Bad Employees - or - Entitlement Ideology?

Inspired by this thread I started thinking about all the employee conflicts I’ve been involved in or been witness to in the past. For some background, I’ve worked in retail / service industry as well as the corporate sector, and I currently work in politics (no jokes, please!). I came to the realization that as an employer, the workers I had the biggest problems with were those who felt entitled to something they honestly weren’t owed. Case in point:

Most of my employees at the time were college kids. I dealt with (on more than one occaision) employees who felt that if they asked to leave early because they didn’t study for a test, I was being unreasonable if I didn’t let them.

Personal calls were also an issue. Employees seemed to think they had a right to come in to work, clock in, and then spend two hours on the phone trying to register for classes while on the clock. I mean, you’d think I’d suddenly sprouted horns when I told them they had to clock out for personal calls (non-emergency) and that I wouldn’t let them clock out until they went on break! I mean, I must be the antichrist in disguise, really!

There was also one guy who cursed at me and walked out on a shift because I got on to him for having his girlfriend come behind the counter to visit him while he was on the clock. (Friends visiting is a no-no, anyone other than employees behind the counter is a no-no, and I’d had to talk to him numerous times about this before)

Now, it’s not that I wasn’t receptive to the needs of college students. Most of my employees were older than I was, but even in the corporate sector I’m finding the same type of behavior.

My question is how do people justify this kind of behavior? I mean, I’m sure my examples aren’t the most extreme I’ve come across, just the ones that stick out in my mind at the moment, but since when are employers required to accomodate your social life?

Wow. I thought this was going to be about sick time. That’s something of a debate in my little group - most of us don’t use all of our sick time (hardly any of it, in fact), while others will use any and all time available to them, viewing it as an entitlement.

As for accomodating your social life, well, mine sure as heck isn’t. I was supposed to have Tuesday off as a vacation day, but had to cancel when a last minute deadline cropped up.

I don’t understand the attitudes you’ve described, but I’ve witnessed them myself - and it’s not confined to college students, unfortunately.

I heard of crappy or weird work schedules (such as 3:30 to midnight) being a justification, but it sounds like you’ve dealt mostly with 9-to-5ers.


I’m the owner of a business. As such, I can come and go as I please, accountable only to the bottom line, right?

Wrong, according to one former employee. He seemed honestly resentful that he was expected to work a full 8-hour day, when I didn’t have to. (Buddy, if you only knew.) He didn’t last too long, of course.

I don’t know how people justify this behaviour but I have definitely seen my share of it. Some people do seem to carry some kind of entitlement ‘chip on their shoulders’. On the other hand, some people just don’t seem to have the whole “work ethic” thing going on. In some cases it appears to be more due to youth and/or lack of experience and in others this type of behaviour almost resembles boundary vagueness or something of that nature.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how these people get by because you really do have to follow accepted rules of behaviour in the workplace if you want to make any kind of living. I suppose that sooner or later, they do learn. Or, maybe they find their niche or whatever, in some type of work that doesn’t require the usual etiquette.

It’s bizarre and very uncomfortable to deal with as a manager, I find. It’s frustrating and embarassing to have to spell out to people what they should really already know.

I’ve seen plenty of this behavior, but it isn’t limited by age. Oh, some of 'em were very young so maybe part of it could be chalked up to inexperience. But it’s very weird in such a tight, brutal job market.

BTW, I’m not talking about employees having to suck up abusive treatment, tug their forelocks and “be grateful for the job”. That’s just plain rotten behavior too, not to mention stupid and self-defeating.

But I’ve had employees angry because they were stopped from just leaving: still “on the clock”, no request, no nuthin’. Or the one who was resentful because he 1. wasn’t paid and 2. got written up because he failed to show up for work at all. We bend over backwards to accomodate work schedules but c’mon, actually doing the work has to factor in there somewhere.

The really frustrating part is there are so many people who’d love a crack at a job and do their flat, level best to produce. Anybody who could figure out a better way to match up the two would make a mint in “how-to” guides alone, not to mention performing a real public service.


If I had a work-related crystal ball, this would be the first thing on my list to find out about potential employees. I’ve never mastered any way of figuring this out from an interview (anyone have any tips?) Most people are smart enough not to say things like “oh, I want a job where my girlfriend can hang out with me all the time” in the interview, but yet, they obviously think this because lo and behold, there is the girlfriend showing up as soon as they’re on the payroll.

And then there are the folks who arrive right at the start of their shifts(sort of on time) but aren’t ready to work yet. They have to put up their coat, get their cap/apron/uniform shirt on, and so forth. Yet they are resentful when told they can’t clock in as they arrive.

I shared the outline of my experience with the Employee From Hell (EFH) on the other thread.
I realize in retrospect that I was partially responsible for the situation in that I treated the EFH as an independent rationale human being instead of riding herd on her constantly. Silly me.
In my defense however, I have to say that I was just trying to be the kind of employer that I’d always wanted to work for-some one who treated me as an intelligent human being capable of performing simple tasks without supervision.

She labored under the illusion that just showing up entitled her to a paycheck.
She also truly could not understand why it was totally unacceptable to bring her personal life into the office.
She constantly whined that she wasn’t making enough money to make ends meet although she ended up at around $12.50 an hour for being a glorified receptionist with health bennies.
When I chastised her for acting in a blatantly unprofessional manner-she always had an excuse or justification for her behavior. Always. Nothing was ever her fault.

I do hold her parents somewhat responsible-both her mother and father were constantly bailing her out financially at 26.They had raised her to believe that the world revolved around her needs, her feelings and her wants. If Precious was having a bad day, well, then everybody in her immediate vicinity should be having a bad day too, right?

I don’t think she’s doing real well in the Austin job market today.

The personal phone calls thing has always been my biggest beef with cow-orkers. Unfortunately, it is usually the female cow-orkers who have the most trouble understanding that the job comes before the phone call.

If I walk into your cube and you are in the midst of a personal phone call, I give you two options;

A> Tell them that you have to go and hang up.
B> Tell me that you’ll get back to me (in less than 15 minutes).

They don’t seem to understand why oh why I get pissy when they simply turn their backs on me, plug their off-ear and continue the personal conversation.

Because YOU ARE AT WORK and I expect you to be WORKING!!!

Yes…sick time is as much an entitlement as your salary. If the company doesn’t want you taking 3 or 4 weeks off a year, they shouldn’t offer it. They should also not begrudge someone for taking a day off from work.
It works both ways. From my experience in the corporate world, it seems like its the employers who feel a sense of entitlement. Just because you pay someones salary does not mean you just bought yourself a slave.

When I am at work or work related functions, I am working. I try to do the best work I can and I don’t mind doing a little extra to get the job done. What I don’t go for are things like:

-calling me at home
-asking me to cancel vacation plans made in advance
-calling or emailing me at 11:00pm at night and expecting that your needs will be addressed by 8:00am
-asking me to hang out socially with people after work

I don’t bring my personal shit to the office. Keep your office out of my shit.
I’m also starting to get pretty sick of traveling all over the place, working late at the last minute and generally having to act like my job is more important to me than life itself. It’s just a job.

I got a bad reputation because I DIDN’T answer other people’s personal calls. In our workgroup, eight people shared common phone lines, but each person had a personal line that appeared only on their phone…and rang into their own personal voicemail. However, without fail, people would give out the phone number to the lines that rang on EVERYONE’S desk.

After three months of taking messages, and asking callers to hold(because the person they were calling was on ANOTHER personal call…), I got wise and started checking the CALLER ID. It was easy to tell which calls were business related, so I started ignoring the personal calls. People were really pissed at me because they were missing ‘important’ calls!

There should be a required class on this subject in high school. It should cover the rights of employees and what is expected of them as an employee.

All I can give you is one simple rule.
[ul][li] Never hire someone who says “I really need a job.”[/ul][/li]When I first started hiring, this statement would make me feel good about hiring the person that said it. Soon it dawned on me that they wouldn’t even show up the first day or were absent a lot and an all around bad employee. So I tried making a policy that I wouldn’t hire someone that said “I really need a job.”. Because it seems like a stupid rule I would break it from time to time and every time I’d get burned.
Well, that’s my little tidbit. :wink:

It is? Everywhere I’ve worked, it’s a perk.

Employers are certainly entitled to expect people to earn their pay. And employees are entitled to look for other work if they can’t live with their workplace rules, conditions or culture.

I agree that it should work both ways, and that there has to be some kind of happy median for both parties. There are labour laws in place that theoretically give employees recourse for really rotten treatment. Employer’s recourse tends to be: “You’re fired.”

My employees know that as long as they get their work done, I really couldn’t care less about things like personal calls. We give them the leeway they need to deal with their life, even if it IS on the clock sometimes, and in return, they don’t usually mind going the extra mile if called upon. It’s the ones that have the attitude that “Now that I’m on the payroll, you OWE me” that don’t do well.

Employees are NOT entitled to a paycheque under any circumstances they choose. That’s reality.

Of course, there is also the reverse situation as well. The employee does a hell of a good job, comes in on weekends when they’re needed and has a great rapport with the clients. Yet, when push comes to shove, the employer gripes about the 5 minutes the employee is on the clock doing non-work related activities while ignoring the break the employee skipped and the extra 15 minutes they spent beyond their shift off the clock just because they want to do a good job. Overall performance is key here in my opinion. If the employee is a mediocre or below average performer then these types of infractions say quite about their work ethic. However, if the employee is a hard worker and more then compensates for an occasional lapse I feel this should be taken into account.


Where did you work?

You are entitled to occasionally take time off to go to the doctor, take a vacation or do whatever.

When you go to work for a company, you receive a certain amount of personal time. This is yours to keep. If you leave the company, they have to pay you for it as if you worked those days.

What happens is that companies use fear and intimidation to make people afraid to use the vacation time they’ve earned so it gets wasted.

Okay, no fair changing what we both said. You said:

That’s exactly what I quoted, isn’t it? I never said vacation is a perk. You never said vacation time is a perk.

Sick days or personal time are a perk, everywhere I’ve worked. It’s usually offered as part of employment incentive and can vary wildly.

In Ontario at least, vacation is required by law: 2 weeks after the first year of employment, to be taken by the employee or paid to the employee in lieu of time, within 10 months after the first year anniversary of employment commencement. AFAIK, this basic minimum is NOT negotiable, by law it’s not variable. You may be able to negotiate more, however, if the employer really wants to keep you.

Nowhere did I say that vacation time is a perk.

mssmith537, maybe you’re thinking of unpaid emergency leave?

This is according to the Employment Standards Act in Ontario, anyhow.

How do employees come to feel entitled? Umm, let me count the ways.

Salaries frozen for two years - no raises or promotions allowed for any reason.

Increased resposibilities and work load due to RIF.

Travel expenses not reimbursed for more than ninty days. (It’s true)

Uncompensated overtime for salaried employees.

Reductions in benefits (Health insurance, vacation, 401K)

These are just a few things that make employees feel entitled, and everyone one of them is a current reality in my world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s right or acceptable. I’m only pointing out some of the reasons employees use to justify their actions.

As a manager I have to deal with this on a daily basis. I’m pretty lenient and I’m willing to work with people. Ya want to use the company phone to make long distance calls to your kids in Broken Pelvis, Wyoming? Since the phone service is a flat rate I don’t care, but do it on your time, not mine. Want to leave early, no problemo, stay late when I need you and don’t whine. I won’t ask unless it’s really important. Need a long weekend but don’t have any vacation time? Work four ten hour days - I’m flexable.

I don’t know. In my last job they lumped all vacation/sick/personal time into “PTO”. Other jobs separated sick and vacation time. Either way, it always ends up being a big pain in the ass whenever I need to take a day off.

I can’t stand the “entitlement attitude” that some people have.

I’m not getting my soapbox out, but when employees expect to get paid without actually working, when employers think they can call you for a three hour phone call while you’re on your holidays and when people who are on welfare complain about having to stand in a line to get their free money then I wish somebody would come up with a way to distinguish between good, decent people and entitlement-minded wastes of space.

If I was an employer, I definitely wouldn’t bother employing someone who had the ‘I deserve…’ attitude, if there was some way of finding out.