Why Employees Feel Like A Burden

by  Leo Hamblin  |  Workplace Issues
Why Employees Feel Like A Burden

Why is payroll considered an expense, a liability? I would like to know who decided, way back in the dark ages, that payroll was to be placed in the expense side of a financial report.

This fundamentally flawed perspective has had a damaging effect on our workforce since time began. Payroll is also considered a liability and a burden.

It may make sense in order to count beans, but it makes no sense when you must get work done through other people. The current perspective of our American workforce is fundamentally erroneous.

In order to lead, action is required. The actions a leader takes are based on their beliefs. If you believe your employees are an expense, you will treat them like an expense and they will feel like an expense, a burden and a necessary evil.

If they feel like a burden, how will you get them to outproduce your competition? How will you get them to innovate? How will you get them to tackle the next big change in the industry and stay ahead of the competition? Demotivated employees only do enough not to get fired.

Your leadership may be hog-tied from the beginning if you come out of the gates believing your employees are an expense or a burden. Attitude reflects leadership. Employees don’t follow words or commands, they follow your actions.

To be an exceptional leader requires extraordinary leadership perspectives that produce actions that people want to follow. I suggest removing this practice of accounting for payroll. It should never have been placed in the expense or liability section of any report. Instead, I recommend placing it in the asset column.

Payroll is an investment, not an expense. Change your perspective on payroll, change your perspective on your employees. Begin seeing them as an investment, an asset, something to vest yourself in and receive a return. The next question should be, what is my return on my investment? You invest a lot of money in payroll; what is your return?

As a leader, when you begin to see your employees as an asset, your actions toward them will change, and their attitude will reflect you. They will begin to feel like an asset and begin to innovate and produce more.

Now, this is being discussed as a simple concept, and it really is that simple. But know it takes time and a commitment from management to build. Most employees, according to Gallup, are unhappy at work, over 70%. It’s because most don’t feel appreciated. The number one reason people leave work is because of bad management, and the belief that management doesn’t care.

I believe it’s because management is unaware of the implications of their actions. In order to invest in an employee, management must measure the skill set of an employee and know what makes them fulfilled at work. Perhaps they need to be moved to a different department to get the most out of them. Maybe they need more training, better tools and control of their environment if possible.

Think of a farmer who plants corn. First the ground is tilled and fertilized then the seeds are planted. Next, the farmer waters the corn then sprays for weeds and bugs.

The farmer is constantly tending to the corn to help it grow and produce the maximum amount of ears per stock. Never do you see the farmer yelling at the corn, or telling the corn to grow anyway in spite of the fact that he could not water it today. No, the farmer feeds and protects the corn so the corn may grow.

Employees know they are valued when they get the best training, are given great tools to do their job and are protected so they may excel.

If you want great employees who produce great results, it starts with leadership. They will reflect you as the leader. Know your leadership perspectives and the results they create in your employees. Keep it simple and know that managers are better at demotivating than motivating.

Editor’s Note: We invite you to check out Leo’s new book, Attitude Reflects Leadership, to delve deeper into his thoughts on leadership.

Have you ever felt like a burden to an employer? How did you change the situation?
Photo Credit: Fotolia alphaspirit

About The Author

Articles By leo-hamblin
I grew up avoiding English. Once I became a manager, my viewpoint changed. Now, to my surprise, I’ve written a book (Attitude Reflects Leadership)!

What People Are Saying

Margy Kerr-Jarrett  |  02 Sep 2015  |  Reply

I loved this post, Leo! I did once have an employer who would always grunt and groan when doing payroll, as if I should feel guilty about getting paid! This made the entire work environment sour, as I always felt like I “owed” something to my employer (besides a 40-hour workweek!).

I really like how you focus here on how an employee is an investment, not just part of a money exchange. Thank Gd I don’t have that problem anymore, now that I work for Weaving Influence :)

Welcome to our group!

Leo Hamblin  |  04 Sep 2015  |  Reply

Great point! I’ve found it common for bosses to make you feel they are doing you a favor by paying you money for the work you’ve done, when that was the deal when they hired you. It should be a mutually beneficial exchange, both happy.

The reason they hired you was to get work done, and the reason you produced results was to receive money. It’s so blatantly obvious, it’s shocking that it must be pointed out.

Thank you for your comment Margy. I’m excited about being a part of this group!

Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen)  |  02 Sep 2015  |  Reply

Hi Leo, welcome to the Lead Change Community. I loved the visual of the farmer “yelling at the corn.” I’ve definitely been in environments like that!

Leo Hamblin  |  04 Sep 2015  |  Reply

I’m glad you enjoyed the farmer analogy, I try to keep these leadership perspectives simple for everyone to understand. I explain in a little more detail in my book about the farmer and his corn. Thinking about the contrast between the calm farmer and the yelling boss makes me laugh. I believe the farmer would be amused if someone suggested he would produce more corn per stock, by neglecting and yelling at his corn. :)

Thank you Paula!

Mary C. Schaefer  |  02 Sep 2015  |  Reply

You are speaking my language, Leo!

Leo Hamblin  |  04 Sep 2015  |  Reply

Thank you Mary!

John E. Smith  |  02 Sep 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Leo – interesting post.

Like others commenting. I can easily endorse your main point that money spent on employees should be considered an investment … and money spent wisely on those employees makes a very good investment:)

Looking forward to reading your book, based on this little taste of your style.


Leo Hamblin  |  04 Sep 2015  |  Reply

I agree, “money spent wisely” on employees. Once the leader changes their perspective that an employee is an asset, an investment their actions should change. One of the first, as a manager, should be to begin measuring the input and output of the employee. Investing time, money, training, tools and assessing their skill-set in order to place them in the right spot to get the most out of them.

I’ve found people are happiest when they are part of a great team, have the best tools, are doing something they enjoy and being highly productive.

Thank you John!

Paul LaRue  |  03 Sep 2015  |  Reply

Leo, I appreciate your post and how you’ve cut to the quick here. Many organizations don’t think of, as Mary Schaefer puts it, their resources as being “human”, but more of a commodity to be leveraged. When an attitude like that persists, deterioration and disengagement ensue.

I agree, payroll is an investment, and so is training and developing your people. Shortchange this and you’ll shortchange the water and food that the corn in the field need to grow. It’s amazing to see leadership blame staff for issues that the leadership caused by restricting the very resources the staff needs.

Great post Leo, and welcome to Lead Change!


Leo Hamblin  |  04 Sep 2015  |  Reply

It always amuses me to hear management complain about problems they created by their attitudes and policies. Yet they rarely come to the conclusion that the solution would be to change their perspectives that drive their actions.

Thank you Paul, this is going to be fun to be a part of Lead Change!

jane  |  08 Sep 2015  |  Reply

I really liked this Leo. I have to admit that even though I have worked in about 30 places in my lifetime, I never thought about payroll and burden in the same sentence. You make some good points about the impact leadership has on the organization. I like the term investment that you mentioned. When we spend, it’s gone. When we invest, it grows.

Join The Conversation