10 Lies Big Companies Tell Their Employees

May 15, 2007

We’re Working On It
Managers are busy; they often have one million requests in queue. Whatever it is might be “on their list” but they can only do one thing at a time. Often “we’re working on it” means we know about it and should do something about it but don’t have time so we’ll put you off until you drop it or forget about it.

Its Only Temporary
Companies tell you this to ease the transition during times of change; they don’t really know if it’s temporary or not. If it works out in their favor it will likely end up being permanent.

I Don’t Know
Often there are times when a manager does know something; they just don’t want to tell you for one reason or another. I’d rather them say they know but can’t or won’t tell me than lie to my face.

Its Company Policy
This one is just as infuriating as when you asked your mom or dad why and the response was, because we say so and we’re your parents. Any company can make exceptions to their own rules. They encourage “thinking out of the box” when it comes to saving or making the company money but when it comes to company policy for employees they like to keep you trapped in the box.

More Money Won’t Make You Happy
My boss once said something to the effect of, “I can’t make them happy by giving them more money. If they don’t like it here, they’ll leave eventually”. What managers really mean, “it’s not worth it to us to pay you that much”. Companies can’t motivate you with money and still make their corporate profit targets so they use lame replacements such as occasional pizza parties or Hawaiian shirt Fridays.

We Want You to Have a Life Outside Work
Oh, by the way. The client moved up the deadline, I need those TPS reports by tonight, and it’s your week to carry the pager. Enough said.

The Customer is Always Right
Sometimes the customer is misguided or misinformed. Other times what they’re asking for just isn’t worth it for the company or for your time. However, in an effort to appease the customer at all costs, managers will do whatever it takes, including asking you to work all hours.

We Reward Excellence
This one is more a bending of the truth than a lie. The company may actually reward their top performers but often the reward is not commensurate with the effort you put in. So while technically they do offer small rewards to some people, the majority of excellence you exhibit goes unrewarded.

Our Salaries are Competitive in the Market
Salaries are the biggest cost for most companies. The 80/20 rules says you get your biggest cost savings from 20 percent of your expenses so some companies keep those salaries as low as they can. The keep the salaries low enough to meet their earnings reports but just high enough to keep you working there.

Hope You Enjoy Your Vacation
How many times have you worked a 60 hour week before you went on vacation to finish up lose ends and then a 60 hour week when you got back to catch up on what you missed? Unless my math is wrong, I still worked the same number of hours, just distributed them differently. The company gives you the time off but doesn’t give you time to take it.

In case you couldn’t tell, sometimes I get a little fed up with life in a big corporation. Thanks for letting me vent! What are some other tall tales you’ve heard from Mr. Lundberg, aka your boss?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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37 Responses to 10 Lies Big Companies Tell Their Employees

  • tackleberry

    “we promtoe from within”

  • Lydia

    My experience with HR (i used to work in it and managed, too) is that they work for the employer not for the employee. Just like a realtor works for the seller, not the buyer. That was an eye opener as I always thought, going into it, that HR would work for both sides’ benefit: sort of a mediator with truth and justice and fairness as the guide. Sorry! Wrong! Although they go through the hoops and help you fill out paperwork for your benefits, tell you deadlines for certain benefits, etc., they are NOT really there to represent you in any difficulty with the employer: They are there to minimize any chances of lawsuit and to carry out any agendas (personal or corporate) of the higher ups. They are there to protect the company’s interests and not yours. Don’t talk to them unless it is about paperwork benefits, etc.

  • thehungrydollar.com

    If I had a dollar for every time I heard “It’s only temporary” I’d be a rich man! Like you already said, they really have no idea and are just trying to ease your frustrations. I’d much rather hear the truth though! At least that way I can move forward instead of dwelling on something I can’t change.

  • Perfume

    In my last job we had a power outage towards the evening, with about an hour left before the office closed there was no lights,no computers and it got pretty dark towards 4 o’clock, anyway the finance director would sit slap bang in the middle of the office, you couldn’t see your own hand ..did he let us go home ..nope. In fact he carried on working in the dark! beat that for scroogy employers.

  • tracy ho

    Is great to know now , great pst .

    need to prepare for option 2 plan,


    Tracy ho

  • Wendy

    We live in a sad world people. All of these company excuses basically are possible (and swallowed by us every day) because most of us need a job and are usually quite happy that we actually have one. As a manager once said to me “you’ll have to put up with it until you can do better”….well I did…do better 🙂

  • Cheapster Bob

    Ha, Ha! I’ve heard many of these. I roll my eyes whenever they pull out the “time with family” or “competitive wages” statements.

    I’ve developed a translator in my head.

    “We want you to have more time with your family”– We are desperate to cut overtime so you will be forced to go home while those not on overtime will work like slaves.

    We don’t offer the highest or the lowest but we offer competitive wages.– We will cap your wage so once you start making decent money you will have no choice but to quit and we will replace you with the minimum salary worker.

    The sad fact is while we have the meetings and this garbage is spewed there are always some morons who gobble it up believing every word because it came from a “superior.”

  • Simon Maders

    We were told we will be getting a bonus this christmas for all the orders we’ll be shipping this christmas, we’ve just been told today that because of flucuations in the market they can no longer offer us the bonus just the extra overtime we’ve worked.

  • Ben

    Emily, sorry to hear about your husband’s bad experience with Marriott. In terms of politics, I’m sure there are republicans that dislike big business and democrats that love it.

  • Emily

    Screw Big Busniess! My husbands experience with Marriott has alomst driven me to become a democrat!

  • Akhtar

    How about lie no 11

    We (the company) have just about brokeven, therefore there will be no salary increases (again) this year .

    If it’s a family orientated buisness the that’s because the owners wife,brother,mum, dad,cousin, cat,dog etc got a slice of your salary rise.

  • Obazee

    Wow. I work as a manager and these are really happening. Although, I never look at it from another person’s perspective.

  • Terry

    Yes, the same old chestnut. Have heard many of these excuses and more in the past.

  • `Joy

    This should be required reading for anyone going to work for a large corporation. My husband learned all of these when he became a manager at a fortune 500 company. It took 2 years to learn them all, but he has experienced every one of them. He was forced to leave the company and even though it was a difficult time financially, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to us.

  • Will Enigma

    I once worked for a company that called a meeting to address employee concerns that there was going to be a massive layoff after the holiday season.
    They assured all in attendance that there would be no layoffs “after the holiday season.” They laid everyone off the week before Christmas. A lie of ommission is still a lie

  • Miss Cellania

    Small companies do this, too. In several of my former jobs, the biggest perk was a week’s vacation with pay. Big deal. Every time anyone took a vacation, the rest of the staff had to work 25% more to cover for them, so you earned every bit of that week by the time everyone took one. The company never paid a penny extra for anyone’s vacation.

  • Anonymous

    I previously worked for a large corporation where
    the lies flowed constant.
    I now manage a small business where honesty IS
    the best policy. If more business would excersize a more honest approach with employees, clients and the public as a whole, our work force would be strong as ever. Big business is good if the profits and honesty are distributed properly.

  • icup

    Try not working for a corporation. I work for a university. I make probably 50-75% what my peers in large corporations make BUT, I work 40 hours a week max, while they work 60 *regularly*. I also get 6 weeks of vacation (and get to take it!) AND 2 weeks of sick time per year, a beautiful 9% match to my 5% 401K contribution, and live in a small town where the cost of living and general stress is much much less than in a city.

    A corporate employee may make more money than me, but she’ll probably die earlier from all the stress.

  • Anonymous

    A boss once told me the internet was a phase. It was so hard not to laugh.

  • Bunny

    “I’ll promote you to manager if you get rid of the honesty thing” – Regional manager

  • Paul

    Here in the UK, my bank applies charges that cause me make go over my overdrfat limit and so they charge me for that too , nice one. OK so it would be better to in the black but demands occur from time to time. The real issue I have with banks is this…we live in a complex society where we depend on banks and they know it. They also communciate that they are a ‘service provider’ and imply that they exist to help to you. This is wrong and deliberatley misleading. They are account providers and money lenders… period. They should be prevented in law from portraying themselves as a ‘service’ as this exploits the more gullible members of our society. The banks also deploy sophisticated marketing communications campaigns that use ‘hypnotic language patterns’ & other seductive imagery. (I am a senior academic in a leading UK university that lectures on these things) So forget ‘rational/ economic’ decisions and blaming poor account management by the customer when they deliberately manipulate our emotions to make non rational decisions. What part do the play in the creation of debt problems they should ask!

  • JP

    Companies pay their employees just enough to keep them.

    Employees work just hard enough to not be fired.

    This has been the state of affairs roughly since the pyramids were built.

  • very bitter programmer

    “I don’t know” has been the saying I have heard all 3 years of my short career just out of college.

    I have asked always to go on travel, to take training courses, and to attend conferences. I’ve NEVER been told “no”. Yet it’s now been 2 full years since I last went on any kind of travel – and that was a work trip with 12 hour days put in. I’m definitely bitter along with ya! Gee, in fact today at 5pm I have to be on a telecon with other members of the industry that are all at the conference in Virginia – where once again – I was never told I could or could not go to.

    I’ve given up asking at this point. It’s an 8 to 6 job now.

  • jos

    we are working on it kills me, makes me want to pull out all my hair then move on to theirs… working on, pathetic excuse

  • Steve

    How about an article on lies employees tell their employers??? Like:

    I am working on it.
    I care.
    I was home sick yesterday.
    I am working hard.

  • Ben

    Sorry if I went a little crazy on the cynicism but sometimes you get sick of hearing the same lines over and over again.

    Happy Rock, you’re right, I should probably be more pro-active about these things that frustrate me but lately I just don’t feel like fighting that battle.

    Good point Credit Shack, employees aren’t without fault in the lying arena either.

  • Wisely Sunshine

    I haven’t been work in the corporate world that long, but I kind of know what you talking about.

  • FMF

    Excellent, excellent list!!!

    I especially love “it’s company policy” and “our salaries are competitive.”

  • Art Dinkin

    Did you have a particularly bad day at work?

    I think there is a Dilbert comic just waiting to bust out of there.

  • CreditShack

    Someone sure sounds bitter. 🙂 To be fair, let’s see “10 Lies Employees Tell Their Bosses.”

  • Q at $1 Million to My Name

    Your list really makes me want to retire!

  • Lazy Man and Money

    I think I’ve heard every one of these in the past. It’s made me a little disenchanted with the current system.

  • The Happy Rock

    I used to hold the same venom for the large corporation(140,000+)I work for, but I began to realize that it wasn’t worth. Not is some give and resign yourself to a crappy job, but in a “I can only change what I have control over” way. I can control where I work, how I emotionally respond to situations, and my own actions. When I got to that point, my job satisfaction sky rocketed. I was able to embrace the great qualities of my situations, while actually doing something physically and emotionally about the things that I didn’t like.

    Take for example “money won’t make you happy”. I am paid a good deal under market value, and it is bugged the heck out me for years. I just complained it made me more unhappy. Now, I continue to work within the system to get my salary up, but I truly did realize that my internal rewards are what provide true joy. I chose what was important to me, and leveraged my current situation to best pursue my life’s dreams. I started an MBA($50,000 benefit paid for by work), took some added responsibility to grow my skills and character, not for the company…etc. I was amazed at what a change in attitude, positive self talk, and taking control of my own actions has done for me.

    -The Happy Rock

  • KMC

    From your list, I think my favorite is “The Customer is Always Right.” In my experience, the customer is always an idiot. They don’t know what they need and typically neither does sales. I see the dumbest things come through…


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