Eliminating Workplace Toxicity

toxic peanuts

Workplace toxicity can train-wreck employee productivity and ultimately affect the bottom line. Employees who are present in the body, but emotionally elsewhere because of stress, cost companies more in worker productivity than do workers who play hooky.

A study conducted by Willis Towers Watson revealed a stressed-out work environment costs small and midsized businesses an average of 12.4 days of productivity each year per affected employee. This equates to annual $300 billion, the report said.

“I don’t see how that’s possible given that we only sell about $2 million dollars per year,” questioned Ronald Walheim, President of Walheim’s Carpets in Ashland City, Tennessee.

“We treat our employees like they deserve to be treated, which ain’t all that bad half the time. But it don’t cost us no $300 billion, dang lying cheese ball consultants.”

Walheim’s Carpets has been serving area customers for 22 years.

Walheim says that despite the differences between the Willis Towers Watson report and his views, Walheim’s Carpets has no problem retaining employees for as long as they’re useful.

“Most of our twelve workers have been with the company for at least six months,” Walheim said. “That’s a pretty doggone good track record if you ask me.”

To help other businesses enjoy the same successes, Walheim suggests five key tactics to maintain a nontoxic work environment that benefits the company and its bottom line.

Keep your Enemies Close, your Employees Closer

Walheim suggests keeping close tabs on your employees is essential to success. He says 10-12 hour workdays and an unpaid ½ hour lunch will ensure employees remain loyal, honest, and controllable.

“The good Lord gives each of us so much energy a day, so it’s best to make sure employees use that energy at work,” said Walheim. “Besides, workin’ ‘em from sun up till sundown ensures they get no time to go a-job huntin’. Rascals will hop to another job for another quarter an hour if you let ‘em.”

Offer Employee Assistance

The Willis Tower Watson study revealed that stress and depression are the leading factors in draining productivity. Anxiety over personal finances is cited as an equal threat.

The study suggests helping workers to address these factors can improve employer/employee relationships and can maximize productivity.

A common strategy for helping distressed or substance-abusing workers is to provide an employee assistance program (EAP). Such programs offer employees resources such as therapy, financial management training, and career and life guidance.

Walheim’s Carpets has developed a unique approach to helping employees cope with underlying stressors:

“What we do is sit employees down on their own time and help them navigate Google to find where they can get the help they need at a price they can afford,” said Walheim.

When asked if the company financially contributes to helping its employees, Walheim said, “Not a chance! It ain’t our fault if they can’t put up with a little bit of hard work. And we’re certainly not going to bail anyone out who gets himself hooked on drugs or booze.”

Ironically, Walheim crushed his third can of Old Milwaukee as his digital clock rolled into 10:30 a.m. When we pointed it out he replied, “It’s happy hour somewheres.”

Enforce Mandatory Vacation Time

Walheim said that everybody needs a little time away and that in so doing, employees will return refreshed and ready to work.

“We require our employees to take unpaid time off when my family goes on vacation, two weeks in August and between Christmas and New Year’s,” said Walheim.

“That way, we don’t have to worry about them stealing from us or chasing away any customers,” he continued. “And the beauty of it is that they get a little fresh air so they can come back and work even harder than before.”

Aggressively Monitor Employees’ Social Media Activities

One good way to maintain low turnover is to keep a close eye on employees’ social media accounts, Walheim advises.

“We require our employees to friend us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn, and we follow them on Twitter,” he said. “That way we can look for signs of employees trying to find another job or making fun of the boss. If we suspect that they are trying to leave, we just make them work longer hours including weekends. That benefits both parties as we don’t pay these people no time-and-a-half.”

Walheim says that the best time to connect with employees is when you offer them the job.

“I recommend making it a term of employment or they can go elsewhere,” he said.

Discipline Employees Accordingly

Walheim believes that discipline makes employees stronger and thus provides a more profitable company.

“Nobody likes to give out discipline unless he’s some kind of sicko, but sometimes you just have to,” he said. “As long as it’s done out of love and concern, then it’s proper.”

Walheim says the first step should be to slam the employee up against the wall and “look ‘em in the eye and tell ‘em you mean business.”

“It’s tough love, but most of the time, it works,” he said.

We asked Walheim what happens when shoving the employee against a wall doesn’t work.

“Four outta five Tennessee dentists recommend knocking the gnarly rodent’s teeth out when you gotta,” he said. “And let me tell you, our local dentist ain’t ever hurting for business.”

Trusted sources told us that Walheim’s Carpets was under a joint investigation by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development and the County Sherriff’s Office.

Officials in both agencies said they would neither confirm nor deny an investigation was under way, but conceded that some of Walheim’s suggestions “aren’t altogether bad.”

Buzzwords Land Candidate an Executive-Level Job Offer

buzzword ron

LabelPower, Inc., a global manufacturer of industrial battery labels has named Ronald Gelb as the company’s National Sales Manager. He will work out of a shared cubicle space at LabelPower’s Perth Amboy, New Jersey headquarters.

Gelb most recently worked as an assistant manager at Best Buy in Boston, Massachusetts. Prior to that, he held a number of assistant retail jobs in various malls and shopping centers throughout New England.

Competition was extremely competitive as approximately 35 candidates applied for the position.

The process took nearly 10 months to complete as the search committee needed to work around qualified candidates’ schedule conflicts, which included children’s band practice, sporting events, and job interviews with other companies.

“We were willing to be patient with the candidates’ priorities and were grateful for their honesty,” said LabelPower spokeswoman Charlotte Gladfelter. “In the past, we had sales managers who stole sales leads from their staff, lied about being sick whether or not they showed up to work, and gave LabelPower refrigerator magnets to family members instead of prospective customers.”

Sources close to the search committee indicated that Gelb was not always in the lead for the position, and in fact, was often trailing other candidates.

“It wasn’t until the ninth interview that we knew for certain that Ron was the one,” the source disclosed. “But just like in a good horse race, sometimes a guy wins by a whisker.”

When asked why candidates were subjected to so many interviews, the source explained, “As executives, we are never really sure about what we want and are often unable to make simple decisions such as filling positions that have high turnover due to the way we treat people. Plus, it makes us feel important when we see these desperate men and women return time and again to face the same questions and take repetitive drug screening tests.”

The source also said the decision to select Gelb came down to buzzwords and clichés, something LabelPower considers a best practice.

“Ron used more buzzwords more times with more passion than any other candidate,” the source said. “He said all the right things such as ‘onboarding, high level, the ball being in our court, the workload he anticipated having on his plate, how he would touch base from the road,’ – you name it, Ron said it. He had a buzzword that struck a chord with each member of our search committee, which more than sufficiently made up for the myriad of gaps on his resume.”

“But there was one thing that got our collective motors running,” the source continued. “He began summarizing his qualifications with saying, ‘at the end of the day…’ That was the magic moment that had us all convinced that we had found our National Sales Manager. People who often say ‘at the end of the day’ sound important—they verbally paint a portrait of that peaceful evening feeling of a job well done. It also makes them sound smart. We’re counting on Ron to train our entire sales staff to say ‘at the end of the day’ at least twice during sales presentations, and during intimate moments with their spouses.”

Gelb told a reporter in a telephone interview that he was delighted to be selected for the position and would be rendering a decision as soon as LabelPower’s top competitor let him know if they would bring him onboard for a dollar more an hour than the search committee’s offer.

“At the end of the day, it all boils down to dollars,” Ron said.buzzword ron