Examples of Presenteeism in the Workplace

As you move your business further, you will be looking at means of developing a knowledgeable, skilled and healthy team that is capable of producing your desired results in the years to come. Absenteeism and absence management may well be something that is on top of your priorities, but how about presenteeism?

Presenteeism is becoming an increasing phenomenon in many workplaces around the world. While human resource professionals are celebrating the fact that absence rates are kept flat, other business experts are speculating that presenteeism is costing companies billions every year, which is much more compared with that of absenteeism. In fact, human resource practice observers are already seeing an iceberg effect, where absenteeism (the more visible portion of work loss) is dwarfed by presenteeism (the portion beneath the iceberg surface). One big reason for this is that, although presenteeism is more prevalent, it is also not easy to account for.

There is a plethora of reasons why your employees would resort to presenteeism, and one of the most important is your employees being worried about their job security. Another relative reason is that they might feel pressured by their peers; if they feel they are judged or criticized by their colleagues, they will be compelled to report to work when unwell. And with their individual workloads ever increasing, they would feel they cannot afford to take any time off regardless of their state of health.

In the beginning of the 20th century, it was good practice to be present despite being sick, as doing otherwise could compromise an entire line of production. But now, things have changed swinging to the opposite direction, where employees should be allowed to take time off when they are not feeling well not to suffer unfavorable consequences in the long run. However, to make it work, you have to know how to manage it and wisely use your resources. To deal with presenteeism, you should first know its forms. Here are some of its examples:

1. People Are Coming To Work Despite Being Ill.

In case you are not familiar with the term, presenteeism basically defines the practice of employees to report to work despite being ill and not performing to their usual productivity level. In the US, the total cost of this practice has been increasing and is about 60% of the total expenses of worker illness.

There are many unfavorable effects of presenteeism, and one of them is sick employees being likely to infect others, particularly co-workers and possibly clients. In careers, such as nursing, and industries, such as food service, a sick staff member can definitely spell disaster. He can infect other people and compromise food safety, just to name a few consequences.

2. People Stay At Work Beyond The Time Needed For Effective Performance On The Job.

There are times when your employees needed to extend their working hours or even stay up late to cope up with their targets. While many people do not see this as a significant form of presenteeism, it is. This can even result to consequences that make the affected employees sick, thus leading to the more obvious form of presenteeism that is people coming to work despite being ill.

3. People Go To Work Despite The Lack Of Love And Devotion To The Job.

This is another unapparent form of presenteeism. As you might know, some of your people might just be present because they have to earn money and not really passionate about the tasks they are assigned to. This can be detrimental to your bottom line, as these people might not perform optimally.

Ways to Deal with Presenteeism

  • Change your organizational culture. Particularly, you might want to remove your aggressive absence policy and replace it with a more trusting one.
  • You can counter hints of criticism from co-workers, so your employees will not feel coerced into going to the office when they are, in fact, not feeling well. Your employees should not be judged on the number of days they are present or absent at their stations.
  • Focus on people’s well-being, which is increasingly being incorporated into workplace and human resource strategies to eliminate the effects of stress and sickness, as well as allow individuals to focus on their tasks.
  • Make sure you place adequate procedures and policies to ensure there won’t be anything to discourage your people from taking a sick leave. They should be free to take a day off without being concerned of their absence’s impact on their job security.
  • You should set yourself as a good example. Well, this means that if you are sick, you should not be present as much as possible. Of course, the same rule should be applied to everyone in your company.
  • You can change mind-sets, so it will be clear with every one of your employees that if, he is unwell, he should not be at work.
  • You can offer flexible working arrangements, like working from home, to give employees a temporary but suitable working environment for their needs. Research shows that that these arrangements can actually improve employee output levels, while reducing stress at the same time.
  • Have a meaningful dialogue with your employees, as this will be able to let you detect and pre-empt presenteeism issues, as well as appropriately deal with them should they arise. You should also learn to be empathetic to your employees, so you will be able to find out how an employee is feeling. Remember that, while physical ailments can be easy to spot, psychological symptoms can be more difficult to pinpoint.
  • Provide cross-training to your employees to cover different business functions. This way, one can do another’s work should the latter is absent. Also, this would raise empowerment levels and allow employees to learn new skills.


Presenteeism, along with absenteeism, is sure to be a hot topic in the years to come. We can just look forward to see whether a shift in culture or mindsets can stop staff members from feeling the need to report to work despite not being physically fit to do so.

Define Insubordination in the Workplace

One of the issues that is almost always present in the workplace, regardless of the culture of camaraderie, ethics, and teamwork being cultivated, is insubordination. There is always one or two employees with bad attitudes and who refuse to work for the job that they signed up in. It’s just too bad that the recruitment officer did not see the disruptive behavior behind an employee’s smiling and friendly façade before they were hired. But now that they are part of the organization, kicking them out would not be as easy.

Insubordinate behavior, however, is grounds for termination. But before any action is taken against a problematic employee, it is vital that he is aware about company policies pertaining to insubordination, or that HR officers made it perfectly clear what constitutes insubordination in the company handbook or during employee orientation. The lack thereof can lead to confusion, and might even give an insubordinate employee the upper hand.

What Exactly Is Insubordination In The Workplace?

If it was anywhere else but in the office, insubordination can refer to someone who is disrespectful or disobedient. But its definition is more specific in a corporate setting, and should not be confused with insolence. Insubordination at work is when an employee refuses to obey a direct order from a supervisor. In a legal aspect, it can also mean willful or intentional disobedience of a lawful and reasonable request by a supervisor. It may also refer to disrespect or harassment that is directed toward a superior.

The California Supreme Court defined it as “a refusal to obey some order which a superior officer is entitled to give and entitled to have obeyed”, which has been expanded by the Employment Development Department of California to cover other situations — “(1) disobeying an employer’s order or instruction, (2) disputing or ridiculing authority, (3) exceeding authority or (4) using vulgar or profane language towards a supervisor”.

Although the gist of the definition is almost the same, insubordination can take many forms. Apart from refusal to carry out work, it also constitutes non-performance, inappropriate comments, confrontation, inappropriate language, and even non-verbal expression of dissatisfaction, such as eye rolling as a gesture of disrespect. Considering these situations, it is important that HR officers clearly define what constitutes insubordination in the workplace.

General Elements of Insubordination

1. A directive was given to an employee.
2. He received and understood clearly what is being asked of him.
3. He refused to obey a direct order by stating his refusal explicitly, or through non-performance.

But there are instances when not all elements are present, or when there is a clear display of insubordination but not enough grounds for termination. This is where things can get a little blurry.

Examples of Insubordination

1. Refusing An Order
This is probably the best example of insubordination. However, if an employee failed to complete the task because he did not understand what was expected of him, it would be considered a minor misunderstanding. Even if a superior thinks it was a lame excuse, he has to provide a written record to make it a case of insubordination against a worker.

If the task goes against ethics or legality, an employee must express his concern to his direct supervisor or another member of management, so he won’t be accused of insubordination if he decides to not carry out the order. An employee also has the right to refuse an order if the work is unsafe or if it will put him in imminent danger.

2. Workplace Confrontation
It is not considered insubordination if disagreement between a supervisor and employee happens in private. It only becomes one when a staff refuses to settle the argument or brags about it to their colleagues. This is because there will be a tendency of disrespect through the use of inappropriate comments, defamation, and even cultivation of hatred and animosity among staff towards a particular superior.

3. Abusive Language
Using inappropriate or abusive language directed to or in reference to a manager can count as insubordination, but not when it was provoked by a superior, spoken in private, common ‘shop talk’, or only used during an angry confrontation. If the dust has settled and an employee continues to curse or use vulgar language towards a manager, he can be terminated.

4. Intimidation and Harassment
Being cursed by an employee is something that a supervisor may be able to remedy, but verbal or physical aggression is an entirely different matter, something that should be treated with zero tolerance. Whether or not to terminate, however, still depends on the level of action shown by an employee. If he threatens to turn other employees against you, for example, you can have him suspended for a short period. But an act or threat of physical violence is grounds for immediate termination.

5. Act of Insolence
In the case Henry v. Foxco Ltd., an employee was dismissed for yelling profanities in front of other staff and taunting his employer to fire him, after he was asked about the length of time that it took him to get the job done and the kind of tools he used. The judged deemed that he was wrongfully dismissed, but he couldn’t decide if the employee was insubordinate or just insolent. In the end, the employee’s misconduct was only categorized as insolence. But it would have been insubordination if it meets any of the following circumstances:

a. Maintaining a working relationship between employee and supervisor is no longer possible.

b. It has affected the supervisor’s credibility and ability to properly carry out his role and function.

c. It caused employer loss of reputation or business interests and finances.


Because insubordination in the workplace is categorized as disobedience and disrespect, a company must not only have policies that prohibit insubordination, but also guidelines of what constitute insubordinate behaviors. There should exist a normal procedure for disciplinary action as well, because outright termination is not always the best and appropriate solution. Depending on the gravity of the act, sanctions can be given as verbal warning, written warning, suspension and immediate termination.

Although it is important that supervisors or employers do not act hastily in situations of insubordination, delaying disciplinary actions must be avoided. Otherwise, other personnel might get the impression that disrespectful and disobedient behavior is acceptable.

How to Write a Complaint Letter About an Employee

Everyone makes mistakes, even the most meticulous and careful employee. Some errors, however, are too shocking and severe to just let go that you have to file a complaint about it. There are many instances where a complaint letter is written. From an unhappy customer to an employee showing bad behavior while at work, from one colleague to another, from a boss to a subordinate, from an employee to a boss.

Whichever situation that you find yourself in, writing a complaint letter is one way to present a formal case to human resources. It will also serve as evidence, especially if it clearly outlines exactly what happened. Moreover, if there is a letter of proof, the accused would consider the matter seriously, and would have to present his side of the story.

Because a complaint letter will be a permanent mark against an employee, and will be kept in his file as a record, it should be a last resort. That is, you have exhausted all other efforts to correct an employee’s behavior or performance, but to no avail. The only exception is when the situation calls for immediate action, as in the case of the unhappy customer who doesn’t want a similar event to happen to someone else. If the company values their clients, they will do something about the employee or lose more business, especially when word about his behavior would spread far and wide. Most of the time, it is not just one employee who will be talked about but the entire staff, which can do more damage.

Another exception is when you find yourself in a situation that you shouldn’t have to put up with, such as discrimination, whether it’s racial, sexual, medical, religious or age-related. You should also file a complaint when you are being harassed, bullied or unjustly accused. Writing a complaint letter, however, is not something you do rashly or out of spite. There are steps you need to follow to make it formal rather than emotional.

If your situation doesn’t require immediate action, you need to examine whether or not your complaint is valid. Remember that the letter can do damage to someone else, so it has to have basis and backed by facts.

How Do You Write a Complaint Letter About An Employee?

Define What The Problem Really Is
Say your complaint is about a lazy employee. Start your letter by describing how his attitude and performance affects you or the rest of the team. Let the management and HR know how his frequent tardiness is creating a hostile atmosphere in your department because you or someone else has to pick up the slack. In the case of bullying or discrimination, point out details from the human resource manual or company policy that outlines how such a situation is supposed to be handled, or about the anti-bullying policies specified.

State Your Purpose For Writing a Letter Of Complaint
As previously mentioned, you should have a valid reason for lodging a complaint, which can be subjective depending on your situation. So state in detail why you feel it is time to make an official complaint. If the situation is affecting your work or causing tension in the office, you should definitely present your case to your manager or HR.

You should also list down possible solutions that you have tried but failed to work or even have the slightest effect on the ‘defendant’. It is important that you have tried to resolve the issue amongst yourselves, such as having an open dialogue to determine the cause of the problem. It might be just a case of misunderstanding. However, if you’re uncomfortable discussing the problem with the other person because his actions were malicious, you can skip trying to find a resolution and write a letter of complaint to HR immediately.

Get Down To Specifics
This is the part where you write in detail exactly what happened, complete with dates, time and names of witnesses or other people involved, if there are any. If you never really imagined that you might be writing a letter of complaint someday, you probably never really thought of taking note of the specifics. The lack of details can get a little tricky, but you can always give estimates.

If you were able to take down notes, provide dates for all instances that an employee misbehaved, gave in to his laziness, or bullied you or someone else. Experts suggest that you separate your grievances into bullet points, with each one covering the various aspects of your complaint.

Propose Possible Solutions
You may not have the final say as to how the problem will be addressed, but your suggestion might prove to be the best recourse for your situation. So don’t hesitate to explain what you would like the company to do. This will give HR or the management the impression that you put considerable thought into your case and that you care a great deal about its outcome.

Request For a Reply
Knowing that HR acknowledged in writing the receipt of your complaint letter, will somehow put your mind at ease. At least the problem is no longer in your hands but in theirs. In addition to your request for a reply, you should also mention that you’re open to a meeting with HR and discussing the problem in more detail, if necessary. Let them know that you expect your complaint to be dealt with confidentiality and discretion and that for any form of remedy to be carried out within the time limit specified in the HR manual. End your letter by thanking your manager, HR or whoever the addressee is.

Bottom Line
Writing a complaint letter is not something anyone would look forward to, but it is an occupational hazard that should be dealt with properly. Ideally, the letter of complaint should be addressed to the immediate superior. But, if your manager doesn’t take action or simply dismisses your concerns, you can then take the matter to human resource and give them a copy of your complaint letter.

How to Reprimand an Employee

Let’s all be clear about one thing: we all make mistakes. But when you’re in charge of a team of people, sometimes simple blunders can be infuriating. Maybe you lose your temper and can’t help but lash out, but that ultimately leads to strained relationships – something you never want to happen inside the company.

But is reprimanding truly necessary in office settings? Will it help an employee improve their character and attitude towards work?

For several human relations experts, reprimanding an employee are a sign of failure. Reprimands are done for punishment and that form of treatment is never a long-term strategy in changing behavior or performance.

But the thing when running a business is: when an employee is, for example, constantly late within one workweek, you have to take the necessary actions to address it. Meaning, it’s an issue you can’t ignore because companies have rules that employees should follow, and one of the most important ones is to come to work on time.

So if your employee demonstrates unwanted behavior consecutive times, how do you go about reprimanding them for their actions?

Establish Rules in an Employment Manual

Every company should have a manual that describe in detail what’s expected of an employee. Also included in that manual is clear descriptions on the disciplinary procedure should an employee commit a mistake. Employment experts believe that the disciplinary system should be a progressive one containing a series of warnings along with instructions on correcting the issue.

Although not every employee responds the same way, most are willing to take constructive criticism which highlights what they did wrong, along with opportunities on how they can fix it. Most of the problems with enforcing employee disciplinary action is that workers aren’t told what they have done wrong, they are not given a chance to fix the situation and worst of all, the policies set by the employer are not followed or is not implemented uniformly.

By having rules in place, an employee is aware that, say, being late three times is tantamount to a verbal warning for a first offense. The next time it happens, maybe a written warning will be in place. A third occurrence might result in suspension. And what is written should be enforced as well. This way, employees know you mean business and that there are consequences to violating corporate policy.

Emphasize Actions or Behaviors, Not Attitude

When talking to an employee about their behavior, don’t outright tell them the reason they couldn’t get a job done is because they are lazy. Or, that they constantly get into trouble because they have a bad attitude. That is a completely wrong approach to take when dealing with a problem caused by the employee. When supervisors act this way, they are attacking the person, and as a result, this creates defensiveness in an employee.

Be Very Specific

How you phrase your words matters a lot no matter what setting you’re in. So rather than tell your employee straight to their face, “You’re always late,” be very specific. How can you be really specific exactly? Do it this way:

Tell them something along the lines of “In the past week, you have been late two times. On Monday, you were late for [x] minutes and on Wednesday you were late for [y].”

This way, you can foster a communication about why they are always late. From there, you two can brainstorm on how best to deal with their tardiness problem. Or, any other problem for that matter.

Remind Them Of The Standard

Sometimes, employee manuals are taken for granted. This is why you should constantly remind your employees about being on time for work. Explain to them that they are need at the office at a specific time because your business can’t function as expected with one key piece missing.

Ask For a Commitment From An Employee To Change

Whether it be relating to tardiness or being unable to submit before or on the deadline, you need to have an agreement with an employee about the need for them to change. While you may think that having a chronic latecomer is a permanent syndrome, that is totally not the case. People can change their habits and it only takes a little encouragement and some help for them to pull it off.

You see, asking an employee to change rather than firing them immediately is one of the best courses of action you can take. When you seek a new hire, you have to go through the whole recruitment process again and you also have to devote additional hours for training again as well.

So try and work it out first before resulting in drastic decisions.

Offer a Way To Help An Employee

Let’s take the example of a chronically late employee to emphasize this point. While others may not want you prying on personal lives, it helps for managers to know the family situation, as well as other personal details of every employee under their management. For one, it helps them better understand the person.

Jose Mourinho, returning for a second spell as manager of Chelsea FC in the Premier League, is notable for knowing personal details about his employees. One could venture he uses it to get to know them or maybe even use it to motivate them. Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic played for Mourinho at Inter Milan and he illustrated in his autobiography I am Zlatan just how Mourinho uses his knowledge of a players’ personal life.

Zlatan was to be awarded but before that day came, his club had a game. The star forward wasn’t having a particularly good game. Mourinho approached the Swede and asked him about him receiving an award. And then immediately told him to give it to someone more deserving because he has done absolutely nothing on the pitch. While that may seem harsh to some, it had an effect an Zlatan and he performed better.

Phil Jackson, who led to Chicago Bulls to six championships and the Los Angeles Lakers to five, also had a different way of dealing with a problematic player. Dennis Rodman was known for his different ways, and apparently, he was also late to practices. This is a no-no in any basketball team. But during Rodman’s stint with the San Antonio Spurs, Greg Popovich (then general manager) would fine the eccentric forward thousands of dollars for his tardiness. When Rodman was traded to the Bulls, Jackson fined him for single figures and made him shoot free throws. Apparently, that sat well with Rodman.

While those are sports examples, they can still be applied in the corporate world. For example, if an employee has several kids and lives in an area with bad transport links, come up with solutions and test them out to see which one works best for the employee. And of course, if changes do happen and are more constant, then don’t forget to praise the employee or offer rewards.

Bottom Line

Reprimanding an employee is not a fun thing for supervisors to do, but can be productive when done in a proper manner.

How to Calculate Employee Retention Rate

If you are a business owner attempting to lower employee turnover and increase retention rates, you need some calculations of some basic data that will assist you. Calculating retention and turnover rates are just the initial steps in identifying employee stability. However, these rates do not tell the whole story alone, where you also need to have tenure calculation formulas. All in all, these formulas are effective and simple means of determining who are leaving, when will they leave and what circumstances they are under.

The term “calculating period” can be a number of months (series of months) or even years, depending on the trends on which you are doing research. With it, you can then use any time period. For the “employee” category, it can be a specific job position, a specific shift or any employee in general.

When it comes to strategies for employee retention, it is suggested that your human resource (HR) department should track specific measurables. By tracking statistics, such as turnover costs and employee retention rates, you will have a good means of measuring the effectiveness of the new initiatives of your HR department, such as the beginning to offer health benefits and a formal on-boarding program.

This article offers details on calculating HR employee retention rates, the reason why an employee retention strategy matters, a checklist of the best practices for employee retention and related matters.

A Checklist for the Best Practices for Employee Retention

There are pieces of advice you should follow for employee retention, and here is a summary of them:

  • Benchmarking your employee retention rate.
  • Using proven retention strategies and not guesswork.
  • Not assuming your employees are happy, but instead creating a high-feedback environment.
  • Implementing a program for health benefits, like defined contribution health benefits or a traditional health plan.
  • Offering different benefits for your employees, with a focus on expensive and high-value staff members.
  • Conducting exit interviews to know which benefits your employees are valuing.
  • Receiving feedback on the company culture.
  • Identifying areas for improvement.

How to Calculate HR Employee Retention Rates

The rate of employee retention is a very useful statistics you can use to calculate, both periodically (quarterly or annually) and as a benchmark. The formula is just simple, where you can get the percentage by just dividing the number of employees who left during a period by the total number of employees at the end of a period. Let us take the following numbers for example:

Period of Time: Fourth Quarter
Total Employees at Beginning of Q4: 25
Total Employees Terminated in Q4: 5

Sample Calculation

25 – 5 = 20
20 / 25 = .80
.80 x 100 = 80%

Remember that the standard employee retention rate is anywhere from 70% to 85%, but it would vary greatly by calculation method and industry. A good example of this is that whether you are taking into account all terminated employees or only the voluntary turnover.

How Is The Formula For Retention Rate Created?

Most business owners want to determine the rate of retention in their companies and are always asking whether employee retention is the same as employee turnover. To make things clear, retention is a component of the overall staffing process that measures how well an organization retains its employees. Managing it can be a challenging task to keep types and sufficient numbers of staff members to minimize ineffectiveness of the organization.

On the other hand, employee turnover looks at departures as a staffing measure and is used to determine reasons or patterns behind the departures. For the resulting number, it is a benchmark you can use to measure your effectiveness against other companies. More often than not, employee departures are seen as voluntary or involuntary. Therefore, retention and turnover are different in the sense that they measure different aspects of your recruitment process. To determine the retention rate, the task of identifying the correct variables is very important.

Take note that there are generally 2 givens in a percentage problem. With 2 out of 3 unknowns, you can rearrange the equation to get the unknown variable. With 3 unknowns, there are actually only 3 different questions you can pose:

1. What is ___ percent of ___? (given whole and percentage, find part)
2. ___ is what percent of ___? (given part and whole, find percentage)
3. ___ is ___ percent of what? (given part and percentage, find whole)

In conclusion, the general equation for employee retention would be:
R = number of retained employees multiplied by 100

The Importance of Employee Turnover

To make your measures of retention meaningful, you should be able to determine the rate of your turnover. This branches to many categories, such as the following:

  • Due to retirement
  • Voluntary and involuntary
  • Due to people leaving into promoted roles
  • Due to people leaving laterally to other jobs

At different stages of tenure, such as less than 1 year, 1-3 years, 3-5 years, etc., it is critical to identify matters related to skills and succession. This also includes considering the different levels within your organization, such as individual contributor, entry level, supervisor, manager, executive, senior executive, etc.

Why Does HR Employee Retention Matter for a Small Business?

First of all, remember that employee turnover can cost your business time and money. It disrupts the flow of your workforce that is currently functioning. When one of your employees leaves, there will be a considerable knowledge gap left, which can coerce your remaining staff to work harder, as they fill in the deficit. Also, recruiting and training new employees require you to discharge more resources. Every time you replace a salaried employee, it can cost you around months in salary.

While some cases of turnover are inevitable, having a strategy for intentional employee retention in place would mitigate the problem, which means profit saved for your business.

Related Formulas That Are Also Helpful

  • Average tenure of current employees.
  • Average tenure of employees who have left.
  • Special characteristics of employees who have left.
  • Vacancy rate.

Ways to Overcome Ageism in Workplace

Ageism is a reality in almost every workplace. Some jobs don’t have any room for the aging and the aged. Some jobs require age as that brings in experience, patience and perseverance, a few attributes that the young don’t possess. But ageism is often perceived in an extreme form. Some people feel that ageism is rampant in most companies. Some people don’t acknowledge it at all. Neither of the two is true. Ageism exists but it is not as rampant as some people will have you believe.

It is perceived that people nearing their retirement don’t like to work with young people. Likewise, it is perceived that the young don’t want to work with the old. These are perceptions. Many surveys have shown that the young and the old can coexist and they often do so quite harmoniously. The more experienced professionals can impart knowledge to the young guns. The youth can help the aged with technology and can also infect them with some youthful enthusiasm. There is sufficient room for the young and the old.

Ageism exists because of a few simple reasons. Some companies don’t want to pay more to experienced people when the job can be done by a younger professional, in less time and at a much lesser pay. There are many who look at aged professionals as ones who have an almost definite expiration date and thus would not be in the scheme of things for very long. Business owners, managers or recruiters often prefer to invest in young professionals who are likely to give some of the most active years of their life to the company. Then there are issues of a more experienced person working for a younger professional. Some aged professionals take up jobs with less pay only to wait for greener pastures. There are such complications and thus ageism cannot be looked at from a blinkered perspective.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome ageism in the workplace. If you are being discriminated against at the time of recruitment, if you are being passed on for appraisals or promotions, if you are not being treated fairly or are being issued the pink slip, then you can take some steps to undo or avert those.

Ways To Overcome Ageism In Workplace

1. Remain Relevant
One must be on top of his or her game. If you have fallen behind, if you are not up to date with technology, if your skills have become redundant and if you don’t have any value to offer to a company, then you will be the victim of ageism. You may be in the same profession or you may want to switch to a new profession, relevant skills and updated knowledge are the two quintessential attributes that you would need to beat ageism.

2. Be Healthy to Overcome Ageism
If one looks frail, lethargic, doesn’t dress well or is very slow in how one moves around, then no company would want to entertain the job application. No company wants an employee who may call in sick more often, will take a lot of time to get something simple done or one who would not be energetic at work. This has more to do with the overall health, lifestyle and medical history of a person.

3. Keep Your Opinions, Mindsets, and Philosophies
Aged or aging professionals are no different. They will have certain fixations, preferences, strong likes and dislikes. If any of these are in direct conflict with something at the workplace, then one would be a victim of ageism. One needs to be flexible, should be open to working with anyone regardless of age, must be willing to learn and should be open to changes. Aging people are often uninterested in changes. They like to be in their comfort zone. That is not welcomed in every company.

4. Remember it is Not a Bad Thing
Age is not necessarily a bad thing. One who uses age to his or her advantage can scale unprecedented heights. While there are many odds stacked against an aged job seeker or professional, there are many factors that work in favor. Experience, knowledge, hands-on expertise, proven skills, awareness of various kinds of circumstances that any professional has to deal with on the job, office politics, dealing with people, management and the fact that one can be a mentor for the young; all these are the attributes that one must highlight. In effect, one has to market age as a positive and not as a shortcoming.

5. Be Proud and Confident Of Your Age
The moment you start to believe that you are too aged for a job or that you are not good enough for the job, the whole world will start to believe it. The world will see you as you see yourself.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in the Workplace

Privacy is a gray area. Even the law is not clear as to what exactly constitutes as privacy in the workplace. The law is lucid when it comes to privacy of people beyond their workplace, in public places or in their personal lives. But when an individual is working for a company and within the premises or using assets, infrastructure or resources of an organization, then privacy becomes a subjective issue. The context in which privacy is being discussed will become the most important factor.

Many companies have privacy policies and many don’t. Government jobs, whether at state level or federal, come with a certain privacy policy, most of which are assured by the Fourth Amendment. Private jobs don’t come with any such sanctioned policy. Companies have the right to determine the privacy policy at their workplace and it is up to the people working there to accept or reject them. Should an individual start working at such a company that has a policy, it is understood that the person is willing to accept the privacy clauses as stated in the policy. Many companies get their employees to sign on such terms of employment.

Privacy remains an ill-defined issue because of the rapid changes in the modern workplace. Technology is changing and evolving at a breath-neck speed. The laws cannot keep up with such a pace. There are certain aspects of privacy that are assured in all workplaces. The rest falls within the ambit of reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in the Workplace: Explained

There are certain privacy issues that cannot be questioned. For instance, there cannot be security cameras in the toilets or washrooms. A company can never have any access to your personal belongings. Even if you have to be frisked while entering a workplace, if the job requires such measures, then it must be non-intrusive. There are many such privacy issues that have been settled.

What have not been addressed are various instances when someone may perceive his or her privacy being compromised. For instance, what if a company monitors all phone conversations, internet activity, professional and personal emails and keeps a tab on everything that an employee carries in, keeps at his or her cubicle and carries out?

This is where reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace becomes relevant. Reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace is determined by the claim of right to privacy by an individual in the context which the privacy was allegedly violated and if that expectation of the individual is reasonable.

Let us take an example where a company monitors all modes of communications of its employees. Now, a company is well within its rights to monitor all calls made to and from the office phones. But the company cannot record all conversations. It can record official conversations citing company interest but it cannot record private conversations. A company can make a note of personal calls made by an employee and has the right to pull one up if he or she is wasting time, making too many calls or clinging onto the phone. But the company cannot record the personal calls.

Take the same instance and put it in the context of monitoring the internet. A company is well within its rights to browse all internet activity on its network. The company also has the right to keep a tab of all such activity, including office passwords and files and everything else. But the company cannot keep a track of personal details. If accessing personal email is allowed in a workplace, the company can keep a tab of how often the email was accessed but not the contents of the email, the password or any such private data.

A Hot Button Issue

Privacy at the workplace is a contentious issue, especially when it comes to technology. Personal privacy, pertaining to modesty and private possessions, is assured anywhere.

Companies that have lucid policies communicated to its employees don’t leave much room for reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace. In all other scenarios, reasonable expectation will come into the picture. A company running a random inspection of a workstation or cubicle and thus going through all materials in locked and unlocked drawers of an employee may be within its rights or it could be a violation of privacy. It will depend on the context, if the employee was notified or if the company was not required to notify, if that inspection was generalized or if it was a one-off case, was there a reason for such inspection or was it with some intention. Many such factors will be assessed.

Reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace can be best defined as a fair treatment of employees by a company where their personal details are kept a secret and their personal lives or possessions are not intruded upon and that they would not be asked to compromise on any of these unless there is a grave need.

Dealing with Passive Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace

Passive aggressive behavior is extremely common. It is quite rampant in the workplace and it also exists in personal relationships. Passive aggressive behavior is common among friends, couples, spouses, siblings, neighbors and relatives.

Passive aggressive behavior is more difficult to deal with because it is subtle. There are many who wouldn’t even notice the red flags. Managers or business owners need to be conscious of the worrying signs and must take appropriate action to resolve the problem. Inaction is not the best approach as that can aggravate the situation and it is quite possible that the employee or employees indulging in such behavior would cause substantial harm to the company’s interests over a period of time.

Identifying Passive Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace

Passive aggression has various manifestations. Some are more obvious than others. Common manifestations of passive aggressive behavior is an employee missing deadlines, intentionally messing up an assignment, not doing his or her job even though he or she can, not sharing necessary information or consciously sabotaging an operation, doing a poor job to make the immediate supervisor or manager look incompetent and trying to create complications even in the simplest of circumstances, among others.

Passive aggressive behavior stems from suppressed anger. If an individual is angry with someone or at something and is incapable of expressing it explicitly, then the individual will resort to covert ways of expressing the same. Such an individual may also resort to covert ways or passive aggression because he or she doesn’t want the other person to know that he or she is miffed with something. Passive aggressive behavior can be circumstantial reactions at times but it is often a part of a person’s personality. There are people who would never resort to such a behavior because they would be upfront about their anger, resentment or disappointment.

Some people have a personality that facilitates passive aggressive behavior, which is why it is all the more important to identify such individuals and to tackle the circumstances. Someone who indulges in such behavior once is likely to indulge in it time and again. It could also become a chronic condition wherein the person would perpetually behave in such uncooperative, hostile and unproductive manner.

Understanding Passive Aggressive Behavior in the Workplace

The immediate issue or the trigger in a case can be varied. It could be the denial of a promotion or appraisal, unfair treatment meted out to someone, poor leave policies, bad boss, complex assignment, delayed paycheck and it could be some personal reason as well. The issues can be as varied as they can get. But it would be unwise to look at passive aggressive behavior in the workplace through the sole prism of the trigger factor. There are many other contributing factors.

People spend almost their entire day at work. It is obvious then that most concerning issues will stem from such a place. Not every employee expressing passive aggression is bad or undesirable. It could be so that the employee is unable to speak with his or her immediate boss. Possibly, someone else can listen to the grievances or issues. It is quite likely that someone would find it difficult to be entirely honest with a company’s owner or anyone who is in charge of the person’s career, promotions, paycheck and even leaves. Being honest is not always the right policy if the person one is being honest to is not the right person.

Dealing with Passive Aggressive Behavior In the Workplace

Passive aggression must never be responded to with aggression or passive aggression. When one person is expressing passive aggressive behavior, the other person needs to exercise control. He or she should not get aggressive. And he or she should not resort to passive aggression to counter. Not reacting recklessly or with the mindset of an eye for an eye is the first step.

Communication is the key in dealing with passive aggressive behavior in the workplace. A boss who is fair, loved or respected, jovial, helpful, easy to talk to and doesn’t have a practice of keeping scores will never find it difficult to speak with someone expressing passive aggression. Opening up a channel of free and fair communication is crucial. Such communication has to be one on one, not a group therapy, and should be face to face and not over the phone or via emails.

One must not be optimistic or pessimistic while dealing with passive aggression. It is better to stay disassociated and to have a neutral view. Looking at facts and taking a humane perspective to understand the predicament of the individual is quintessential.

Honesty, a genuine willingness to listen to problems and to make possible attempts to resolve the contentions and having an approach that is welcoming and reassuring would help any manager, leader, supervisor or company owner in dealing with passive aggressive behavior in the workplace.

Examples of Lateral Workplace Violence

Lateral workplace violence needs more attention than it gets right now. There are no laws, at federal or state level, that deal with lateral workplace violence. Some industries and their associations have set some standards on how to deal with it but that needs to be broadened and there should be some statutes within the ambit of law that can thwart this menace.

Lateral workplace violence has far-reaching impacts. There are many who have reported quitting their job and even a profession owing to being bullied, due to hostile workplace conditions and various kinds of abuse. In some cases, it could be intimidation and in some it could be sexual harassment. Abuse of authority is also common.

What is Lateral Workplace Violence?

Lateral workplace violence is an act of aggression. It could be verbal or nonverbal, physical or psychological. Offensive abuses, intimidation, insulting behavior, actions that are malicious and abuse of authority or a situation can be classified as lateral workplace violence. Such acts can be conducted by one person against another, by many people against one person, by many people against several individuals or by one individual against a group of people. Lateral workplace violence often stems from positions of authority, or superiors, but it is also common among peers or colleagues having the same designation or job profile.

Lateral workplace violence can be sporadic and abrupt in nature. But it can also be systematic, planned, persistent and ongoing.

Impact of Lateral Workplace Violence

The impact will depend on the nature of the act. Physical abuse will obviously have a physical impact. Verbal or emotional abuse will have more of a psychological impact. The stress a victim experiences, the increased vulnerability, the humiliation and the threats would always have a scarring impact on an individual’s psyche. There are some immediate effects which are noticed as well. Employees who are victims of lateral workplace violence would have reduced or declining productivity, they would resort to absenteeism and may even quit for unexplained reasons. Victims also undergo depression, suppressed anger and resentment and there can also be an impact on the personality of the targeted employee.

Examples of Lateral Workplace Violence

Verbal confrontation, nonverbal innuendo, undermining acts, sabotage, withholding information, backstabbing, infighting and making someone a scapegoat are common examples of lateral workplace violence.

Here are some specific scenarios that would illustrate how lateral workplace violence may shape up.

  • A person or people in position may use their clout or power to control assignments, day-offs, breaks through the shift, holiday or time-off and rosters.
  • Colleagues or peers may control an individual or individuals by consistently reporting their shortcomings, actions or inactions to the immediate supervisor or manager.
  • Some leaders, managers or supervisors may put some victims under duress, impose deadlines that are impossible to keep and assign workload that is humanely undoable.
  • Intentional withholding of information or sharing wrong information for an individual or individuals to get into trouble and thus being pulled up for it and penalized for no fault of theirs. This could happen covertly or overtly.

There are many manifestations of lateral workplace violence.

  • Yelling, a demanding attitude of seniors or peers, refusing to offer any help or guidance, intentionally allowing someone to be in a tight spot, exposing someone’s shortcomings or limitations or even secrets that have been shared, consciously badmouthing someone and scheming to pull someone down or to cause substantial professional damage are all manifestations of lateral workplace violence.
  • Intimidating with the power of authority, threatening disciplinary actions or instilling fear of being sacked, being excessively critical of an individual or group of people, consistently pulling someone down or holding someone back, using various kinds of physical gestures to express hostility and outright violence or an act with the intent to cause physical hurt are also forms of lateral workplace violence.

Managing Lateral Workplace Violence

While there should be standard laws to tackle lateral workplace violence, one cannot seek legal help until such a law is in place. Managing lateral workplace violence will be possible only when companies and people accept that it exists and has its tentacles spread out far and wide. Also, people need to stop considering it or bullying as acceptable. There is covert acceptance of lateral workplace violence because those who indulge in it are also part of the workforce that must reject it.

The best way to manage lateral workplace violence is to have an open, un-opinionated, fair and well monitored grievance reporting system. Most employees don’t report being victims of lateral workplace violence. Every employee should be told that they are to report whatever experience they encounter and they must be assured that a fair probe will be launched to unearth the facts.

Such a practice must also be mentioned in the human resources policy of a company.

How to Improve Employee Morale

In the business and corporate setting, employee morale is considered one of its cornerstones. It refers to the emotion, attitude, feelings of well-being, job satisfaction, and overall outlook of an employee for the entire duration of his time spent in a workplace. For some reason, however, this particular cornerstone is hardly nurtured, much less given attention. In a Gallup 2013 State of the American Workplace report, 70% of Americans are unhappy, completely disengaged and feel negatively about their jobs.

Without a doubt, the company that these employees work in is suffering one way or another, what with the many implications of low employee morale. In fact, an estimated 22 million employees who are actively disengaged is costing the U.S. over $350 million per year in missed days of work, lost productivity and even stolen goods, according to the Gallup Organization. It is therefore safe to conclude that when a company’s bottom line is suffering, employers should look into employee morale, as it is a sickness with costly consequences.

  • Teams that are less engaged are less productive and less customer-focused.
  • Employees who do not have a sense of job ownership tend to adopt counterproductive behavior and would barely make an effort to perform their job well.
  • Disgruntled workers can sabotage a product, or make a muck of things, resulting in a wide range of problems, including customer complaints.
  • Dissatisfied employees will escape the office by calling in sick, increasing absenteeism that, in turn, will cost an organization money and output.
  • Manifestation of overall performance or attitude will result in unhappy customers, high turnover rate and rampant negativity in the workplace.

With the kind of money and time that low employee morale will cost your business; you should work to make improvements. How do you do this exactly?

1. Acknowledge That The Problem Exists

You’ve seen the symptoms and signs, and the figures in your business report don’t lie. It is obvious that productivity is suffering because members of the organization are dissatisfied and disengaged.

Unless you acknowledge that employee morale is low and productivity is suffering, you won’t see the value of making improvements. Horrible bosses and managers would not take responsibility for the role they play as well. Most of the time, low morale is created from the top down — employees do all the work and listens, while the managers do not reciprocate even just one bit. This imbalance fosters resentment, distrust and disrespect.

2. Work on employee recognition

In a Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report, there are questions that are related to an employee’s sense of being part of a group and recognition from peers.

  • Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  • At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  • In the last 6 months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

As answers to these survey questions resulted in 70% of unhappy employees, it is clear that employee recognition is lacking in plenty of businesses. If you think your company is one of them, you should work to recognize achievements, whether individually or in groups. Offering a raise and promotion, or adding new benefits and perks are good, but smaller recognitions tend to be appreciated more and won’t cost you as much.

Simply thank and congratulate an employee for his contribution, acknowledge his performance personally and publicly, and throw in small rewards into the mix. When you succeed to create an environment where employees realize and know that their work is appreciated, you are one step closer to improving low employee morale.

3. Lead By Good Example And Positivity

You’ve seen them in movies — Montgomery Burns in The Simpsons, who is a sinister employer, out to do anything to destroy his employees, and Dr. Julia Harris in the Horrible Bosses who is blatantly harassing her dental hygienist — but they do exist in real life. Employers, managers and leaders like them make an office less desirable to work in.

You can improve the situation by as simple as being more approachable. According to Elizabeth Scott, About.com’s wellness coach, your demeanor as the boss or CEO has a direct impact on your employees, as they often relate performance and job security with your mood. If you don’t smile, they would assume that things are looking grim. Your positive attitude can also stave off burnout, boost morale and inspire teamwork.

It is also highly recommended that you carry a positive attitude that will prove contagious, resulting in an environment filled with positivity. Just remember to remain sincere, since overdoing it can have the opposite effect. Consistency in being positive is also important, especially when times are tough.

4. Invest In Your Employees

A worker’s happiness and well-being largely depends on a lot of things, including a workplace that is susceptible to productivity and creativity, not to mention very comfortable. More than anything, however, they thrive on opportunities for advancement and in knowing they serve a vital purpose. Employees want to be in an environment where they can share similar values and goals with the company, and can contribute to the overall success of a mission. This is why it is important to set clear goals and to constantly remind workers about them.

In terms of opportunities to move up the corporate ladder, it is your duty to invest in staff’s continuous development. Offer training or educational workshops that will address their development needs, which will result in a more engaged workforce.

5. Develop a culture of trust

Trust can spell the difference between a good and bad workplace. Failure to establish a good working relationship among the team or with managers and leaders can lower employee morale. What is the point of continuing to work in a place where you are constantly in fear of being reprimanded or fired?

To prevent such thoughts from even creeping in, make sure to let people know that you trust in their capabilities. Get them involved in discussions that directly affect them, listen to their opinions and suggestions, allow them to make decisions, and trust them to make the right move. It is also important that whatever contracts are made are honored and expectations are managed. Most importantly, your employees must be able to trust that you will keep communication lines open, provide constructive feedback and that they can discuss their concerns without fear of being shot down.


Improving employee morale when it is about to hit rock bottom will never be easy, but not entirely impossible. As long as you take steps to remedy the problem, the business can still recover.