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Motivational posters for a down economy

September 14th, 2010 · 79 comments

In a recession, how companies harness the power of positive thinking can get a little twisted.

In Roanoke, Virginia, for example, Seth says “an uptight lady I used to work with — who almost certainly used to be a hall monitor — wrote this motivational quote in the windowless trailer I shared with about 20 coworkers and a vindictive, micromanaging boss.”

 Seth says

When he eventually got laid off,  Seth says, the company tried to get him to interview for a different position —  but those inspiring words on the whiteboard set him straight. “I decided that imagining myself without a paycheck was not enough to keep me coming back to that acre of hell.”

Elsewhere in Roanoke, meanwhile, kitchen staff at this restaurant/bar are greeted by these empowering words every time they trudge through the doors.

To the staff: if you cannot do your job, please feel free to find another one.

And of course, nothing can top this classic:


related: “Popcorn Thursday,” and 100o other ways to reward employees besides giving raises.

FILED UNDER: fired · most popular notes of 2010 · now that's management · office · Virginia · whiteboard

79 responses so far ↓

  • #1   anglophile bang

    Just a hint to employers: if you need to have a professional sign made up to threaten your staff into doing their jobs, your management sucks.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm   rating: 121  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   pony girl

      I would immediately start looking for another job if I went to work and saw any signs like those.

      Of course, I would totally post the signs here, first.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm   rating: 46  small thumbs up

    • #1.2   pylgrim

      If by “professional” you mean, “poorly made and improperly aligned banner.” I’d feel free to find a new job as a graphic designer so I could take the business of whomever made it.

      Sep 16, 2010 at 12:19 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #2   nome

    What is it with the pink and blue pattern filling in all the self-contained holes in the font? I swear I’ve seen it before. Is it an actual thing done professionally, or at least in some kind of template? Because I’m imagining the writer of that sign looking at it and thinking “You know, that’s a little harsh. Hey, sweetie? Why don’t you make this pretty?” and handing it to her/his thirteen-year old daughter.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm   rating: 28  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   anglophile bang

      That’s just to show they mean it for both the boys and the girls.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm   rating: 33  small thumbs up

    • #2.2   Jonathan

      It’s not like they have anything better to do than color and bitch. Running one’s business is a major faux pas.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 10:50 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

    • #2.3   Noelegy

      Looks like two shades of highlighter marker to me.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #3   anglophile bang

    So, I guess Unknown didn’t really make a name for themselves on the motivational speaking circuit?

    Sep 14, 2010 at 5:11 pm   rating: 29  small thumbs up

  • #4   Not That Nicole The Other Nicole

    I am not going to make myself popular here, but I can kind of feel the pain on the last two (but not the first one. fuck you). I mean, it’s a little over-the-top to hang up a damn *sign* but I’ve worked for four companies and at all four of them most of the workers were lazy slackers. It’s always mildly shocking to find someone who actually has a decent work ethic.

    I was able to write it off for the retail fields for a while, but seriously, I work in an extremely competitive field, for a top company, and even though I only work in the mailroom I cannot comprehend how lazy some of these people (and my higher-ups) are. According to the numbers I can literally do ten times the amount of work both of my peers complete in a day–and that’s post-giving-up-being-a-good-employee-and-deciding-to-spend-an-hour-a-day-on-sites-like-this-one (hyphen).

    So yeah. Maybe if you’ve had such bad luck with previous hires you’re resorting to signs, you need to fire them and get better ones. A little slacking here and there is to be expected. The level of bullshit I witness is a disgrace. If you have any kind of work ethic and you’ve had to pick up the slack of your useless fucking coworkers, you’re probably feeling the same way to some degree.

    Funny thing about asshole bosses, too–some of them are assholes all around and there’s not much to do about that. Some of them are just assholes to you because they’re not stupid and know you’re not doing your job.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 7:11 pm   rating: 33  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   michelle

      Amen Nicole! Totally with you on this one. Some people make it their career to look busy, whereas the rest of us are actually pulling our weight. I think the signage is going too far, if you have a problem don’t be all PA about it, just fire the lazy asses and look for some people who actually do their work.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

    • #4.2   Kay

      If I thought P/A signs worked, mine would read something like:
      “If you ever want a better job, first prove that you can do this one really well consistently, and with a smile on your face.”

      This is because BITD when I was hiring, it never failed that the biggest slackers thought they were above their jobs and destined for better things. I was asked a few times how to go for a promotion by the likes of them and this was always my answer (diplomatically of course). One memorable employee realized she had not yet proved to us that she had any skills or could take any responsibility — she did and continued on to bigger and better things! Others would try out the theory for a week or two. With no promotion in their pocket that very month, they would return to both slacking and wondering what was wrong with management not recognizing their greatness.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 8:37 pm   rating: 14  small thumbs up

    • #4.3   Cara

      Sadly where I work the slackers and screw ups seem to get promoted if they talk a good story. Loudly talk a good story. I can hear one of them in his office now and I am at the other end of the cube farm.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 8:56 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

    • #4.4   eddy

      I think I love you.

      (Don’t tell my wife.)

      Sep 15, 2010 at 10:25 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #4.5   I'm Rick James Bitch

      As an employer for nearly twenty years I have to agree with Nicole. The only way to treat employees is to assume they are trying to get by with as little effort as humanly possible and that they will steal from you at the first opportunity.
      When some employers learn this they get all bitter and put up silly signs. For me it was a relief and we have had fantastic staff ever since I stopped trying to be peoples buddy and developed a zero BS policy. Most people love having a strong structure to work in where they know exactly where the boundaries are.
      People really love working in an environment where others don’t get away with being lazy. If you are working hard it sucks for someone else drawing the same paycheck to be sliding by with minimal effort.
      In a business I have since sold we put satellite tracking in our service vehicles to monitor usage. We told everyone repeatedly the tracking was being done before it happened. To our astonishment every worker was working at job sites for hours beyond what the customers were being billed for. They were arranging cash payments to stop the clock and keep working. We told everyone to stop. Nothing happened – they kept doing it. We literally had to fire everyone and start over. These were people who had all been at my wedding. One guy bugged me to go to church with him constantly. This guy also kept boasting about how fast he was paying off his mortgage!

      Sep 15, 2010 at 11:32 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #5   Nack

    Nah, the signage is good. It’s a nice “Don’t Screw With Me” statement, and it rolls right along with the lazy kinds of employees that it is directed to. We’re talking about passive-aggressive workers, so this is like the voice of God whispering in their ears. I love it. Team “If you have a job, do it.”

    Besides, nothing is passive aggressive if you’re working with teenagers. You have to do something to overcome the angst.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

  • #6   RedDelicious

    Those empowering words were fucking delicious.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 7:47 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   becca

      Since I am new to this site, I was just wondering (I really hope this isn’t a stupid question) what is the whole F-ing delicous saying from? I just want to be in on the joke! :)

      Sep 14, 2010 at 7:52 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #6.2   H for Toy

      Only a little stupid. Check out “Greatest Hits” on the right-hand side of your screen. :)

      Sep 14, 2010 at 8:18 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #6.3   becca

      Thank you! I get it now :)

      Sep 14, 2010 at 8:27 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #6.4   ashmeadow

      I am also curious. Is this joke being used ironically or unironically? Post-ironically? Misused definition of ironic ironically? Is this now in the territory of anyone-who-says-this-phrase-has-pretty-much-outed-themselves-as-desperate-for-attention-and-possibly-friendless unironic irony? Is it time to break out an ironic unitard? Will Mamarilla2 say she hates you? SO MANY QUESTIONS! Please, RedDelicious, assuage my curiousity and tell me your motives!

      Sep 15, 2010 at 12:12 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

    • #6.5   park rose

      ‘rilla might not, but WotV probably will.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 1:20 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #6.6   Canthz_B bang

      My very first comment here was a “fucking delicious”. :oops:

      But, um, that was three years ago, and the bloom has long since left that particular rose.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 2:39 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

    • #6.7   Woman on the Verge bang

      I hate you. (rose is right)

      Sep 15, 2010 at 8:32 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #6.8   GhostWriter bang

      Fucking Delicious seems to follow a sinusoidal pattern of hilarity, in that, as it gets more and more stupid over time, at some point it reaches the very bottom, and actually begins to seem a bit funnier the next time it is said.

      I have always preferred the Unitard for repetitive joking, however, its ability to swing back into hilarity is not nearly as strong as Fucking Delicious. It is sometimes fun to reminisce about the Unitard, but the joke seems old.

      Metaphorically speaking, the Unitard is Milton Berle in a dress, and Fucking Delicious is the Spam skit from Monty Python.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 8:34 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

    • #6.9   Cara

      Oh that spam is…
      quite tasty!
      Well said GW. I think the unitard was funniest when Mishee was wielding it, or maybe welding in it. I am not sure. :grin:

      Sep 15, 2010 at 9:09 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #6.10   Mark bang

      *pines for Mishee*

      Sep 15, 2010 at 9:22 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #7   Courtney

    I worked at a bookstore (that has since closed, wow, what a surprise) where the owner/resident tyrant came in one night just before closing. One of the employees was standing at the counter, doing nothing (there were no customers, and they couldn’t close the registers until closing). He fired her on the spot, assuming I suppose that this would motivate everyone else to look busy in his presence. Half of the staff quit the next day in protest (including the manager and assistant manager).

    Also, I can’t believe someone had a professionally printed banner made up for this message. Writing it on a dry erase board or printing something on your computer is one thing, but a banner? O. M. G.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 9:24 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   MAMARILLA2 bang

      As we had posted on the wall at a restaurant in which I once worked…”If you have time to lean, you have time to clean”. Petty dictator bosses don’t like to pay for idle time.

      Sep 16, 2010 at 7:22 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #7.2   The Elf

      I don’t have time to bleed.

      Sep 16, 2010 at 11:06 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #7.3   Mike

      I don’t own my own business, but I have always thought that if I have an employee who will go a little extra (stay late for a good customer without complaining, for example), then I am not going to get uptight if he or she is not doing anything at some given moment. If the place is clean and there are no customers, phone calls or paperwork needing attention, what is the harm in a bit of slow time?

      We are not machines, so a bit of a break is reasonable here and there.

      My current job often requires that I work late at night to meet certain deadlines. I have to start my work after the rest of the team completes theirs, and I try to be flexible when others need a bit more time. In return, I don’t expect to be hassled when I am away 2 hours to get my driver license renewed…because that is how long it takes, even with an appointment, and there are no Saturday hours any more in cash strapped California.

      Sep 16, 2010 at 11:13 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #8   Pterosaur

    If it weren’t for us, you’d have no fucking heat this winter.

    A Motivational Message From Your Human Resources Dept.

    P.S. Why are you still reading this? GET BACK TO WORK or we’ll sack your ass give your job to a trained terrier.

    His name is Skippy and he works for kibble. Do not fuck with us.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm   rating: 24  small thumbs up

  • #9   Walker, "Tex" (a stranger)

    The wonderful irony is that designing, ordering and hanging that banner was probably done on the company time.

    I would kill for a job like that.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm   rating: 17  small thumbs up

    • #9.1   Pterosaur

      Management spends 95% of its time on the Sign Committee. They spend the other 5% bitching that no one does any work around here.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 8:02 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

  • #10   Madrias

    I’m wasting time in this job because no one will give me any work to do. You insist on giving all the work to the teenagers in hopes that they’ll actually do it, but really, they need a proctologist to put their phones in their behinds before you can make them work. Second, you don’t pay me well enough to get quality work. Third, you don’t pay me well enough to get crappy work. Fourth, your threat is a joke. Fire me and I’ll smear you publicly, after I get a new job working for your competitors.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 11:10 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #10.1   BrookeDiz bang

      Remind me never to hire you, Madrias.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #10.2   I'm Rick James Bitch

      Spoken like a true loser. You are not lazy because of the pay – you’re just lazy.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 11:11 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #11   ISpy

    To the staff:

    If you cannot do your job, please feel free to find another one.

    But before you do, please be sure to sign up for the Mongolia BBQ because some people like the fresh fruit/veggies that you usually bring because they are diabetic. Thx, Sandra

    Sep 14, 2010 at 11:20 pm   rating: 18  small thumbs up

    • #11.1   The Elf

      Ask Casey in human resources for the key to the door so that you can leave. Thx, Sandra.

      Sep 16, 2010 at 11:07 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #12   AnonymousPunchingBag

    My old firm had a banner reading: Row OR get or the boat! They also enjoyed handing out kool-aid during company meetings. Memory Lane!

    Sep 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #12.1   GhostWriter bang

      Did they hold the meetings in Jonestown and serve the Kool-aid out of galvanized tubs?

      Sep 15, 2010 at 8:38 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #13   aaa bang

    Appreciate jobs
    No money, you say? Screw you
    Guys, I’m going home

    Sep 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm   rating: 5  small thumbs up

    • #13.1   GhostWriter bang

      Although it’s not regulation, I’d replace that last line with, “Momma, I’m comin’ home.”

      Sep 15, 2010 at 8:58 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #13.2   park rose bang

      Mama, just killed a man . . .

      Sep 15, 2010 at 11:24 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #13.3   Mo®

      Mama take these guns from me…

      Sep 15, 2010 at 12:15 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #13.4   Noelegy

      Mama were all crazee now.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #13.5   MAMARILLA2 bang

      Mamma mia, here I go again

      Sep 16, 2010 at 2:21 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #13.6   GhostWriter bang

      Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah

      Sep 17, 2010 at 10:06 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #14   Kim

    I had a tee-shirt that said “I’d tell you to go to hell,but I work there, and I don’t want to see you all the time!”

    Sep 15, 2010 at 2:09 am   rating: 13  small thumbs up

  • #15   Canthz_B bang

    There’s a banner posted in my office which reads something like:

    “A goal not met + A good excuse = A goal not met”.

    It was such a relief to see because the pressure to make up a good excuse is now nonexistent.

    Now, about those unrealistic goals set by incompetent managers who cannot do our jobs…

    Sep 15, 2010 at 2:31 am   rating: 17  small thumbs up

    • #15.1   MAMARILLA2 bang

      - Last month I became a quarter-of-a-century man.
      - Oh, that’s beautiful, a quarter-of-a-century.

      -How long have you been in the mail room?
      - Twenty-five years. It’s not easy to get this medal. It takes a combination of skill, diplomacy, and bold caution

      Sep 15, 2010 at 7:00 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #15.2   Mo®

      I realize that I’m the president of this company, the man that’s responsible for everything that goes on here. So, I want to state, right now, that anything that happened is not my fault.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 11:10 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

    • #15.3   H for Toy

      Sometimes I love Mo®

      Sep 15, 2010 at 11:39 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #15.4   Woman on the Verge bang

      I always love Mo. Even when I’m too damned lazy to figure out how to add the registered trademark symbol.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #15.5   Mo®

      This is the secret ingredient: it can’t miss, I’m combining greed with sex™.

      Sep 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #15.6   H for Toy

      I wish I could, Wo. I can only love Mo® when my husband’s at work…

      Sep 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #15.7   MAMARILLA2 bang

      ♫ There is a brotherhood of PAN,
      A benevolent brotherhood of PAN,
      A noble tie that binds
      All human hearts and minds
      Into one brotherhood of PAN.

      Sep 16, 2010 at 2:18 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #16   Canthz_B bang

    To the staff…

    If you cannot do your jobs, feel free to beat the crap out of the people we paid to train you.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 2:44 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

  • #17   Canthz_B bang

    Signs like these were posted at the original Roanoke colony.

    I don’t think they worked very well.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 3:08 am   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #17.1   MAMARILLA2 bang


      Sep 15, 2010 at 6:44 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #18   Bill Lumbergh

    Employees should ask themselves all the time, “Is this good for the company?”

    I’ll get you a copy of the memo.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 8:11 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #19   Woman on the Verge bang

    To better appreciate me as an employee, imagine my foot up your ass.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 8:34 am   rating: 11  small thumbs up

  • #20   GhostWriter bang

    I spent the entire day yestserday imagining myself without a paycheck, and today my boss chewed me out for slacking.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 9:02 am   rating: 23  small thumbs up

  • #21   eddy

    Could almost use that 2nd sign here, since my co-worker barely does a damned thing around here. Of course, that’s assuming he could even read and/or comprehend it, which I doubt. He’s either insanely stupid, vastly under qualified or a bit of both.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 10:20 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #21.1   Limeliberator bang

      I have a co-worker that spends 4 hours on the phone every day learning to do his job (he’s been here for 16 months.) He’s taking drafting classes to move in to another department but he’s completely incompetent. I’m torn. On one hand I don’t want him to get a promotion that he doesn’t deserve and will completely screw up but on the other hand I just want him the hell out of my area..

      Sep 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #22   Noelegy

    This reminds me of my last job, in which we would have a dreadful grocery-store bakery cake with whipped-cream icing once a month to celebrate all of that month’s birthdays, and then our boss would say a few inspirational words, or update us on general news.

    During the only birthday month that I celebrated while at that job, her words basically boiled down to “We can fire any of you at any time.” Gee, thanks, I feel ever so inspired. I think I’ll go work smarter, not harder, now.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #22.1   Mo®

      My favorite inspirational words have been, and this is verbatim, ” your job is your reward. No raises are authorized this year.”
      Hooray I can’t wait to be productive!

      Sep 15, 2010 at 1:23 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #22.2   Mike

      Oh, yeah, my company told us early on there was no raise budget this year. Of course, the little deductions for our share of benefits all went up, so my checks got smaller.

      Sep 16, 2010 at 11:20 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #22.3   Reepicheep-chan

      Once an e-mail with some random “inspirational” sayings was being floated around my father’s place of business, in a code he used to be a manager in. Someone along the way added the following quote, attributed to my father:

      “Hiring you was like losing three good men.”

      Sep 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #23   Glenn Friesen

    Wow. This is a crash course in bad management 101.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #24   Snippy



    Sep 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #25   H for Toy

    I worked at a place that gave out certificates of recognition instead of raises. Every month, a few employees would be recognized for whichever inspirational poster they had been portraying in their work ethic. For example, I was recognized for “Initiative.” I don’t know how true that was, but the certificate certainly didn’t make up for not getting paid for the last 3 weeks I worked there, because the company went bankrupt.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #26   Edwina the Defrocked Nun

    I don’t call it slacking. I call it pacing myself.

    Sep 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #27   EARL HAMSHER

    I would absolutely vandalize that shit as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

    Sep 16, 2010 at 1:05 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up


    “To best appreciate your job, imagine yourself without a paycheck”?

    Whatever. I work numerous overtime hours that I don’t get paid for. I hope whoever wrote that got a decrease in salary.

    Sep 16, 2010 at 10:22 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #28.1   TEENAGEDREAM

      Oh, he got laid off. :X

      Sep 16, 2010 at 10:26 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #29   Motivational Posters for a Down Economy | HRLori

    [...]] Share This entry was posted in HR News. Bookmark the permalink. ← Ex HP CEO Forgoes [...]

    Sep 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #30   JL

    C’mon everybody: “Three cheers for capitalism!”

    Sep 23, 2010 at 10:09 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #30.1   HappyCynic

      Can I give 3 jeers instead ;)

      Sep 23, 2010 at 10:09 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #31   A few clues you might be stuck in soul-sucking job |

    [...] Motivational posters for a down economy [...]

    Jan 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up


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