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December 13, 2017

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Don't Treat Employees Like Children

Half of all employees believe management does not treat employees with respect or dignity.

Part 1 - THE PROBLEM:

I have a friend who works in the back office of a large health care organization. She works with about 25 other college-educated employees who are responsible for processing medical records. Here are three memos she recently received from management:

"Just a reminder to take care of all personal matters before you punch in. This includes personal hygiene, morning beverages or food, or any other personal task that is not directly work related. You should not be attending to any of these matters once you have punched in to start your work day."

"I RESPECTFULLY ASK THAT EACH OF YOU PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR WORK AND IF YOU SHOULD HEAR SOMEONE ELSE'S PERSONAL BUSINESS, THAT YOU IGNORE WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD."

"DRESS CODE - THE DRESS CODE IS FOR EVERYONE TO FOLLOW… IF YOU ARE UNSURE WHETHER OR NOT YOUR OUTFIT MEETS THE REQUIREMENTS, IT PROBABLY DOESN'T… WE ARE BUSINESS CASUAL… IF EVEN ONE PERSON CANNOT FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES, THEN EVERYONE WILL DRESS BUSINESS."

(These are verbatim transcripts of the three memos including the capitalization.)

Are you as incensed about these correspondences as I am? Memos like these are downright insulting and degrading to employees.

Part 2 - WHAT CAN BE DONE:

  1. Treat Employees as Individuals

    Don't send blanket emails and threats to all employees. Even in organizations where a high level of teamwork is important, employees must be managed individually.

  2. Apply Discipline to Individuals Not Teams

    If there is a problem with an employee's conduct, dress, or use of company time, talk to that person individually. Use the organization's performance management and discipline processes. That's what they're for.

  3. Recognize that Employees Have Lives Outside of Work

    There is no excuse for blatantly abusing company time. But is receiving a periodic call from a spouse or child really so terrible? Is checking in with a childcare provider cheating your employer? I don't think so.

  4. Treat Employees as Adults

    Eating a two-hour full course meal during work hours is probably inappropriate, but is sipping coffee or soda at your desk a violation of company time? Again, I don't think so.

  5. Remember the Golden Rule

    Give employees the same level of respect and dignity that you would want to be shown yourself.

- Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D.

Bruce Katcher, PhD is President of Discovery Surveys, Inc. His firm conducts customized employee opinion and customer satisfaction surveys. Learn more at www.DiscoverySurveys.com. He can be reached at BKatcher@DiscoverySurveys.com or 888-784-4367.