Deadbeat Employees | HR Fishbowl

NPR had a piece on Deadbeat Dads yesterday (the U.S. Supreme Court is getting involved) as I was slowly coming out of my night’s slumber. I’m a product of divorced parents – they split when I was ten (some of you are now nodding your heads and thinking, “well, that explains a lot.”) Thankfully, my dad was (almost) fully engaged in our rearing; I mean, he wasn’t all that great about taking us to the dentist or dealing with any of the other day-in-day-out crap of corralling kids, but we saw him twice a week without fail, he listened, and supported, and he honored every last cent of his child-support agreement…plus some. He is no deadbeat.

The damage and havoc wreaked by deadbeats in this world is staggering. Hopefully you don’t need this blog post to educate you on this well-established fact. Have you ever thought about, though, the damage caused by deadbeats in your workplace? I’m not talking about deadbeat dads who work for you – that’s another matter. I’m talking about deadbeat employees. They aren’t deadbeat because they don’t show up; they’re deadbeat because they suck the life out of everyone else while they’re there. They aren’t always easy to identify and are even harder to publicly label once found.  No one likes to really talk about it; we make excuses for them; we praise their accomplishments and overlook their faults. But they are deadbeats never-the-less.

In my mind, you’re a deadbeat employee if you:

  1. Don’t show up to company events
  2. Ignore company-wide communications and external press on your organization
  3. Fail to give performance feedback and reviews to your employees…on time
  4. Take little interest in what your employees’ annual goals or long-term aspirations are – professionally and personally
  5. Have no involvement in recruiting talent to the organization
  6. Bad mouth your employer in public
  7. Couldn’t spout off at least one interesting fact about every employee you’ve ever worked with
  8. Refer to your employer as “the” company rather than “our” company
  9. Volunteer for nothing
  10. Refuse to accept employment as a two-way proposition

These things are expensive…to everyone. They impact the productivity, profitability, and all-around cultural fortitude of your organization. Why would you – why do you – stand for that? I honestly don’t care if you’re God’s gift to whatever product you sell or service you deliver. I’ll take inferior skill or intellect over your deadbeat behavior any day of the week. If you have employees like this (and you do) I’d say it’s high time you had a pretty serious conversation with them. If they don’t respond, kick ‘em to the curb cuz that’s about the only place a deadbeat belongs.

Image Credit: pag asa (flickr)

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36 Comments – Leave a comment!

Bottom line, everyone has a role to play in building a pleasant and productive workplace. When people don’t pull their weight everything falls apart.

  • This is a good list but the commentary is one-sided and from a management point of view. The article and author makes no mention of, and takes no responsibility for, employees who become jaded or just don’t care about the company because management didn’t listen, treated them badly to begin with, reneged on promises, had a bad boss who is rising in the firm, were asked to lie or cheat, or some other point that mattered to their enthusiasm for the employer.

    Any number of polls show there are, at any one time, some 50% of employees who are wanting to change jobs. They have their reasons too, and most of them aren’t deadbeats. Many don’t give a rat’s a– because they have been treated poorly. So, before “kicking them to the curb”, management should ask them why they are unmotivated–they may not like what they hear.

  • @joy – you said it better than i did. @h – you’re so right about those people who are really good at masking their deadbeatedness @Trying – yes, absolutely. a deadbeat leader will breed deadbeat employees. but no one has to stand for a “toxic” environment. find a place where you don’t want to be a deadbeat…where you can be upbeat. @Beverly C – name calling? whatever. and so sorry you seem to be having a gender issue at work, but this isn’t a gender issue blog post. as an executive of your company, you in fact have an obligation to socialize with your employees every now and then – i didn’t say all the time and i didn’t say you need to “make their social life.” enough of the drama already. if you’re innocent on the other nine and guilty on the first, though, i’ll give you a pass. @Brooke – i like the spin and you are absolutely right. @S – one thing that i love about writing my own blog is that i get to make it one sided – my side. i agree that the organization has a lot to do with it. but then move on to another organization. you’re a free-agent…walk. @Blaine – you know absolutely nothing about me. my guess is this is the first time you’ve visited and read a post on my blog. poke around a little more and read some of my other stuff. you’ll soon realize most of it spills the cool-aid.

    @Rob – um, ok. but that’s not the kind of place i want to work. i have a vested interest in each and every one of my co-workers. their attitudes, their productivity, their contributions impact the experience i have. i don’t mean to change a deadbeat, i mean to just kick ‘em to the curb.

  • Charlie … I loved this article! You got everyone all fired-up and interacting and you covered some really awesome points. Not only that, but unlike a majority of the other blog writers out there … you have taken an active role in the follow-up discussions. I love that you are personally responding to everyone’s posts!

    I have been in my field for over 25 years and have had my share of really terrible employers and some equally awesome ones. The same can be said for my co-workers and people that I have had to supervise.

    I’ll have to tell you though that no matter how poopy or good the employer- nothing affects me on a day to day basis more than my fellow workers. It seems that slackers are way too prevalent in the work force today. There is nothing that kills the moral of a team more than having members of that team that aren’t at least attempting to pull their own weight. I am not talking about skill level, but rather the overall demeanor. Even if a person is getting the “work” done if they show up with a cruddy attitude it just permeates the whole place, bringing the overall success rate and productivity of the team down.

    I also totally get that people may not want to attend every after-hours activity that their work provides, and understand people have lives outside of work, but you don’t have to stay at an event the whole duration to be supportive. Stopping by even for a few minutes shows that you are supporting the event.

    Some of these people who are posting on here sound like they forget that these activities are intended to be for team-building and worker appreciation. Most of the places I have worked at don’t do any sort of after-hours activities, don’t give any bonuses, and don’t try to do anything nice for the workers at all! Of the few employers who would throw parties many had them during work. They would pay for food to be brought in, buy/rent a bunch of decorations, even give out gifts (usually company shirts, hats, etc.). This was during our normal work hours so the workers were still on the clock! Do you know that very few of the employees even thanked the employers for the parties; some workers even had the audacity to complain!!!

    I have great disdain for the loafers, the slackers, and the deadbeat employees … you are there to get a job done, quit whining, be part of the company you work for, and be thankful you have a job.

    I agree with you Charlie; if you don’t like your job, or the company you work for then why are you still there … move on!

  • While I respect your opinion, it is that an opinion, not a fact. With that said, I work for a market leader in technology. While it’s idealistic believe that everyone should be living out our career as you see it, it’s just not feasible. I could understand if your post was written in say 1993, but this is 2011. People with jobs are doing the work of 2-3 people. Getting their work done “off the clock”. With ever changing priorities, people are putting up with insurmountable pressures in order to do get tasks A and B done, let alone C – M.

    Other people work in departments like HR, which does a lot of hands on employee management.
    Between meetings, meetings, meetings, I personally don’t have time to attend every work function nor do I want to. With all the company driven diversions, it’s unbelievable that management still has the nerve to want the employee to meet the deadlines that management are setting. If I weren’t constantly giving status and meeting, maybe I could make solid progress. Well actually I do make solid progress because I get the BULK of my work done…….after work hours. That is the unwritten reality of corporate staff in today’s world. Other people want to organize offsite volunteering opportunities DURING work hours in order to look good to managment and “feel like a good person”….then those same people who throw all of the co-workers progress time tables off have the nerve to complain how hard is to meet schedules themselves when they are part of the problem that is creating extra stress among the workforce.

    It’s not a perfect world and not all people have pleasurable attitudes, dispositions, and mannerisms. So while we keep things professional at work, you can not expect people to work to mesh whenever you want them too, just because that’s your ideal. Some people don’t want to deal that way. As an HR manager, do you believe in only hiring one personality type regardless of their compentency to do the work?

    You are correct that employment is a 2 way street, however the employees time will always be more valuable than the compensation as any employer is only going to pay enough to have intelligent enough staff to bring the results they want, **while still turning a profit**. So the output of the time is worth more than the compensation to the employer, and when that no longer rings true the employee is laid off or fired.

    So no, I don’t go to every company function because I simply don’t have time, unless the employer doesn’t mind missing their deadlines.

    I never understood the mindset of people who feel like “in order to be a good responsible person your actions should align with my ideals regardless to your circumstance” as if it is others aim in life to meet their approval outside of work performance.

    In my ***opinion***, socializing is a part of work, but keep it at that…at work. Outside of that, get a life.

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