How to Avoid Public Bashing by your Employees

Posted on November 30, 2011.

The recent Joey DeFrancesco you tube video that went viral (almost 3 million hits) showcases an employee of theProvidence Renaissance hotel very publicly quitting with his band in tow.  There have been several articles about what was right or wrong about what Joey did. Would it ruin his career? Was it really justified? What about the hotel’s response?  But the reality is that none of this really matters. What matters is that in minutes, Joey Defrancesco damaged a brand that the company spent years and millions building.

What should be even more concerning to employers, is the recent launch of his own website,, where he invites other hospitality workers to share their stories.  And in less than two weeks of its launch, there are over 30 comments and published stories, several asking him to open the site up to companies outside the hospitality industry.

Companies need to start paying attention to how their employees are being treated. If the success of Joey’s viral video is any indication, the trend for very public and brand damaging resignations has just begun. How can you avoid this?

• Stop taking your staff for granted. Seems obvious but in the current high unemployment, recessionary environment, I have heard more than one manager and executive say people should be happy they have a job. Once this phrase leaves your lips you have stopped appreciating your employees. Their effort and hard work go unnoticed as you remind them of how lucky they are to be employed.

• Establish and communicate a Code of Conduct.  Every company should have a basic set of rules and behaviors that are acceptable. Make sure everyone understands the consequences for violating the Code, including your senior executives.  What I’ve seen happen too often is if one executive is allowed to skirt the rules because of their position, the rules are viewed as window dressing only.  Unethical behaviors left unchecked will open you up not just for brand bashing, but a lawsuit.

• Make fairness one of your corporate values.  Many companies like to throw around the word meritocracy, but few actually establish fairness as a guiding principle.  So in the end, many of the people who benefit from the “meritocracy” are people that have been shown favoritism from the beginning. Wouldn’t establishing a value around fair and equitable treatment mean a lot more than creating a value around rewards?

• Let people know where they stand. Everyone deserves feedback on their performance.  Going years without any sense of how you’re performing builds resentment. Establish an environment where feedback is not threatening but welcomed. At a minimum, sit down with your employees at least twice a year to create a performance dialogue. Always start with what they do well and make sure there are no surprises.

With cell phone cameras and you tube videos so ubiquitous, companies are on high alert. But the best way to avoid public bashing and very public resignation is by creating an environment where you don’t have to worry about such things.