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Bob: Looks like you’ve been missing quite a bit of work lately.
Peter Gibbons: Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve been MISSING it, Bob.

Office Space became a cult classic because of the absurdity we deal with in our real-life workplaces.

The movie shows an employee’s view of a corporate culture that sucks.

Clueless management that can’t see that employees are disengaged and miserable. That forgets to let Milton know he was laid off 5 years ago.

Ridiculous processes and TPS reports.

Redundant organizational structures with 8 managers who come by your desk every time you make a mistake.

And meaningless rewards.

Bill Lumbergh: Oh, and remember. Next Friday… is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.

The important thing is…

You are not clueless.

You are not Bill Lumbergh. Or one of the two Bobs.

Build a great company, a great team, a great workplace.

Pay attention to what your employee’s actions are telling you.

Watch for these 7 warning signs that you have an employee on the way out.

Beginning to disengage. Totally checked out. Or ready to quit.

Address the issues. Give them training. Support. Resources.

Set your employees up to succeed if you want them to stay.


Let’s just talk about what you can observe with your eyes and ears – nothing complex or fancy – just watch and listen.

  1. Absenteeism: Employees come in late or not at all. Miss deadlines. Call in sick more often.
  2. No Vacations: The opposite of our first issue. Employees who feel unable to take vacation days or are unwilling to take time off. They could be headed for burnout. Or saving up their days to use after they give notice.
  3. Cannot Relax: Employees won’t use that shiny new breakroom. No one uses that ping pong table or arcade game. No one dares spend time using company perks because they feel they would get in trouble for taking a moment away from their desk.
  4. Hoarding Office Supplies: Employees do not feel like they will be given the tools they need, so they hoard them. They become possessive to the point of creating tension. A small act that could signal a bigger problem brewing.
  5. Refusing to Use Shared Drives: Employees who won’t post their files to the shared drive or team cloud drive. Another seemingly small issue that could indicate a larger issue. May be a training issue but could indicate trust issues among team members. Hoarding information. Deleting each other’s files. Taking credit for someone else’s work. Or they may also be getting their files in order to take with them when they leave.
  6. Always on Mute: In conference calls, the employee keeps the mute button on. This also happens in face-to-face meetings. They do not engage in conversation or give feedback. Are they disengaged or perhaps being invited to meetings that are wastes of time. Or have they been yelled at or confronted during previous attempts to give input and now they have shut down.
  7. Not Prepared for Meetings: Employees who no longer come to a meeting with a pen and paper – or an iPad or laptop if that is accepted in your workplace. They used to be prepared, but now they come empty-handed. Are they disengaged from the activity completely OR simply unclear about their roles and responsibilities. Disengaged = checked out = may be on the way out.

That brings us to today’s workwork.

Complete Your Workwork:

  1. For the next week, I want you observe your employees and take notes.
  2. What warning signs do you see?
  3. Are the issues isolated to a person, a group. Are they widespread?

You need to determine the extent of the issue, so you can begin to formulate a course correction.

Do not ignore these issues.

If you know about these issues and choose not to deal with them, then you are a part of the problem.

Your superstar employees will not stick around long-term in a team that ignores (and therefore rewards) problem employees.

You are not just the boss. You should be an ally to your team.

Remove roadblocks. Provide support. Be an example.

Extra credit: Your workplace is unique. Tell us what warning signs YOU see that signal potential problems with an employee?


I can’t wait to hear what you found out in the comments below.


Office Space — with the real Michael Bolton — from Funny Or Die

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Play episode 007 of Create Your Culture below: