, and signed and delivered by the management team. It was something thoughtful that could be saved and shown to family or friends, and something that we clearly put a bit of effort into producing for them. Several managers liked the idea, but one of the senior managers complained about having to sign so many cards (it worked out to each manager writing 80 or so cards, with all of us signing each one). So, I found out later HR modified the plan.
21."My previous company used to have mental health awareness week. One of the activities they used to do was lunch and learn. Not providing you with lunch, mind you. Just expecting you to dial into a meeting during your lunch hour to talk to you about better mental health. I pointed out the inherent problem with this during a feedback session, but they still did the same thing next year."
22."She would watch us on camera (it was a bank), and if we sat down more often or for a longer amount of time than she deemed appropriate, she would just take away the chairs entirely. She banned downtime and would pop up behind us and look at our computer screens to make sure we were working on company side projects if no customers were present. She literally expected 100% productivity with zero downtime. She also banned having a drink, unless it was clear water in a sealed, company logo water bottle. We literally weren’t allowed to have morning coffee unless we wanted to pour it into the water bottle.
"She was also big on forced fun, and would awkwardly try to pal around with us at company events, even though she had to know how hated she was. She chose an office right by the restrooms so that she could monitor the length and frequency of our restroom breaks, and would make awkward eye contact with us on the way in and out of the restroom. She also assigned a mandatory reading of Who Moved My Cheese?, but wouldn’t let us read it on the clock or discuss it with each other like in a book club. We could only discuss the book with her, and there was a lot of pressure to express only positive takeaways from it. She was the worst!"