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Micromanage, change the rules, play games, lower pay: an HR memo on how to get employees to quit

workplace bullying shaming

I've been an employment lawyer for more than ten years. Before that, when I applied to the Massachusetts bar at age 30 and had to list every single job I previously held, it topped twenty.

In my first attorney job as a legal aid lawyer, with substantial loans and low pay, I waited tables nights and weekends. From working in retail and restaurants to different office and lawyer jobs, I have been around the block when it comes to American workplaces.

Even still, I found the piece "10 Simple Ways to Get an Employee to Quit," written by someone in human resources, atrocious and an awful indictment of American workplaces and employer good will.

In recommending some tactics in order to get an employee to quit, the HR author suggests:

  • lower their pay;

  • micromanage them;

  • "give contradictory instructions";

  • "play favorites";

  • "change the rules";

  • "let[] a bully run rampant";

  • be "absent all the time, impossible to contact, and cause their projects to get held up because you're not around to sign off or approve anything. Come in late, but be sure to punish employees for the same behavior";

  • "Demand success in areas the person wasn't trained or hired for."

That this "list" is public in a major online magazine -- and "hearted" so far several times on the one tweet that I happened to across -- is, again, just atrocious. It essentially advocates that full-on shame be used as a tool to humiliate and frustrate an employee enough to quit.

Whether the immediate perpetrator of the shame is the bullying coworker, the boss, or the employee himself who can't stand the idea of not being able to complete his work with success and dignity, it is the employer here who is the puppeteer, pulling the cords of shame as a tactic to humiliate and frustrate a subordinate employee.

I speak with employees all the time who are burned out and hurting. They have worked their hearts and heads out, and are now encountering the above type conduct. I myself have been in a similar position.

Do not take the legal advice in the article suggesting that this is ok. If an employer is playing games with your pay, that could violate the law. If they are changing the rules, permitting bullying, or playing favorites, all of this could come up against employment discrimination or leave laws.

If this is happening to you, before you quit -- as the HR author is hoping -- contact me to discuss your possible options.

Doorways Employment Law specializes in employment law counseling, strategic advice and representation to individuals and businesses across Massachusetts, including with respect to performance reviews, performance improvement plans, and planning for reasonable accommodations, taking family medical leave, or separation from employment. Contact Doorways Employment Law for an employment law consultation.

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