Demeaning Ways Employers Discipline Employees

If you’ve ever come across a manic boss who uses screaming, swearing, bullying and demeaning as a way to discipline staff, you know how toxic an environment can become. Discipline in the workplace is meant to correct behavior and ensure company rules are followed. It’s not meant to punish or embarrass an employee. The following employers didn’t seem to get that memo and instead chose to discipline their staff through intimidation, physical threats and even death.

Nasty messages on paychecks

In the past, Japanese work culture revolved around one core belief: “lifetime employment.” Workers began employment with a company shortly after graduation from university and remained with that company until retirement. Today, however, Japan’s workers have less job security, but are still under pressure to perform at unrealistic levels, suggests Japan Today.

Today, so-called black, or dark, enterprises are probably the epitome of everything that’s wrong in Japan, suggests The Japanese Times. Companies such as  Watami even received “The Most Evil Corporation of The Year” award due to its notoriously appalling mistreatment of young workers.

In 2008, 26-year-old Mina Mori, an employee of Watami, committed suicide after reportedly working 141 hours of overtime in one month — unpaid. In an interview with Watami restaurant manager, the ex-manager claimed that he was expected to work from 7 a.m. until 12 a.m. each day with almost no breaks, accumulating over 300 hours a month of unpaid overtime, according to

Apparently upper management even went so far as to write messages on paychecks for underperforming employees such as “regret as hard as you die!” and “you should reflect on your sales this month by killing yourself.”

Spanking for poor performance

Recently, shocking video emerged showing a man in China spanking employees on a stage, hard and violently, with a large paddle because they were underperforming, reported MailOnline.  Changzhi Zhangze Rural Commercial Bank has since suspended its chairman, reports skyNews, after the man in the video, a motivational trainer, cut off the hair of employees and smacked their bottoms. Trainer Jiang Yang paraded employees on stage before proceeding to spank them as a form of discipline.

I’m not quite sure what would compel an employer to spank his employees. But even more shocking, why would anyone think they had to endure that sort of punishment and humiliation.   

Threats of death

When 15 senior officials complained about North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un policies, he didn’t fire them, he had them executed, reported MailOnline. The Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea with an iron fist for more than six decades. Apparently, Kim Jong-un follows his father’s and grandfather’s methods of discipline to ensure loyalty among his subordinates.

Defence minister Hyon Yong-Chol is thought to be the latest official executed, according to the Guardian.

“The purge sends a message that helps to discipline the military,” according to Kim Yong Hyun, a former professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

When your boss is a bully

Thankfully, we live in a culture that doesn’t condone this sort of behavior. But truthfully, that doesn’t mean bad behavior doesn’t exist in the workplace. In fact, a quarter of American employees do not trust their employer, according to The American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey.

One-third of employees surveyed reported feeling tense or stressed out during the workday. The biggest reason for work stress was low salaries and lack of opportunity for growth and advancement. In addition, unclear job expectations, job insecurity and long hours were among the top-five reasons cited for work stress.

In a interview with Forbes Magazine, Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” says there are many ways in which an employer can bully his or her staff.

“It could be by yelling at them if the employee doesn’t please the boss. It could be by constantly threatening them, always telling the employee that their job is at stake,” says Taylor. “It could be by embarrassing them by constantly criticizing them in front of their co-workers. It could be by putting the employee in an uncomfortable position; giving them an order that puts the employee’s job or reputation in jeopardy. And sometimes bullying can be less obvious. The bullying boss may simply ignore the employee or not include them in meetings anymore.”

The negative effect of a boss who bullies could bring on depression, self-doubt and can lower an employee’s self-esteem. These characteristics can also carry over to an employee’s personal life, suggest Andy Teach, author of “From Graduation to Corporation.”

How to deal with a bully boss

Moving up in your career is hard enough without the antics of a bully. If you work in a unionized environment, then file a grievance with your local rep. Or, visit your Human Resource department. If they’re unwilling to do anything to help resolve the situation, then as a last resort, speak to a labor lawyer. No one should ever have to put up with being demeaned in the workplace.  

—Katherine Marko

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