7 Fairy Tales Companies Tell Employees

 In Employee engagement, Employee Satisfaction, Employees, Leadership, Leadership Development

Fairy tales live and breathe in corporations. Here is one. In employee engagement surveys, one of the top areas of complaints is communication. The number one skill most CEOs say helped them get to the top is their ability to communicate. That is quite a gap in perception! Here are seven other common ‘fairy tales’, where companies say one thing and often do another, that are detrimental to employee retention and engagement.

The Top 4 Fairy Tales

Employees are our most valuable assets

Worldwide only 15% of employees are engaged. How can employees be the company’s greatest assets when most do not really like what they are doing or where they are doing it? Most companies treat employees as a small cog in a large wheel. Enough said.

Customers are our #1 priority

I travel frequently and see the best and worst of how companies treat their customers. The poor experiences overwhelm the best. For example, these companies below say they are customer oriented, but an ACSI survey proves they are not. Just like thousands of others that claim superior service, but pay only lip service to it.

  • United – Their slogan is Flyer-friendly.
  • Wal-Mart – Their website says it has leadership through service.
  • AOL – World class content and experience for consumers is the claim, and the CEO upsets employees over poorly handled health care cuts which aggravates their problems.

Finally, research shows employee engagement drives customer engagement. With so many dissatisfied employees, everyday millions of customers worldwide get sub-par service as a result.

We believe in work-life balance

https://rickconlow.com/product/real-time-learning-training/Following an earlier phone call that I had with a client manager, he texted me at 7:30 pm and said he could not talk to me because he was on phone conferences all day and was on a new one now. Another manager I talked to was on the road ten of the last twelve weeks with no break in sight. The managers of another client work 12-14-hour days routinely. Here is the kicker: every one of these organizations say that they support work-life balance. However, if you as an employee try to maintain a sense of work life balance, it is reflected negatively in your performance review. Jack Welch, former GE CEO says, “There’s no such thing as Work- Life Balance . There are work- life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”

We pay based on performance

With the pandemic and Great Resignation pay increases are greater in many organizations. Companies are doing this out of necessity not kindness. According to Kiplinger data, top performers will receive about double the average pay hike. Inflation is at an all time high, and with health care costs rising for employees. Consequently, most employees are going backwards financially, regardless of their performance or pay adjustment. Contrast that with CEOs. Their pay is about 350 to 1 compared to employees, and increasing at 3-4 times the rate of employees. Peter Drucker recommended to corporations that their pay ratio to employees be 20 to 1 so that workers do not get disillusioned and disenchanted. No kidding!

3 More Fairy Tales that Matter

We pay a competitive salary

This means average pay not great pay. Fifty percent of companies pay more than what you will get. What does this say about the company’s commitment to excellence? Performance packages are an afterthought, not a priority of the company. If you perform well and if the company has a performance-based system, your pay increase or bonus will be mediocre. Now re-read the ‘pay for performance’ paragraph. Do not buy into these fairy tales. The money is there you have to go for it. For example, a Social Media Manager received a great performance review. However, she received no pay increase because the company was tightening budgets.  So, she looked for a new job and received a much better offer. She gave her present employer a two week notice. They miraculously found more money to offer her 50% more money to stay. Duh? She took the new job because she couldn’t trust the current employer anymore.

We are a family here

Do the leaders know your name? Do you get exceptional health care coverage? How about taking care of your kids’ college tuition? Families do not kick people out (layoff) when the budget is tight. How often do the leaders engage in a meaningful conversation with you, besides work? As one so-called “family oriented” president always says to his employees when first greeting them, “What did you sell for me today?”

We are team oriented

A book by Amy Edmondson suggests that current models of static teamwork do not fit the knowledge economy. Research shows  two-thirds of teams fail. She says teams need to be more dynamic, fluid, and resourceful. Also, Research by the late J. Richard Hackman, Professor and Team Expert at Harvard University, gives evidence that teams usually do less well—not better—than the sum of their members’ individual contributions. Teamwork… it sounds good, but it is not happening, at least not effectively.


What does this mean to YOU? While there are exceptional organizations, as a rule you cannot count on your employer to be concerned about your dreams or career. The fairy tales are not true. With the new focus on home offices, remote work, and virtual businesses you need think differently before you are outsourced. Too often employees and any resources connected to them are expendable “when necessary.” Become an entrepreneur or intrapreneur or both.  Entrepreneurs take risks and start businesses. Intrapreneurs do the same thing inside organizations. Most importantly, in either case, it is time to “Inc. Yourself”, says author Judith McQuown.

7 Fairy Tales Companies Tell EmployeesAlso, do you want more success in life? See this complimentary guide and assessment-no fairy tales here-on habits of successful people: Success Practices Assessment and Guidebook.

In addition, go here for our RealTime Learning & Training leadership and personal development website. Micro-learning and career advancement at your fingertips!

Finally, do you want to accelerate your leadership success? Go here for Rick’s Superstar Leadership eBook.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Dickson Sedzi

    This module highlights the need for companies to work and deal with employees in integrity. I have learned a lot.

    • Rick Conlow

      Hi Dickson:
      I am glad it was helpful. Employees today must interview companies as thoroughly as companies interview them. Search online about a company’s reputation. See Comparably, Indeed, and Glassdoor. Talk to anyone you know that works at the place. Always remember, it is YOUR career and livelihood. Make sure you find an organization that believes in “PeopleFirst” so you have an opportunity to grow and make more money. Thanks for the comment!

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