Employees? Bah Humbug!

Some employees are paragons of professionalism. And others, not so much.

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Marty Nemko
Marty Nemko
Last Monday, it was bah, employers. Fair is fair, so today, it's bah, employees.

Of course, some employees deserve sainthood, but Scrooge would rather skewer the sinners.

Some employees are bad from the day they apply. Their résumé is creative writing, their references are bogus. After getting hired, their expense accounts and accountability reports are no more honest than are their job applications.

They focus more on sizzle than steak: They're as committed to suck-up networking as to getting work done, to wardrobe as to professional development.

They have no compunction about getting paid for work hours they spend playing on the Internet or about taking sick days when they're not sick. They rationalize, "My boss sucks so I need a mental health day." Or they don't even bother to rationalize: "Oh, the Giants are playing the Dodgers today so I think I'll call in sick."

They frequently leave work early, leaving their co-workers in the lurch. A favorite rationale is the kid excuse: The employee claims kiddo has a doctor's appointment or even just a soccer game. They know that co-workers will be reluctant to object because that could seem anti-child or even sexist.

They sabotage good workers to make themselves look better in comparison. For example, they might withhold crucial information from a good employee but claim they didn't. Or they dig to find dirt on good employees and tell others about it. And if there is no dirt, no problem, they just make it up.

When such employees receive a bad performance review, they don't work to improve, they deflect blame: It's the boss, the company, the lack of direction, too much direction, anything but that the employee is lazy, stupid, skill-free, sleazy or all of the above.

Knowing they're at risk of getting "laid off" if not out-and-out fired, such employees file a legal claim: discrimination, harassment, Americans with Disabilities Act, etc. That way, if they get dumped, they can claim it's retaliation and get their job back.

If such employees do get terminated, they're ever more likely to file a claim of wrongful termination, valid or not, and they have 20 bases to make that claim. Whether or not the claim is valid, it costs the employer big bucks plus the tremendous stress of defending against it.

The cost of hiring an American is great and growing. On top of salaries that are higher than in most of the world, there's the cost of the Affordable Care Act, worker's compensation, Social Security, Medicare, Social Security Disability Insurance, sick days, vacation days, the Family and Medical Leave Act (paid leave in California and New Jersey) the Americans with Disabilities Act, wrongful termination and other employee claims.

Is it any wonder that employers are automating and offshoring as much as possible, and whatever hiring they do is often part-time or temp? Is it any wonder why America's recovery – if it really a recovery – is a jobless one? Is it any wonder why, quietly, many employers think, "Employees? Bah, Humbug!"

Editor's note: Next week in Marty Nemko's Bah series he'll tackle work-life balance.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian called Dr. Nemko "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach." His latest books are How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School and What's the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. He writes weekly for AOL.com as well as for USNews.com. More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on www.martynemko.com.