Stop Infantilizing the Workplace: Make Sure You Treat Your Employees Like Adults

Every time we experience a minor inconvenience in life, we fantasize about returning to our stress-free childhood days when our biggest struggle, mine at least, was having to open what felt like about two hundred folders just to get to the games section on Windows 95. Being a kid has its undeniable perks; being treated like one, on the contrary, doesn’t feel as good. Remember the multiple occasions when you’d argue with your mom and say, “I’m old enough!” Oh, such good times.

No More Baby Steps

Ian Sohn’s viral post on LinkedIn poked right into a core issue most leaders fail to recognize in today’s business culture – in just a few words the CEO wrote,

“I deeply resent how we’ve infantilized the workplace.”

Business owners and hiring managers spend countless hours and brainpower coming up with strategies to improve employee experience. But how many boxes of company swags, catered lunches, ping pong tables, yoga classes (the list can go on) do we exactly need to improve productivity and loyalty? Nowadays, people are putting more emphasis on intrinsic rewards and less on physical benefits. A global survey of 200,000 workers revealed the top reason for job satisfaction was merely “appreciation for their work”; among them 41% were actually surprised by positive feedback on their performance.

Call Us Basic

Employers, when they hire new people, expect them to be as skilled as they claim to be, and competent with the responsibilities they are made well-aware of when they first applied to the position. Yet, why is it that this trust disappears the moment they’re onboard, and the micromanaging begins like how one would stare at the microwave when the food is clearly in good hands? Could hiring the right-fit prevent control freaks from pulling the strings to begin with? Mature adult professionals don’t need anyone to breathe over them every fifteen minutes to “check-in”. What we want is, frankly, quite basic:

  • Trust and freedom in executing duties
  • Flexible work hours without a traditional clock-in-clock-out system
  • Salaried compensation over hourly wages
  • Recognition and appreciation for their performance
  • Work-life balance especially for parents who need to juggle between their job and their kids

Back to Sohn’s post, in a few examples he made on how he “never needs to know you’ll be in late because of a dentist appointment”, or how he “never needs to know why you’re working from home today because you simply need the silence”, he pointed out a crucial aspect many seem to sympathize with deeply – there’s nothing wrong being a human being.

As cliché as it sounds, treating people the way you want to be treated is surprisingly something many of us let slip from our minds all the time. Ask yourself this one question: if you can’t trust your employees to work efficiently, why bother hiring them in the first place?