We’ve all had a job.
And that means we’ve all likely had a bad job.
Usually, the reason our jobs are sh^tty are due to who’s managing us. Time and time again, even the most mundane, cr*p jobs can be made better if your boss is in your corner helping you out and rooting for your to succeed. But sometimes it’s not our bosses. It’s our boss’ boss. Because company morale has a lot to do with company culture, and we’ve all seen how quickly that can go south.
Here are 24 jaw-dropping examples of when employers did something to instantly kill employee morale.
1. Impossible Inspection
When I first came onto my new job, it was a mess and they had just completely bombed an inspection. I mean, it was embarrassing and I was only there for a week when it happened. Heads rolled and people were forced out of the organization. I took responsibility for the entire program when the guy in charge of it “retired.” I vowed to myself it wouldn’t happen again. I didn’t tell anyone this, I just took it and ran with it.
After two years of busting my b*tt ensuring it was perfect, we had another inspection. The inspector informed the higher-ups it was not only the best inspection that our unit has ever had but also one of the best he’s seen in 10 years. I was on cloud nine thinking I would get some sort of recognition for it, so I waited… and waited… but nothing. A month went by and my boss and I got called into the head boss’ office only to be told: “The inspector must have missed something or didn’t know what he was talking about because no one person could have fixed all this in two years”. Needless to say, I haven’t been super pumped about going to work lately and I’ve almost given up caring about all the little details.
2. Checks And Imbalances
My boss took a $130 delivery. A month later, the customer disputed the charge on their card. The boss went looking through all the receipts from that day and couldn’t find our signed copy so there was no way to fight it, he just lost $130. He decided it was my coworker’s fault because the receipt was supposed to be in his stack with all his other receipts that day.
But here’s the messed up part: My boss took the delivery so there’s NO WAY he could say, with 100% certainty, that he had that customer sign the receipt and then gave the receipt to my coworker to put in his stack. He’d rather just say it was the other guy’s fault and take his money than admit that he could’ve made a mistake… that screwed my morale up. We don’t get paid much; I see his sales and $130 isn’t anything to him. To us, that’s like 40% of our check.
3. Post-Poned Pregnancy
They asked a pregnant employee if she could postpone her due date because we were short on staff.
The manager was a woman as well.
We were all flabbergasted.
4. Donating Time
An employee got cancer. Rather than giving her the time off she needed, they asked all the other employees to donate paid time off.
Making your employees choose between a much-needed vacation and the life of a co-worker is probably the darkest thing I’ve ever seen.
5. Dream Vacation
My boss pitched a sales incentive trip to Cancun if the team hit their monthly goal. My team exceeded the goal, but they still canceled the trip.
Two people quit, and I accepted a position with their main competitor. Less than a year later, they closed in bankruptcy.
Karma’s a beach.
6. Overseas In Sight
“We’re moving our manufacturing overseas.”
Uh… All we do at this facility is manufacturing.
The news was announced a year before the move and since then, everybody in the company was just unmotivated and unproductive. Though, that may not have been the worst decision—at least it gave people a chance to find new work ahead of time.
7. Quitting Over Questioning
I had a boss that got upset when nobody answered his question quick enough on a conference call.
So he told all of us techs to bring in our uniforms and tools the next day and he would decide who stays and who leaves. He only fired one person that day, but the rest of us found other jobs and quit within the next couple weeks.
He ended up having hundreds of clients and only four techs (his family) to do all the work.
8. A Sickening Sign
A manager put up a poster that said, “Complaining is like vomiting. You feel better but everyone around you feels sick.”
The morale was already bad, but it was just a terrible way to encourage already upset employees.
9. Deflated Steam
We were once in the middle of a very stressful period of work, and everyone was feeling it.
However, one afternoon, an off-hand comment turned into a conversation that we all got involved in and it led to a few laughs. My manager, returning from a meeting, piped up, “Oh, we’ve finished tomorrow’s work, have we? What’s all this about?” The entire team instantly deflated.
Unnecessary. Every employee needs time to blow off a little steam.
10. Empty Desk Syndrome
In a very short span of time, they changed everyone’s 401K plan and also implemented an office-wide cleanliness policy. No eating at your desk. Only three personal items were allowed on your desk. Everything had to be labeled. No items other than your keyboard, mouse, and monitors were allowed on your desk at the end of the day.
Talk about angry. You could feel the gloom when you walked in. Everyone’s ability to care broke at once.
11. Wasting Gas
I used to work at a gas station. Our manager was definitely cheap, but he brought it to a whole new level after he bought another gas station over 50 miles away.
He started scheduling his pre-existing staff from my store to work in his other store. Some of us were still in high school, but he didn’t care. He refused to hire more people.
12. Not Open To Open Plan
I just started a new job that I love. The only problem is they’re converting all of the offices to an open plan. Our area is up next for conversion. Everyone I’ve talked to is against it, and everyone I know that’s currently working in it says it’s terrible. The only people who don’t have to sit in the open plan space are the people who champion it the most, go figure.
I can already see my productivity (and morale) tanking when I’m forced to hear every noise emitted by roughly 200 people in my section of the building.
Open plan offices are the absolute dumbest idea ever conceived.
13. Hell Of A Vacation
The company owner left on a two-week vacation to Chile without telling anyone. It was a small marketing firm with about seven employees. I texted him on Monday morning around 11:30 a.m. asking where he was (he stayed out late drinking pretty frequently and often didn’t roll in until 11:00 a.m.).
He informed me he was on vacation and put me in charge for the next two weeks, probably because I was lucky enough to be the first person to text him. He missed two client meetings and one campaign pitch, all of which went okay without him. I even signed on a new account, had all the paperwork completed and was working on brand new campaign ideas to show him when he returned. He only called twice to check in. He showed up two weeks later and declared that the company was bankrupt and we were all out of jobs. So yeah.
That was an instant morale killer.
14. Caffeine Riot
They replaced all of the soda machines with water and Sobe Life water machines.
There was literally a riot in the break room.
You do NOT deny overnight workers their caffeine.
15. The Chromebook Catastrophe
My school wanted to switch to Chromebooks. So what did they do? One summer while teachers weren’t working, they removed every single Windows station and replaced them with Chromebooks. They were told to simply “figure it out.”
When the teachers came up and asked how they could teach Photoshop, programming, and AutoCAD 3d modeling on Chromebooks, the admin basically Googled for related Chromebook extensions and said, “See? There’s an extension for it and it works!”
They ended up bringing back the desktops for most teachers.
16. Serious About Work
Morale was already rock bottom, but we learned it could go lower when we got told, “I don’t want to see any of you smiling. Smiling means you’re not working because nobody likes work.”
17. Wind And Water
They told the cashiers that they could no longer bring reusable water bottles to work, and instead could only have store-brand water at the registers. So dumb.
They also told us we could not have personal, battery-powered mini fans at the register because it looked “unprofessional.” The store was always warm, especially in summer. It was a miserable two months until they got enough complaints that they put electric mini fans on every register (some of which ended up getting stolen, but that’s beside the point).
18. Pricey Pop
They replaced the 25¢ soda machines with $2 soda machines.
Sometimes when we were pulling overtime well past midnight, that soda machine was the only thing that provided us food since breakfast.
19. Losing On Booze
I worked in a distillery for a few months while trying to figure out what to do with my life. It was fun: the brewers were great, creative, and taught me everything there was to know about the art. They had some great ideas to change up the craft liquor game and were motivated simply by their love of what they did.
Unfortunately, the owner didn’t trust anyone else to do his job. He never ordered any of the brewing supplies on time, barely paid his employees enough to live on, and generally drove the business into the ground despite having a bunch of people willing to help him. The constant distrust between him and even his closest employees just killed any hope they had of trying to turn a sizable profit. Most of them got out of there before things went belly up, but it was just this sad, downward spiral for a long time.
20. Mess Of A Manager
We had a new boss named Ali.
He treated all of his employees like dirt. He refused to order anything until we had absolutely no restock items left. There was never any coffee in stock. He also would pull spoiled and damaged food out of the trash and put it back on the shelf. At some point, I stopped caring.
In fact, everyone did.
I would even give him the middle finger to his back on the sales floor in front of customers and employees. It became a game actually. But I was always waiting for the day when he would screw up big enough that I could report him. Sure enough, one day I ran into him stealing groceries and he told me not to tell anyone or else he would fire me. I dialed corporate immediately.
He was fired the next day.
21. Two Very Different Tales
Due to a lack of coordination, we got two emails back-to-back.
One was from our division president, saying that the economic downturn meant we’d have to tighten our belts, so the traditional sizeable Christmas bonus wasn’t going to happen. Instead, we’d get some gift certificates. For $20.
The second was from the National President, congratulating the division on a record year and inviting the sales staff to a corporate retreat.
22. Wasted Water
My terrible boss blamed me for giving away a water bottle to a very pregnant woman during a heat wave. I was working at a cabin in the forest and was the only staff with water within five kilometers (I was the only one with a mini fridge in my cabin to keep people’s lunches cold). Furthermore, it was a staff bottle, so there was no profit to make there, but she was really annoyed and called the headquarters about the staff “giving away drinks for free.” We had a visit from her boss the next week. I ended up buying six water bottles and putting them in that work fridge to make it up so she would stop being so angry at me. Not the nicest boss I’ve had.
(The cheapest water bottle costs 40 cents in my country, so I am not sure a national company cares about losing that amount.)
23. Sad Secretaries
The new vice president came in and fired both of the secretaries from our purchasing department. These ladies had each been with the company for 25 years and kept things running like clockwork. They were like the cool grandmas in our department, organizing potlucks and giving out birthday cards.
When we got called into a staff meeting to hear that they had been “let go,” people couldn’t believe it. We came back to our desks and found the ladies weeping while trying to pack up their belongings. The whole thing was depressing and drove home the idea that everyone is expendable. Within three months we lost two buyers. About nine months later, when I quit, only three of the original twelve buyers were left.
24. Tortured At Casino Tables
I worked in a casino.
Morale was already very low. Then they added timers and bells to the tables to keep the games constantly going… even when there were no people on the table.
Got a workplace horror story? Want to share it with us?
Do that in the comments!