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13 Manipulation Tactics by Employers

Some employers have taken bullying, manipulation to a new level. to get you to work harder, longer, for less pay. When this doesn’t work to force you to resign, or justify a dismissal.

13 Manipulation Tactics by Employers

In the last 20 years the culture in workplaces has generally improved. Sexual harassment has been exposed, wage theft issues are pursued vigorously be the Workplace Ombudsman. Most employees know they have access to the unfair dismissal regime and the employer knows this. Also the excising of workplace rights via a general protections application is increasing. Migrants and overseas workers know they have access to Australian employment laws. However some employers look for new ways to covertly manage their work force. 13 Manipulation Tactics by Employers need to be exposed, lets read on.

However despite the improvements in workplace practices, capitalism being what it is, employers still drive for greater profits, or to stem losses. In order to keep the shareholders happy has created a cleaver, in my view, a more sinister employer who develops the ability to manipulate the workforce. This in recent times has seen the introduction of anti bullying legislation as a part response by the government. This has led to an increase an depression amongst employees, to a greater amount of employees who do not want to return to work after the end of pandemic.

This has been written off as the so called work life balance. This is only part of the answer where a percentage don’t want to return because of fear and anxiety, and turn get dismissed.. In my view this has not received the publicly or action that it should. Lets briefly examine what’s going on. To inform you and empower you to take a stand against the rogue employer. There is no doubt Toxic workplaces are on the increase.

Bullied over a performance plan. Budgets and KPI’s keep changing. The fear of dismissal, or discipline is a daily, or weekly event. Victimisation and how to lodge a claim is important reading.

Moving goalpost

When the criteria shift which have to be met to satisfy employer. This happens with budgets, KPI’s the employer continually increases what you have to achieve. This can be done to get higher profits from your hard work. Or to avoid paying commissions or bonuses because you still haven’t met your (new) goals. Some employers do this then sack or dismiss you on the basis you failed to meet targets. Then they get to keep the commissions.


When extreme terms are used to accuse an employee of certain behaviour. General abuse, general accusations. The terms can be more extreme or flippant because its non specific, the employer doesn’t have to produce any evidence or examples. Name calling, false claims of failed performance, nothing specific that the employer can be accountable for. Its to maintain control, also so the employee doesn’t push back. This happens a lot in the probation periods, see what you will put up with, before the employer decides to keep you or not.

Changing the subject

When a employer deflects / changes the subject when behaviour is addressed. Allegations are made by the employer when you have the answer, they cleverly change to some other point or the next allegation. Employers test you, bully you, then depending how you react, then move on. Employers want to control the conversation, not take a step back wards or concede a point. The easiest way is to change the subject. Politicians are masters at this.


When a employer makes the employee doubt their understanding of reality. The goal is that everything that goes wrong on the workplace is the employees fault. The employee will in turn work harder, longer, ask for less. In other words the employer gets a better bang for their buck.


When indirectly negative feelings are expressed instead of talking about it. The goal is the employee never knows where they stand. The employee is always on edge, never sure of themselves. They will try harder to please the employer. An i going to be dismissed?, not dismissed?

Boss-thinks-they-are-always-right.-They- are-masters-of-their-workplace.
Boss thinks they are always right. They are masters of their workplace. They don’t go home at night to watch Netflix, but to think what they can do the next day to make more money at the employers expense. What can employers insist on in the workplace can also be a bullying tactic.

Lying / denial

When an employer is lying to cover up truth they can manipulate feelings. A classic is the employer telling you they have no money to pay you, cannot pay over time. “We are losing money, can you help us out?” But still have that overseas holiday where they buy you a duty free gift (usually a copy hand bag or watch) to substitute for the thousands in free overtime you have worked.

Targeting insecurity

When the employer zoom in on a employees insecurities making them feel bad. Threatening you with dismissal, knowing you have kids, rent and will put up with the fear and work harder, longer. The employees lacks qualifications, is an older workers, knowing your options are limited.


When a employer ignores the employee making it impossible to connect properly. This is order for you to work harder, so to please the employer so they will like you, talk to you. Get you striving to be part of the gang, or inner circle. All human beings strive for acceptance. Employers take advantage of this.


When a employer gangs up with other employees to manipulate a particular employee. The employer wants a mob rule situation, get your fellow employees to do their dirty work. Co workers telling you you might be dismissed, made redundant. They get perverse pleasure from all this. The thinking by these employees is “better you than me”.

Evoking fear

When an employer plays on an employees fear to get what they want. The implied threat of dismissal, so you work after hours, not ask for that pay rise. Everybody knows these days you cannot work for below award wages. However the employer can bully you to work for below market rates as can example. Another example of this is the fear of being relocated, or being demoted.


When a employer dismisses an as result of stereotyping (like gender). This is clearly discriminatory. Certain migrant groups are targeted with the employer know they come from countries where no body complains or you simply disappear. Other groups are single mothers in desperate need of income, younger employees just eager to please and will put up with abuse. Older workers or casual workers with the fear of no more work.

Emotional abuse

When a employer misuses emotional connection to manipulate other employees. The employer makes out like his your friend to get you to work harder, longer. To complete task outside your employment contract. Then turns on you or dismisses you with it is convenient for them.

Physical-intimation-is-a-thing-of-the- past
Physical intimation is a thing of the past. Its now all about mental abuse, manipulation in the workplace. To permanently keep you on edge, to make you doubt yourself.

Reducing your self respect

A deliberate campaign to humiliate, demean an employee to the point they feel worthless. Therefore to be easily controlled and bullied. The employer takes away your self respect. Its almost a form of domestic violence. The more your abused the more you try to please. You develop the thinking it must be your fault.

Conclusion to 13 Manipulation Tactics by Employers

I hope this article has been of some benefit to you. Not all employers are bad. In fact most employers do the right thing by their employees. However employees don’t ring us because they are having a good day out, its because they are not. This is our world. The article on 13 manipulation tactics is to empower you, for you to stand up for yourself, understand you have rights. The 13 points above that you are subjected to, you are not alone. Many employees ring us to complain and don’t do anything about the abuse, the bullying, the false allegations or accusations. That’s up you you to decide, what to do next. We are here to advise, to help.

AWNA is amongst Australia’s leading commentator’s on workplace matters. We are not lawyers, nor do we want to be. We are proud of our staff and the outcomes they get for our clients. All matters relating to Fair work Commission, workers rights, employee rights, casual workers rights, workplace investigations, give us a call.

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