I'm fortunate enough to lead a company that has been recognized locally and nationally as a great place to work.
My management team and I genuinely care about Beryl's employees and work hard to create an environment where they love what they do every day. We have fun, we participate in local community events, we focus on training and development, and we consistently reward and recognize people. When staffers go through a tough time, we help them behind the scenes and offer support.
But for some people, that is not enough. I find some employees still have a "what have you done for me lately" attitude. In some cases, employees seem entitled, when what they should be do is show gratitude. Some might attribute this to the millennial generation, but I don't think that's the whole story.
Dealing With Entitled Employees
Let me explain a few examples:
1. During the holidays one year, we set up an "angel tree" and invited employees to list gifts they wanted for their children that they could not otherwise afford. One woman went to human resources upset because she had a long list of gifts on her card, and the person who picked it didn't buy everything; she was upset that the bike she received was blue, not green.
2. A few years ago, I knew employees were struggling when gas prices were over $5 per gallon. So I bought $50 gas cards for all 350 employees. The response was incredible appreciation--except for one woman who came in asking for an extra card because she had two cars.
3. Every holiday season, we have a big holiday party for employees and spouses. It is a lavish event with a budget over $50,000, and we always have a "casino" so that employees can play for raffle tickets, and earn great prizes like iPads and Xboxes. One year, an IT staffer went to Wal-Mart and bought raffle tickets in the same color we were giving out that night and stuffed all the prize jars with the names of members of his team. They won all the prizes. (And he got fired.)
So if you already treat employees well, how do you handle those who don't appreciate it? Here's three ways to deal with unappreciative employees:
They won't know if you don't tell them. At Beryl, managers don't hesitate to sit down with entitled employees, and let them know their actions are unacceptable.
Don't spend too much time focusing on the bad apples. If people are not on board with your mission, let them go.
Resist the Urge to Enable
While at times we step in and help employees in catastrophic financial situations, we look to work out long-term solutions. We don't assist with day-to-day financial woes--and let them know they're on their own for that.
While you may find humor telling stories about entitled employees, your time and energy would be much better spent praising and developing those who "get it." Create a great place to work, but be clear from the get-go about the value of your efforts.