How (not) to improve employee morale

Megan Nicolai

According to the De Moines Register, a “boss from hell” in Bettendorf, Iowa is taking heat for encouraging his employees to bet on who he’d fire next.

Employees at QC Mart, a local chain of convenience stores in Bettendorf, received an email from William Ernst, the owner of the chain, encouraging them to participate in the contest. The winner was promised $10 for a correct guess.

“This guy was the boss from hell,” Misty Shelsky, a former QC Mart employee, said. “He treated pretty much all of us like dirt.”

A state judge has called the action “egregious and deplorable” and sided with the workers, one of whom was rewarded unemployment benefits.

Check out the memo:

“New Contest – Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!

“To win our game, write on a piece of paper the name of the next cashier you believe will be fired. Write their name [the person who will be fired], today’s date, today’s time, and your name. Seal it in an envelope and give it to the manager to put in my envelope.

“Here’s how the game will work: We are doubling our secret-shopper efforts, and your store will be visited during the day and at night several times a week. Secret shoppers will be looking for cashiers wearing a hat, talking on a cell phone, not wearing a QC Mart shirt, having someone hanging around/behind the counter, and/or a personal car parked by the pumps after 7 p.m., among other things.

“If the name in your envelope has the right answer, you will win $10 CASH. Only one winner per firing unless there are multiple right answers with the exact same name, date, and time. Once we fire the person, we will open all the envelopes, award the prize, and start the contest again.

“And no fair picking Mike Miller from (the Rockingham Road store). He was fired at around 11:30 a.m. today for wearing a hat and talking on his cell phone. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!”