Robin Shea posted a great article yesterday titled “Weakest link” is no way to run your workplace. In it she discusses the problems related to bosses who like to stir the pot and keep employees feeling distrustful and uncertain. Not surprisingly, she thinks its a bad idea. She writes:
Manufactured workplace rivalry can cause morale to plummet and teamwork to become nonexistent. Which in turn results in high turnover, including the loss a lot of people you probably didn’t think were “weak links.”
From a legal standpoint, a hyper-competitive workplace environment dramatically increases the odds that the employer will become a defendant in a lawsuit, the subject of an EEOC charge or other administrative complaint, or the target of a union organizing campaign. It can also result in increased rates of workers’ comp and disability-related claims because employees are too stressed out to be able to face Lord of the Flies each day.
As someone who talks to 5-10 unhappy current or former employees a week, I can tell you that this is a big, big problem in the American workplace that is commonly overlooked by corporate HR departments. Too many HR departments seem to have a type of tunnel vision centered around whether they can determine if bad behavior is illegal or not. They miss the point.
If you have a boss who is so bad that your employees are seeking advices from a lawyer, you have a big problem - regardless of whether I end up telling them the issue is legally actionable or not.