If you haven’t heard about it until now, employment at will is definitely a notion you need to look into, both as an employee and as a manager. Why? Because, even though at first glance it seems like something that can benefit management, it can actually harm you both. In this piece, we will show you what is at will employment and a few ways in which it’s the most negative things to befall your company.
What Is at Will Employment?
In very simple terms, the idea of at will employment means that, in the United States, it is legal for your employer to fire you whenever he sees fit and for whatever reason he wants. In fact, no explanation or a beforehand warning is needed whatsoever. However, the law also states that the employer can leave anytime he or she wants under the same conditions.
The only thing that the law requires is for the employer not to discriminate when firing. For example, you cannot terminate someone’s contract for being an African American or a woman.
However, an employer may fire someone if they feel they’re too attractive, not attractive enough, if they don’t share the same political views or support the same baseball team.
Now that you know what is at will employment, let’s see if it’s good or bad for your company.
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How Does It Affect the Workplace?
Here are just a few of the reasons why you, as an employer will soon discover just how bad it is to take advantage of this law.
- Employees will only be working in your company to make you happy once they hear you have started to enforce employment at will. Their sole purpose will be not to get fired instead of actually doing their job.
- Every time something happens in the company, everyone will quietly start looking for other jobs. Instead of openly discussing difficult situations as they should, the fear of getting fired will drive all your employees to interviews with other companies.
- Employment at will allows poor managers to remain in their position forever. Upper management will never hear about lower management doing a bad job. Nobody will have the courage to speak up. You will lose money and business over these bad employees in power positions.
- Instead of being proactive, promoting creative ideas, and developing your business, employees will work only to keep middle management happy. Keep in mind that middle management might not be in line with what you have envisioned for your company. That being said, the fear of being fired will squash employees into submission. You will never get to hear their ideas.
- It creates a massive divide in your company which you will never be able to recover from. Once you enforce this policy, you will have to deal with an “us versus them” type of situation. The employees will be on one side of the barricade. You, your lower managers, and the HR team will be on the other side. They will secretly despise you, believing that you are out to get them.
So, what is at will employment? All in all, it’s a measure that will weaken the relationship between you and your employees. Remember, if they work in constant fear of being fired, they will never be able to live up to their full potential. Or even enjoy employment at your company. Plus, they will carry the word to others about the atmosphere in your offices.