8 horrifying things you should never say to your employees 😱

I’ve been working evenings and over the weekend

This is a very passive-aggressive way of saying you think that they should put in some more hours of their own time and making them feel guilty that they don’t. If you are not going to pay your employees to work overtime then stop putting them under pressure to put in more hours. If you want to work those hours that is up to you, but never do it to prove a point to your employees because they will end up resenting you.

We need more energy in here

People have energy at work because they are motivated and engaged, not because you keep telling them they should have more energy. This phrase is useless and does nothing to energise your employees, if anything it does the opposite and completely demotivates them because it is annoying and demeaning. If you genuinely want more energy why don’t you start coaching them to be more excited and motivated about their role? Try reading our article about how you should motivate part-time workers or discover why Google are so good at ‘managing’ their staff.

How about you do it because I pay you

This phrase is arrogant, rude and completely destroys employee engagement. The whole point of empowering and engaging your employees is to get them to want to come to work for more than money, they should want to come to work for ambition, desire, motivation and happiness. If you say this you are stripping away any power and authority they felt they had at work and reminding them that they are just there to do a job because you pay them.  If you really want to engage employees you need to keep them informed and connected and give them the correct tools so they can do their job to the best of their ability.

Oh you’re ill you can work from home then

If your employee is telling you they are ill you need to trust and respect that they are and give them time to rest at home. Working from home is still working meaning they are not getting the full time off that they need. It also makes your employees feel extremely trapped if they know that every time they are ill they need to battle on through at home. It is inconsiderate and soon enough your employees will go and work somewhere else where they do let their staff rest at home when they are not feeling well.

You’re taking another holiday haven’t you just been on one?

This is a very passive-aggressive phrase, making your staff feel guilty about taking time off which is wrong! You have given them a set amount of holiday days to take for a reason, so for you to make snide remarks about them using it is bound to upset your employees. You should actually be encouraging them to use their holiday to ensure they have a sufficient break from work, this makes them more productive in the long run. What has it got to do with you when and where they take their holidays. Unless it poses a serious problem to your rotas then you should keep your thoughts to yourself.

We’re really busy can you work through your lunch break today

This one screams selfish to your employees, you are making them sacrifice the one time of the day where they can rest and catch their breath. A break is an essential part of their routine to allow your employees to recharge and ensure they are productive for the rest of the day. Making them work through this when they are tired and hungry, especially when they are serving customers is a recipe for disaster! Virgin Media give their staff a gamification app called Albert which helps them learn all of their products, 65% of employees even play it in their own time simply because they enjoy it. So if you want your staff to come back from their lunch break even more knowledgeable why not try it?

I’m going to add you on Facebook

This is an incredibly awkward one for your employees because they are hardly going to hit the decline button to their boss, but they do not want you snooping on their personal life and checking up on them. It is an invasion of their privacy and personal life and will make them feel like they are working for ‘Big Brother’. Unless they decide to add you, never add your employees on your Facebook account.

You were out again last night?

This is another passive-aggressive way of saying you think they should curb their social outings because you are worried about it affecting their work. If they come to work and do a good job then it has nothing to do with you what they decide to do in their own time. By you questioning their choice to go out a lot, it makes them feel like they have to keep their social life and work life completely separate. This creates a barrier making them view work as just a job where they have to come to earn money. You make them create a ‘work’ persona, meaning they will never truly be themselves during work hours, this is because they’ll feel like they can’t partake in conversations about their life outside of work without being judged!


If you are struggling to get your employees to improve their performance, find out how we can help!

We believe employees need the power to work autonomously but with the tools, boundaries and framework to ensure they are always productive and efficient. Oplift empowers your staff by giving them the digital tools they need to improve their knowledge, skills, service, speed and efficiency. If you want to know more get in touch or browse our product pages.

Other posts that may be of interest to you:

How to manage the biggest complaints from part-time workers.

8 traits of a bad manager

The real reason your staff are late

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 31st October 2018