Six Dumb Ways to Kill Employee Morale


Most who've ever been employed can attest: Certain employers display an uncanny (presumably unintentional) knack for coming up with the most ludicrous ways to kill employee morale. To be sure, employee morale-killing is itself an inherently dumb thing to do, a veritable act of self-sabotage. Some employers, however, manage to compound this innate stupidity by accomplishing it in the stupidest ways imaginable.

Empty Promises

  • Get a head start on employee morale-murdering before a new hire's first day on the job. Snag the best of the postgraduate work force with lofty promises of imminent raises, promotions and tasty perks. Thereafter, conveniently "forget" uttering these promises. Nothing obliterates employee morale quite like deceit and disappointment.


  • Bring the "teacher's pet" dynamic into the workplace by treating a select few like God's gift to earth. For maximum morale-killing effect, bestow your preferential grace on employees with a poor work ethic and lazy performance. Lavish your brown-nosing proteges with honor and rewards. The morale of your clean-nosed, self-respecting employees will nose-dive, along with their productivity and your credibility.

Egregious Rules, Rabid Enforcement

  • Establish a stringent workplace rule code with no business purpose. Mandate that women wear skirts and heels and men wear neckties at all times, even on lunch breaks or overtime all-nighters, because comfort isn't professional. Prohibit personal items on desks, because family photos are distracting. Impose severe consequences for violators. Your demoralized minions will be cowed into complacency (and searching for new jobs) in no time.

Be a Selective Spendthrift

  • Skimp on office equipment that employees need to do their jobs efficiently, while keeping the purse strings open for non-essentials that benefit yours truly. Dole out computers, Internet accounts, even pens, as if you were the king of benevolence, each item a gift that could put the whole company over the financial edge. Recline in your custom desk throne and chastise employees for slowed work output (never mind that your standards are unachievable due to their measly resources). Adios, morale.

Be a Devout Nepotist

  • Practice blind nepotism. Hire a ne'er-do-well family member to a lump-sum contract. Sit him in a cushy office with views (to pass the hours he's actually there). Give him a fancy job title, the meaning of which he doesn't know and doesn't care except for the fact that it makes him superior to his co-workers and they know it, too.

Sing Their Replaceability

  • The single dumbest way to kill employees' morale is to proclaim that they are replaceable at your whim. Remind them of their inferiority and worthlessness. For every one of them, you declare, there are countless better applicants eager to usurp their positions. The specter of replaceability is an equal-opportunity morale-snuffer; spare no one, from your secretary to your most seasoned associates.

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  • Photo Credit Piotr Stryjewski/Digital Vision/Getty Images verifying boss image by Sergii Shalimov from
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