Failing to meet your sales goals in China almost inevitably leads to some amount of punishment. Usually, this results in some sort of financial penalty or not receiving a bonus. To be fair, that is true for many countries around the world. However, 2016 highlighted the levels Chinese businesses go to publicly punish, or shame, employees for their failures. I hope that other bosses do not get any ideas like these.
- Alcoholic Worms
Not surprisingly, there is no love lost when you fail to meet your sales target. A company in Hanzhong, China, called Ai Jia, which translates to ‘Home Loving,’ took to the streets in November. With over forty workers gathered in a public square, the manager read off the names of all the employees who failed to meet their quota. Subsequently, he unveiled a large bag full of worms, glasses of liquor, and chopsticks.
While employees looked on with horror, he announced that for every client below the quota, each worker had to place four worms in their cup and drink them. For one pregnant employee, who had missed her sales quota by eight customers, that meant eating 32 worms and drinking Baijiu, the 120-proof liquor in the glasses.
Luckily, for the woman, a fellow employee agreed to eat her 32 worms, along with his own 12, so that she would not expose the baby to hard liquor. She was the only one spared. Nine other employees had to grab heaps of the worms with the chopsticks and drink them down. As terrible as this idea was, at least the manager held himself accountable for failing to meet his quota and consumed sixteen worms.
- Crawling for Cash
Forced crawls have pretty much become the standard method in China for publicly humiliating employees who do not meet their job goals. Two noteworthy cases happened in 2016. In April, twelve well-dressed men and women crawled on the ground outside of a mall in northeastern China. As it turned out, those on their hands and knees were all employees of an upscale clothing boutique in the shopping center located in Baishan.
While a spokesman for the company said that only the manager was forced to crawl 720 feet due to his failure to meet a store quota, his assistant managers ‘volunteered’ to join him in the public humiliation. One wonders about the validity of the company’s claim, as video footage shows one of the executives shouting at everyone to ‘fulfill their commitments.’ That does not sound voluntary to me.
A second crawling incident took place a few weeks ago in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. On this occasion, a bakery owner fell $20,000 below his annual goal. As punishment, he decided to crawl two miles between his stores. Due to his financial shortfall, he was unable to pay his employees any bonus. As he made his way along the snow-covered streets, some of his employees walked behind him. Others joined him on hands and knees. In the end, his employees hugged him when he reached his second bakery.
- Paddling the Company Canoe
Spoiler Alert: You don’t want to work for Shanxi Changzhi Zhangze Agricultural and Commercial Bank. In June, the boss of the entire bank brought up eight members of an account team. The executive from Changzhi declared this team the least productive at the firm. Rather than releasing them, however, he unleashed on them.
As they stood on a stage, dressed in yellow shirts, their colleagues started at them from the audience. Then the manager proceeded to walk behind them, yell at them, and paddle their butts. He went up and down the line four times. In particular, he singled out the female manager on the far right, who nearly collapses in pain after the spankings. Throughout the ordeal, the crowd sat in stunned silence.
Officially, Article 88 of China’s Labor Law prohibits public humiliations of employees. However, these examples show that there’s still some work to do with actually enforcing the statute.