Unintended Consequences of Well-Intentioned Employers


While this is not an exhaustive list for employers, it is a sampling of the most common mis-steps well-intentioned employers make as they work through their day-to-day responsibilities of running a business and employing a team.




1. Unrealistic Expectations

Employers often set their expectations of employees high to encourage workplace efficiency and set the tone for productivity. Examples of unrealistic expectations include expecting perfection, expecting job duties beyond compensation, and expecting the commitment of an owner.

However, when expectations become unrealistic, they can do more harm than good.

  • Erodes self-confidence
  • Creates workplace stress
  • Exhausts employee morale


2. Impossible to Fail

We learn some of our best lessons in life when things don’t go as planned. Allowing employees the latitude to make mistakes without devastating effects is a key element of their skills development on the job.

If Employers micromanage employee tasks and don’t allow them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, the workplace can experience these and other unintended consequences.

  • Slows professional development
  • Undermines trust
  • Discourages autonomy


3. Rewarding with Work

There’s an old saying that goes like this. If you want something done, go ask the busiest person to do it! Putting more work on the plate of your superstars is a common tendency in an organization.

Many employers are guilty of this activity and should look for the following symptoms of this common behavior.

  • Erodes teamwork
  • Creates workplace stress as work piles
  • Discourages taking PTO


4. Motivating with Fear

Each employee is motivated differently. Some respond best to a firm, direct approach. Others respond best to a firm, direct approach. Others respond best to a helpful, supportive approach. One size does not fit all. It’s the employer’s responsibility to figure out the most effective way to motivate each person in their organization. When motivation becomes instilling constant fear for the security of continued employment, fear can create the following outcomes.

  • Encourages people to cover up problems or mistakes
  • Exhausts employee morale
  • Discourages learning and innovation


5. Limited Feedback

We’re all busy and often taking time to train, coach and provide feedback to employees is sacrificed by prioritizing other activities! Some of the best time spent by employers is to provide regular feedback and coaching on job performance. Doing so creates a culture of continuous improvement and open communication.

If an employee is surprised by your feedback, you likely are not providing feedback as frequently as needed and are creating the following unintended consequences in your workplace.

  • Creates a culture of poor communication
  • Blind sides people with feedback
  • Discourages continuous improvement
  • Recent events dominate discussion


Your role as the employer is perhaps one of the most important hats you wear each day. Failure to recognize these unintended consequences can directly impact the morale of your team and the culture of your organization. Pay careful attention to how you manage workload and motivate your team. Your actions have a greater impact than you may think!


By: Jim Marzolf

Vice President, Pipestone Business