The Foreshadowing of an Employee Apocalypse

 In Employee engagement, Employee Satisfaction, Employees, Rick Conlow

The term “going postal” became infamous because of eleven employee incidents in the US Post Office service since 1983. Thirty-five people were killed by current or former employees. The US Post Office doesn’t condone the term, of course, and who can blame them? Worldwide today, across all industries and companies, employee discontentment is growing, the seeds are planted. Hopefully not to the point of workplace rage but for sure foreshadowing a potential employee apocalypse.

The Foreshadowing of an Employee ApocalypseThe fact is that many employees have become frustrated, disappointed, indifferent, fearful, anxious, restless, and yes, angry. Why wouldn’t they be?! Have you noticed?

Exposing Negative Employee Relations

Wage theft from employees in the US has reached over $50 B by estimates. Employees aren’t paid for overtime, or exempt employees are taken advantage of and made to work many extra hours. In some restaurants, tips are a ripoff from servers. In other companies, fancy titles with more time required but no pay increase gives the illusion of more opportunity. It’s dishonest. Because of high health care costs, employees pay more. Greater numbers lack healthcare. Today only 9% of employers pay 100% of health care compared to 34% in 2001.

Globally, corporations have their leadership competency challenges. Gallup research shows that 82% of managers are not the right hire to do the job and lack the talent. Other management derailment studies show 50-67% of leaders fail, mostly due to “poor people skills”.

The Foreshadowing of an Employee ApocalypseAs a result, corporate malfeasance becomes accepted practice in some businesses:

  • A large entertainment company hires recent marketing graduates for wages just above minimum. The attraction for these new employees involves experiences with celebrities. They work 32 hours a week. If they do more, the hours are banked in the future. This way, the company doesn’t have to pay benefits or overtime. This isn’t legal. In addition, an autocratic leadership style begins to indoctrinate these young people into the reality of corporate America.
  • A global manufacturing company purchased a business that it has little experience in. They were told that up to a certain level, executives could stay and run the company as in the past. Within a year the leaders were gone and half the employees out of work. How many times has this happened?
  • An executive in a nationwide company regularly worked 24/7. Emails came at all hours. The managers under this exec were expected to be just as driven. If you didn’t respond as he thought you should or work similar ‘always accessible’ hours, no promotions were considered for you. His tirades about a too-slow response didn’t make time there very pleasant. Employee engagement results were poor and turnover high. Because results are better than their poor past, the manager keeps his job.

A Desperate Problem Waiting to Explode

The Foreshadowing of an Employee ApocalypseAs employee attitudes simmer, their loyalty degrades. Over time, I have shared these stats or similar ones in other posts. They require a loud and resounding repeat.

  • These disturbing trends from a 2017 study spell the continued scarcity for employee engagement: only 21% of employees believe their company’s performance planning is any good. 24% of employees feel connected at work. 25% of employees feel managers are transparent with employees while nearly twice as many managers truly believe that they are. 26% of employees feel valued at work.
  • A Rand Report press release this August shows that while most employees get social support at work from co-workers, they complain that the workplace is increasingly physically and emotionally taxing.
  • The #1 reason why employees leave a job is that they hate their boss.
  • An Accenture study says that only 21% of employees have received a company sponsored training in the last five years.
  • 58% of employees say “give more recognition” when asked by leaders what will improve engagement. 65% of employees say they weren’t recognized at all last year. 69% of employees say they would work harder if they are appreciated more.
  • 67% of worldwide employees don’t believe CEO’s are credible or very credible. This is down 12 points since 2016 and the lowest level since Edelmann’s Trust survey began in 2001.
  • 70% of people don’t believe business executives add very much value to society, according to Pew Research.
  • CEO pay worldwide had risen astronomically. In the US, employee pay is 354 times less than that of their CEO. From 1978 to 2013, CEO pay rose, with inflation-adjustment, 937%–more than double stock market growth and astronomical to the pitiful 10.2% gain by employees.
  • In addition to all of this robots are replacing people at an alarming rate.

As a result of all of these kinds of issues, nearly 9 out 10 employees are disengaged worldwide. Can you blame employees for being dissatisfied, if not angry?

The Bottom Line Impact: Dollars and Humans

How much does this cost employers? GlassDoor estimates that poor employee disengagement costs the US $450-$550 B a year. The US economy is $18.6 trillion or 24.3% of the world’s GDP. The global economy equals approximately $76 trillion. Therefore, dismal employee engagement costs businesses about $1.8-$2.2 trillion a year and counting. The International Monetary Funds says the global economy will grow 3.5% this year. With greater employee engagement and working conditions it could be nearly double that!

Yet the real bottom line has to do with the negative impact on employees and their families from unscrupulous, greedy, or untrained business managers and leaders. The truth is what the best leaders and companies have always found–that people are a company’s greatest resource. When you treat people right, they perform in significantly better ways.

The Foreshadowing of an Employee ApocalypseAmazon offers over 57,000 books with the word ‘leadership’ in the title and new ones come out at the rate of over four per day. But we still have a dismal state of affairs as described above. Businesses have serious problems, and our world has serious challenges. Politically and economically things seem to get worse more than they get better. And unfortunately, not enough leaders want to personally cooperate, collaborate, or change to improve. Poor and disreputable leadership is a disease that needs to be eradicated. It plagues the minds and spirits of employees worldwide. I wrote a post entitled: 6 Compelling Reasons for an Employee Bill of Rights, a couple of years ago. This may very well be needed in the age of AI and robots. Who protects the rights of employees? Government…no? Unions are declining. The concept of that rings truer today than ever before.

The Foreshadowing of an Employee ApocalypseI believe that the next revolution in leadership thought is about the power of people (not technology). If this doesn’t happen, I predict that there will be an apocalypse type event in the workplace, and it won’t be pretty.

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The Foreshadowing of an Employee ApocalypseWant to accelerate your career? Check out one my books in the Superstar Book Series for a boost!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Charles Wakefield

    Its an eye opening description of the current employee situation.
    Ignore at your own peril is my opinion.
    As a new people manager of a large organisation….Your resources is a must read for me.

    Thank you Rick

    • Rick Conlow

      Hi Charles:
      Thanks for the comment. An excellent manager with integrity, will take advantage of this to accelerate results and the success of his or her team. Employees long for an engaging, respectful honest leader.

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