Working in a corporate environment is not for everyone. Some people thrive in them, others (like me) wilt and start to slowly unravel mentally. But what about those companies who pride themselves on their "alternative" corporate culture? We've all heard about companies that let you bring pets or have slides between floors, but even that isn't enough to keep some people there.
One Reddit user asked:
Redditors who left companies that non-stop talk about their amazing "culture", what was the cringe moment that made you realize you had to get out?
The answers are, honestly, kind of killing our hope that any corporate environment can really be different from the others. Having said that, it's also making us really thankful that we can write this article from our sofa while slamming guac and wearing no pants.
Some responses have been edited for content/clarity.
Everyone's A Director.Giphy
They changed the title of the receptionist to "Director of First Impressions."
Working WiFi Was TOO CRAZY
Had a "wall of crazy" where the CEO wanted to spend 20k on cool and edgy stuff for the office. Staff could make suggestions (Slides, beanbags, napping pods, etc)
Project was scrapped when the top suggestions ended up being:
- Working Heating
- Working WiFi
- Health Insurance
Profits Up? Cut Bonuses!Giphy
I'm in management and we just got the message that bonuses for the last financial year were severely cut across the business, probably going to receive 30% of our usual - at best. Then I attended our financial end of year results meeting the next day to be told that net profits were 18% up (nearly 1 billion total) and the best performance in years, all thanks to us.
So even though our profits were way up, the bonuses were cut? Employees who were not upper management would never have that information. Planning on leaving now.
"Work Hard, Play Hard"
They had an entire area devoted to foosball, pinball, billiards, console gaming, and videoke booths on the ground floor and it was clearly visible because of the glass windows on street level. Oddly enough, nobody ever used them, and the place was almost always empty save for a few people who use the internet kiosks.
When I learned a friend worked there, I asked why nobody would want to take the opportunity to use the awesome-looking recreational facility, he told me that people who do use the facility often found it used against them during performance evaluations, even when their use wasn't excessive at all. After a while word got around and they started avoiding the place altogether.
The irony is that their recruitment ads always touts a culture of "work hard play hard"
Like A Criminal
A co-worker was forced to work while her mother was dying in hospice. Mom dies, she quits, they escort her off the premises like a criminal.
"We Were Expected To Sing Along"Giphy
When I went to firm drinks in a public bar and the firm's "fun committee" handed out song sheets and a choir of employees lead by a bad guitarist sang a song about how great the firm was to the tune of 'Cause I'm Happy. We were expected to sing along. It was at that moment I realized I was in a cult.
We (management team) spent months working with a business coach trying to collectively come up with meaningful core values. We devoted a ton of time to it and really tried to decide which direction we wanted to take the company culture. Everybody agreed on teamwork, reliability, a couple others that I can't remember now, and then one day the owner came in and called a meeting.
He sat us down in the boardroom and told us he spent all weekend brainstorming and had decided on the core values. They were:
Meaningful Ownership Neighbourhood Engagement You
Does anybody see what that spells? He literally wanted it to be money and just came up with words that sort of worked the way you do in elementary school writing your name poem.
He rebranded the entire company from t shirts with giant first letters and smaller letters for the rest of the word straight down the arms, to plagues, wraps on the cars, everything.
And that's when we all knew it was going to get bad.
Money is great, but it was mortifying walking/driving around with that plastered everywhere.
Banned From Saying The Word Bathroom
When we couldn't say "bathroom" on the shop floor and instead had to ask a manager for "serenity."
Not me, but my husband worked for two weeks for a "family owned and operated" business that touted how important "family" was and that they were all one happy "family." My husband was on his way to drop our at the time 2 year old son off at daycare before work when son threw up all over himself. Husband called his employer to tell them what happened and that he needed to take son home and clean him up but he'd be in asap.
His manager told him he needed to get his priorities straight. He responded with "You know what? You're right, I won't be back in at all." He was still working part time at his previous job where they had been sad that he was leaving, so he called them and told them to put him back on the schedule full-time. The "family" business is currently in the process of liquidating assets before going out of business and I cackle every time I drive past it.
Shedding Tears For Apple
I worked for Apple back in their heyday and it was always constant and terrible. But one guy who was an assistant manager (or something like that) took time out during a store meeting to evangelize to us (his words) about how Apple was going to change each of our lives so drastically that we wouldn't recognize ourselves any more. About five minutes in to his proselytizing, the tears began to flow and he openly sobbed about how Apple was the greatest thing on the planet.
He was ultimately let go for being late too many times and had to be escorted from the store out the back door because he was crying and refused to leave his "home."
I am still working at the company but am job hunting.
It is a school for troubled youth. One of the perks it lists for the students is if they have a good week (no aggression and good attendance) then they get to hang out in the "club house" on Friday afternoons. The "club house" is never used for anything else.
The issue is none of the staff gets breaks other than the bathroom. There is no where to go. We would all love a break room and a place to eat lunch without students. Some students will steal or touch our food while we are trying to eat. It makes sense for the clubhouse to be a space that the teachers can use for breaks as well. But no.
Only two kids ever get to use it and only for 3 hours on Friday.
There is giant tv and xbox and playstation and fridge with snacks, but most of the time is locked and empty. Why can't we teachers use it too?
When they decided to put the most inept, useless, waste of a human being as the head of the "funshine" club, I knew the place was dog sh!t. The idea was if we got cupcakes once a month we wouldn't want to hang ourselves in the office. Mind you, the dude was the CFO of the company. He just gave himself the title of "Chief Funshine Officer." Ugh.
Not Smiling Enough
Worked for a hotel, new managers were absolutely determined to create a different "culture" in the workplace. I realized I had to get out when a waitress got pulled aside and berated for about 10 minutes for not smiling enough. What those idiots didn't know, and never gave her the chance to explain, was that the waitress herself had been hospitalized for depression a year earlier, and her Dad died 2 months ago. I handed in my notice as soon as I could.
Late to this party, but I worked for a large foreign exchange at the head office. They hung awards they had won for being the best place to work all over the entrance. They had a really nice automated coffee machine (back when that was rare and expensive). They had a masseuse come in bi weekly.
The boss, however, would openly berate employees. He would sh!t all over me, and yet, I would get massive bonuses for doing a good job. His office was a floor below ours, and we all shared a large office; about 9 people in an office sized for 3. We had one front line support girl who was truly amazing. Super personable, pretty tech savvy, and always wanting to learn new things.
I worked there for 3 months. One day, she gets a call. I can hear his voice booming through the phone from across the office, berating her, and making her cry in front of her coworkers. Later that day, I called around, had an interview over lunch, and went to HR to quit. In 3 months, I had 4 pages of grievances. HR had never seen something that bad. They called previous people that quit and found out it was a pattern. He was fired later, and she was promoted to his job, basically from near the bottom. Poetic justice.
Building Up The RhythmGiphy
The CEO was creepy, not in a sleazy way but in a "barely human" kind of way. I'd love to know how these "almost people" types are usually in managerial positions.
This guy was a mixture of new age hippie, actor snob, businessman, arrogant rich bastard and just generally the type of person to use pretentious catchphrases and buzzwords to try to sound intelligent and "with it".
When I met him it was clear he had no clue who I was or what I was doing at the business. He gave me one of those airy "what the f^ck" smiles when we met like he'd never heard of an intern before. It was also clear he barely interacted with staff beyond the once weekly group lunches.
At these lunches, he made staff do presentations about their research on some plan/product he might want to invest in one day. But he'd continually interrupt their presentations with questions, and try to trip them up on their lack of knowledge. He'd also critique their "performance". He'd interrupt to talk about the employee's tone of voice, volume, stage presence and use the moment to brag about his own acting classes. Meanwhile the employees just wants to eat their damn lunch.
He also had these creepy ass introduction videos for newbies where he spoke about the "building up the rhythm of business" or some shit, at one point comparing it to sex which.......................................... ew.
Every morning employees had to stand in a circle and do some sort of action to "build up a rhythm" which was some sort of positive reinforcement motivation crapola. He was never present for these, and it was simply humiliating.
When I was told that vacations only mean that one works 5-6 hours a day from the location you are vacationing at as opposed to the usual 10-12 hours a day from the office. Um, no.
I was also asked to carry a portable wifi to be able to work out of a hospital, where I was visiting a loved one.
Conference was held in city where I have friends. I decided to have dinner with them rather than attend the optional games night (especially when we just had a mandatory evening activity the night before). I was told to go f^ck myself and my friends. By the boss.
Customers Watching Us Play Musical ChairsGiphy
Worked at a Best Buy and in the morning meetings we had to play stupid games to boost team morale 'culture'. The cringiest moment that made me realize I had to leave was playing musical chairs on a Saturday morning as customers waiting for the store to open were peeking through the windows and watching us.
Pubic Hair And A Ping Pong Table
When my boss undid his pants in the studio to tuck his shirt in exposing his pubic hair. Also when a ping pong table was put up behind my desk for devs to unwind with. The constant noise made me want to cut myself.
"We Can't Provide A 5-Star Product"
Extended Stay Hotels. Everything they did could go in a corporate horror movie.
Acronyms. Acronyms. More acronyms.
The company has spent the past 10 years whittling away property budgets to almost nothing. The reception computers are 15 years old, important stuff breaks and they won't fix it. One time the front desk printer ran out of ink and the district manager didn't approve a new order for 2 weeks. That's my bosses, bosses, boss in charge of approving our office supplies. They pay the managers nothing, they pay front desk nothing, housekeepers get 25 minutes to clean each room and also get paid nothing. And they have no clue why a housekeeping position opens and they get 0 applications.
The place is staffed to the bare minimum to save money. A 90 room hotel that has 1 person working, come on man.
They give managers bonuses if they spend under certain amounts. I've filled in at hotels that had no dishes, didn't have enough towels and one property that was putting sheets on the beds with cigarette burns because that was all they had.
Before I left my new district manager sent an email out that said "we can't provide a 5 star product but we can provide 5 star service!" That's corporate speak for "we want perfect customer reviews and we want you to do it with no budget!"
The entire company is ran by B-School grads who have never stepped foot in one of the hotels. Most of the initiatives have no chance of working.
Not that they care. All they see is the bottom line.