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10 Ways to Demoralize Your Employees

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Ways to Demoralize Employees

So, you want to ruin your business?

Morale is important to any organization or business. This article lists 10 ways to demoralize your employees and ruin your team's efforts. Why motivate your staff? These foolproof, time-tested strategies will help you reduce staff morale and run your otherwise thriving enterprise into the ground!

1. Pay New Employees More Than Old Ones

Pay new employees with little or no experience more money than experienced staff. This is a good one. When your employees find out—and they will—they will get angry. Morale will really drop.

Your current employees will be the ones that will be required to train them. So, when they find out the new employee makes 50 cents, a dollar, hundreds, maybe thousands more, resentment will surface in the older employees and affect the new employee, too. A bonus result will be that it will affect the cohesion of your staff and further decrease morale!

2. Pretend Nothing's Wrong

Never discuss perceived problems with your employees. Listen to hearsay and third-party reports about them. Make decisions based on the situation without any discussion with the employees involved. Morale will plummet when the staff gets wind of it.

3. Make Arbitrary Decisions

Make arbitrary decisions on issues and change the decisions for no reason over time. This keeps the bar moving! Disregard company policies and make new ones. Never issue a memo about the change. This will keep workers on edge, and they will worry about whether or not they are violating an invisible policy. Changing company policy with no warning and never putting it in writing is an effective strategy for reducing company morale.

4. Issue Memos That Make the Job Harder

Instead of dealing with the offending workers, issue memos that burden all employees. Let the employee that caused a problem off the hook. Make the jobs of compliant workers harder by adding more work or steps to complete the job.

Even better, make the faithful employees do the work of the offending worker! This will anger and confuse employees about violations of policy. The resulting consequences of such actions will be unclear. Inconsistent enforcement of company policy will really demoralize your employees!

5. Keep a Tally of Offenses

Keep a running tally of offenses against employees and punish them for every infraction. Spread ill will by speaking condescendingly to them in public. Never let the employees that you feel aren't up to snuff know it. Always communicate with superior and judgmental tones and attitudes toward your staff. Send out harsh, condescending emails to staff that displease you. Morale will fall exponentially.

6. Ignore Employees

Ignore employees in social situations and then ignore them when you see them at work. Pretend you never saw them in that bar and still don’t see them in the office. This will really bother them and affect other staff when the one you ignored tells the other employees of your actions.

7. Micromanage Everyone

Try to control and micromanage middle-level supervisory staff and employees. Never let supervisors make decisions. Always second-guess them. Continuously monitor their actions and whereabouts. Let them know that no decision they make is ever final. Reserve the right to override all they do. This will impact morale negatively when the other employees see this happening. If they see that supervisors are insecure in their job, this will also make them feel insecure while on duty.

8. Ignore Suggestions

Ignore staff suggestions to improve work conditions. Scoff at any suggestion that they know more about the job than you do. Better yet, set up a panel to gather information to make improvements and then reject them out of hand. Communicate that any changes will be made only by you and that employees' opinions are worthless.

9. Fail to Make Repairs

Fail to repair facility shortcomings such as leaking faucets, running toilets, broken steps, etc. This will demoralize staff every time they have to clean up drips and shake toilet handles to stop them from running. Let the staff try to talk over exhaust fans that roar and don’t do the job anyway. Every time they trip on that broken step or step in the hole in the sidewalk, they will feel that what they do isn't important. Morale again will take a nice hit!

10. Fail to Enforce Mandatory Meetings

Call for mandatory training classes with only a few days' notice. This will make cause employees to make or change plans. Also, arbitrarily enforce the mandatory part of attendance. The staff that makes sacrifices to be there will see that others are absent. This will demoralize them. The effect will double when the staff that missed the meeting informs the rest of the staff that he was never even called about the absence by management. Remember, mandatory meetings are only mandatory for those that attend!

Evaluate Your Own Practices

Clearly, I am not advocating this demoralizing behavior to any manager or business operation. These 10 ways to demoralize your employees are meant to poke fun at ill-conceived policies and behaviors rampant in some organizations. I have written this with tongue-in-cheek.

Staff morale is the lifeblood of any enterprise. My hope is that you would take the time to evaluate your business or organization to see if any of the behaviors and practices are lurking in your office. Why motivate your employees? Your employees will thank you and reward you with better service and increased productivity.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on April 18, 2017:

Carmen. Oh my, I missed your comment until now. Sorry you are distraught. Is there a District Manager? Sounds like you need a new job. I think any job is better than one where you are made to feel worthless. Work on your resume. Good luck my friend!

Carmen on April 08, 2017:

Oh my word! I am going thru this at work each day of my life!! I'm a Sales Consultant at a Gym. I even resigned because I know I am being demoralized by my Assistant Sales Manager on a regular basis. My Sales Manager didn't want to accept my "resignation"! Up until now I am still being demoralized by my Assistant Sales Manager! Please help me, Urgently who do I speak to in my work place? This is having a serious negative impact on my life....

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on March 28, 2017:

Thanks Paula. I appreciate your kind comments and the encouragement to Yves. I believe it doesn't take much more effort to be a true leader. It takes more effort getting demoralized workers motivated than making them that way from the start!

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on March 28, 2017:

Thanks so much Yves for your comments. Sadly, the behavior you describes is far too common--from supervisors and coworkers both. Yes, not too often funny, but humor sometimes relieves some tension. Sorry for your difficulties. I hope they can be resolved.

savvydating on March 27, 2017:

Thanks Paula.....And it wasn't the first time this woman insulted me----she's actually quite strange. Frankly, she creeps me out, but her work is quite good, even if her attitude stinks.

But yes, I have documented things and saved emails, etc. & transferred them to a personal email account. (Although some firm emails have disappeared. Hmmm.)

Anyway, I'll keep waiting for my chance to make my point, since even the HR Director has given my supervisor a pass. Neither will I get any help from my co-workers, as they enjoy gossip and are (I'm sorry to say) somewhat spineless. isn't always fair. If it gets to the point where I have to bring a lawsuit, well then, I guess that's what I'll have to do. But for now, I'm doing alright. I'll just continue to maintain my professionalism.

Suzie from Carson City on March 27, 2017:

This hub is definitely worth circulating again. Sorry I missed it first time around. Amusing in terms of tongue in cheek and you made a firm point. Employers often do not "lead" as they should to the benefit of all employees or remain aware of troubling morale beginning to brew.

Rules, regulations and all policies must be printed, read & signed by all. Concerns and questions need to be addressed in a timely fashion and most importantly mandatory meetings should be held monthly!

Yves, what you have dealt with is 100% unacceptable and should never be brushed aside under any circumstance. Frankly, your supervisor's feeble defense of the particular employee is outrageous. The simplest of minds knows full well what "harassment" is without it being spelled out. It's also common knowledge that there is zero tolerance for harassment in the workplace. What exactly is she not FAMILIAR with? Common sense?

Having said this, your best recourse is to remain a productive and professional employee as you DOCUMENT daily what you perceive as blatant disregard of rules & policies (not to mention common courtesies!) by others. When you have built a solid case for the big boss to be informed, request a private meeting along with one or 2 other employees who feel as strongly as you do about necessary changes.

In my years of experience, it is employees like yourself that maintain and produce, while remaining ethical who reap success as others fall out. Paula

savvydating on March 27, 2017:

A co-worker of mine emailed me and cc'd others to literally and quite viciously slander my name after I asked her very politely, to follow a policy which the Supervisor had just covered the day before. I wouldn't have cared except her carelessness directly affected my work.

And what did the three supervisors she had included in the email say? NOTHING! I had to take the matter higher. Even then, my own Supervisor told me that she was not familiar with the firm's policy on harassment, nor was she familiar with Civil Rights laws on harassment (after I asked her). Can you believe that? Talk about destroying my morale. But I'm still here. Not giving up that easy. You have to wonder what employers are thinking...Sheesh!

Anyway, I enjoyed this tongue n' cheek piece. It made me smile, even though the reality is not at all funny.

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on January 22, 2017:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Jennifer. Yes, managing people is a challenge. Most of these can be avoided easily. though. Hopefully, some employees can be spared some frustration if their supervisor s apply some of these pointers!

Jennifer Mugrage from Columbus, Ohio on January 22, 2017:

Ouch. Yes, I have been on the receiving end of some of these ... and done a few of them, too, to be honest. Sometimes the reason is that the boss is inexperienced, shy, or lacks social skills or confidence in his/her authority ... managing people is HARD! I hope many employers out there can use this handy article to improve their management skills.

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on January 26, 2015:

Wow! Wonderful Joseph Lieberman! Interesting way to get his message across. Hopefully, the compliments will continue. It's a shame that employers and managers can't apply positive approaches for motivating employees. Thanks again for adding your comments! :o)

Joseph Lieberman on January 26, 2015:

Just a follow up,

My buddy went to work the next day after his demoralization. While he, the manager and 6 other veteran employees were opening the safe and putting Jewelry into the display cases,,, he calmly but loudly said to his coworker "Dave do you know what it means to be demoralized, Dave said yeah, but why do you ask. My buddy said well after I got home last night I looked it up on the internet "workplace demoralization" and I discovred that it's a standard procedure that companies do to employes. They do it so that you will always feel unworthy to ask for a raise. Every employee was listening and they all woke up.

There is more to the story but basicly it started a riot (figuratively speaking) the bosses ears turned red and he only gave out compliments and said positive things all day after that...

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on January 25, 2015:

Joseph Lieberman, I'm so sorry that your friend had this negative experience. It is unfortunate that employers subscribe to such unproductive practices. It is great that you could serve to encourage him. Thanks for reading and your kind comments. A sense of humor is essential to survive sometimes.



Joseph Lieberman on January 25, 2015:

I just spent two hours on the phone "Re-moralizing" my friend...

His employer gave him a "random" review/evaluation. Basicly they tell you you have only part of the time met sales goals etcetera..

It's all very calculated and structured the way it goes down...

But now that I explained to hi. What was really happening he felt much better.

While talking to him I said I'm sure tui is on the internet. I typed in a search "employe demoralization" and found your well written and aprapropriate article..

Entertaining and reinforcing of the truth.

Thank you.

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on January 15, 2015:

Sorry to hear of the troubles you and your husband have experienced. I don't know why MarGa. You'd think companies would want employees that are satisfied at work. It's a mystery to me. Thanks for commenting!

MarGa on January 15, 2015:

Why are so many companies practicing these negative strategies now? It is being taught as a mainstream HR policy. It is becoming a commonplace occurrence. It's happened to me, my husband and many friends. Moral was so low at my husband's workplace due to these practices, they brought in a speaker to deal with Negativity in the Workplace and nearly had a riot on their hands!

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on April 14, 2013:

Ensuela Hysnelaj thanks for your kind comments--glad you found it humorous. Truthfully, it is a said commentary on the state of morale in many businesses; at least for most businesses I have worked for in the past. Hopefully, some business owner can utilize the message of this Hub to save themselves and employees from grief. Thanks again for stopping by!

Ensuela Hysnelaj on April 14, 2013:

This is well written. Usually we are used to read things that should be done to motivate staff. Reading about actions that demotivate employees is a different experience and little bit funny. While I was reading this, I was smiling and thinking "yes, is right". Don't Do behaviors is a good way to learn as well.

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on March 10, 2013:

Yes--very sad..I'm sure we have all put up with this from employers. I want to send them a copy of this hub. LoL. Thanks for reading and commenting!

carozy from San Francisco on March 10, 2013:

Voted funny and it's sad because it's sometimes true.

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on February 08, 2013:

Thanks for your kind words rajan jolly and your vote! Unfortunately, I have experienced them all---a few time simultaneously at the same job! Wish I didn't... I'm hoping it helps at least one employer see the error of his ways and I hope he lets me know that he repented from his demoralizing practices! Here's to hoping!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 08, 2013:

aj, you hit the nail on the head, with this brilliant hub and I enjoyed the tongue in cheek humor. I've been at the receiving end on a couple of points you make so I know what you are saying.

Brilliant work, my friend! Voted up and funny.

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on January 30, 2013:

Yes--my current boss does that, too. Nothing in writing--everything is arbitrary...sad. I could probably add another ten. lol. :o) Thanks for your comment.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on January 30, 2013:

I have run into some of these. Another one is to not define the scope and limits of responsibilities. On one job, I was never told what was expected in dealing with customers. There were exceptions to rules, but I was not told what they were. I asked my boss what the policy was. He said "there is no policy." The truth iss there is always a policy, they just don't tell the employee what it is.

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on January 24, 2013:

Thanks for your kind comments Patty Inglish, MS. Sadly, you are right--not sure why some guys and gals that are in charge just don't get it! Yes, these come from personal experience. Employers want good work and good workers but aren't willing to treat them right.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on January 24, 2013:

I like this very much. Many of us have worked at places where at least of few of these things occurred and sometimes, all at once. What a world of work we have!