Many employers use the word “talent” in their job ads. They say things like “Our company is the place where the industry’s top talent wants to be!”
Talk is cheap.
It’s easy to talk about talent. Employers that truly value people show it in their actions.
Great employers demonstrate their commitment to their staff members in their policies and pay practices, the attention they give to leadership and culture, and their flexibility when an employee needs a little accommodation.
Top-notch employers put people ahead of process. You can feel the good energy in a healthy organization the minute you walk into their office, warehouse, plant or showroom.
Unfortunately, too many organizations only talk about talent.
Their actions make it clear that they really don’t care whether their employees stay or go. If someone quits their job, the company’s reaction is “You’re leaving? That’s fine. We can replace you tomorrow.”
Who could get excited about working for a company like that?
Here are 10 sure signs your employer couldn’t care less about the people who work there.
1. They are so afraid of a defamation lawsuit that they don’t allow their department managers to give references for former employees — even people who stayed for decades and did an incredible job. Even the tiniest bit of risk to the company justifies throwing their own former teammates under the bus.
2. They push employees to work late during the week and on weekends, but if an employee arrives at work a half-hour late one morning for family reasons, it’s a crisis.
3. They measure every imaginable output from keystrokes to minutes on each phone call, and employees are under pressure to hit their numeric goals — but the only reward for hitting your goals is that you get to keep your job.
4. They promote people into supervisory roles not because they are wise, compassionate or mature but because they suck up to higher-level managers.
5. When they talk about employee motivation, it’s always in the form of a criticism: “What do we have to do to motivate you people?!”
6. The only management personnel seen on a regular basis are first-line supervisors. Senior managers are always somewhere else. They are not involved with the team, and don’t even know the names of their employees.
7. Official communications from the company are terse and commanding, a la “It will no longer be permissible to carry over unused sick days from one calendar year to the next.” The terms “You rock!,” “Thank you for your hard work” and “Way to go!” are not in the leadership team’s vocabulary.
8. HR policies are designed to squelch independent thinking. There are so many policies to keep track of that employees are afraid to make a move without getting approval. Fear-based organizations write HR policies with the view that employees are not competent and ethical adults but rather wayward children or criminals.
9. Supervisors don’t praise their teammates because they believe that people are paid to do a great job — so if someone gives extra effort, why mention it?
10. No matter how long you work for a toxic organization, you will never be invited to a conversation about your career path in the company. The overarching message sent to employees is not “We’re so glad you are here, and we want to help you advance!” but rather “Everyone is replaceable — so watch your step!”
If your employer fails on several of these counts, it doesn’t mean you have to launch a stealth job search today. You can take your time figuring out what you want to do next.
The important thing is to realize that you don’t need to settle for a company that doesn’t value you. Ask any recruiter or HR person — the job market is getting better by the day.
Competition for talent is heating up. Why not step out of your toxic workplace and into a friendlier, warmer organization this year?