How To Handle Difficult Employees

Every employer will have to deal with a difficult employee eventually. Sometimes, a serious conversation is all that’s needed to solve the problem. At other times, you might need to bring in HR. Here are seven types of troublesome employees and what you can do to handle the issues they bring.

The LOAFER: Known for goofing off, the loafer does just enough work to get by, while other employees have to pick up the slack. Unsurprisingly, this can cause resentment. Have a candid conversation, telling the loafer to focus on doing their job, not on wasting time. And reward those who pick up the slack.

The MALCONTENT: The grump in the group, the malcontent can squelch other’s ideas and lower morale with just a few words. Talk with them to discover the cause of their discontent and encourage them to offer potential solutions alongside any complaints they raise.

The MEDDLER: Extremely nosy, the meddler is known to ask personal or rude questions. Worse yet, they’re quick to share what they’ve learned. If your goal is a harmonious workplace, have the difficult conversation. Tell the meddler to focus on their work, not other people’s business.

The NARCISSIST: Desperate to be the center of attention, the narcissist puts their ego above the needs of the company. Assign them to projects where their strengths and skills will shine, while encouraging them to give credit to their hardworking coworkers.

The THIEF: Shady and manipulative, the thief lies and maybe even steals from your company. This makes other employees uneasy and scared. Don’t let your guard down when dealing with the thief. Instead, investigate discreetly. If you have hard evidence they’ve stolen from you, seek legal advice before confronting them.

The VICTIM: Excuses, excuses. With the victim, it’s always someone else’s fault. Counter this behavior by explaining it’s not about assigning blame. You don’t expect perfection, but you do expect people to help solve problems when they arise, not point a finger.

The YELLER: From shrieking laughter to loud chatter, the yeller can distract and annoy others. Sure, they may not realize how disruptive they are, but people need to get work done. Be direct and tactful when you tell them to lower their volume. After all, what you’re asking is reasonable.

You Can’t Wear That! Dealing With An Employee Who Dresses Inappropriately

If you’re a small business owner with staff, at some point you’re going to have to deal with a sticky, employee-related situation. Whether it’s an employee who’s always out sick, staff who look for sneaky ways to abuse benefit privileges or team members being careless on social media, your people may make choices that don’t suit your business—including what they wear to work.

It’s a situation no business owner wants to face, but you and your employees may not be on the same page when it comes to appropriate work attire. As workplace dress codes continue to get more casual across the country, business owners and their staff may struggle to determine what’s acceptable to wear at work and why.

Use these tips to determine how to communicate with staff when an employee dresses inappropriately.

1. Have an answer for ‘Why Can’t I Wear This?’

It’s important that all members of your staff understand why certain clothing items or styles aren’t acceptable in your workplace, and that sometimes it’s about more than just making a good impression. For instance, if you work in an environment with machinery, tools, heavy equipment or other potential dangers, inappropriate clothing may not adequately protect  your workers. Even worse, some clothing, such as wide, loose sleeves, may interfere with equipment and pose a safety hazard.

2. Send out reminders when necessary.

Sometimes, the best way to deal with a minor “wardrobe infraction” is to post a reminder list on the wall in the break room or send out a simple company-wide email reminding your staff of the expected dress code. This subtle reminder may be all that’s required to get the attention of the specific offender, plus any others who may be tempted to stray toward inappropriate clothing choices for work. If this doesn’t work, though, prepare to talk to the staff member in question.

3. Be really specific about acceptable work clothing.

When communicating to your employee about what is and isn’t acceptable attire, be as specific as possible. Explain that what they’re wearing isn’t safe while working at a lathe, for example. Also prepare to clearly explain what’s included in any terminology you use. Instead of saying that your employee should avoid “casual wear,” specify that they should avoid “weekend casual wear” and list the clothing items that are included in this category.

For example, your non-acceptable “weekend” casual wear list could include:

  • Athletic shoes
  • Flip-flops
  • Sweatpants or yoga pants
  • Hats
  • Hoodies and sweatshirts
  • Halter tops
  • Crop-tops (belly-baring shirts)
  • Jeans

And your acceptable “business casual” list could include:

  • Khakis
  • Cotton trousers
  • Skirts
  • Blouses
  • Polo shirts
  • Pullover sweaters
  • Cardigans

The key is to clearly communicate to all your staff what is and isn’t acceptable work attire.

4. Understand the do’s and don’ts for talking about inappropriate clothing.

Before you talk to your employee about his or her clothing choices, review this list of what to do and what to avoid.

Do

  • Make the conversation easier by preparing. Make sure you are well-versed on your company dress code, and more importantly, that your dress code is legally compliant.
  • Choose a private setting to talk to the staff member, so you can address the issue without embarrassing them in front of others.
  • Choose your words carefully. For example, “I’ve noticed your clothing choices, which, though they may be appropriate outside of our office/shop/business, are not in keeping with our dress code. I’d appreciate your cooperation in making some minor changes.”
  • Introduce your meeting as a time clarify your dress code and make sure your employee understands it.
  • Be specific about the problem. For example, “The shoes you’re wearing expose your toes, so they don’t meet the safety requirement of closed-toe shoes in our dress code.”

Don’t

  • Attend alone, especially when speaking with an opposite-sex employee. Bring in another staff member.
  • Make it a personal attack on the  person’s character. This is about the clothing they wear at work, not an attack on their lifestyle, religion or political choices.
  • Use the word “improve.” If you do, it may sound like you’re dealing with a performance issue.

5. Have “The Talk” with your employee.

If an employee wears something inappropriate after you’ve sent out a group email, it’s time to talk specifically to them. Keep in mind the information from tips three and four, and act quickly.

“Don’t delay taking action—even if just verbally and even if you learn of the infraction long after it occurs,” says human resources consultant Linda Michaels. Clearly point out any dress code violations plus how to remedy them.

Discussions about acceptable workplace clothing can be uncomfortable. They require a sensitive and delicate approach. To keep inappropriate clothing at work from becoming an extended issue, the best strategies are to head it off before it even starts and address any wardrobe infractions immediately.

How to Spot and Mitigate Employee Discontent

Every good employer wants to have a workplace where employees feel content and satisfied. While the reality is that it is not going to possible to please everyone all of the time, you may be able to spot discontent and take steps to mitigate it before you lose good employees. By taking a proactive approach to spotting and mitigating discontent, you may improve satisfaction, thereby lowering your turnover rate and possibly increasing productivity.

Signs That Employees Are Not Content

Discontent with a workplace rarely arises suddenly. Usually an employee will gradually become discontent over time because of different experiences within the workplace. You may begin to notice subtle changes, though these changes may not be readily identifiable as discontent at first.

Signs that an employee may be discontent include:

  • Slips in work performance
  • Disinterest in attending company events
  • Distancing from peers, even as it pertains to social situations
  • Bad moods or behavioral changes
  • Coming in late or leaving early
  • Disagreeing with management or creating friction
  • Gossiping about peers or managers

Ways to Address the Problem

If you have spotted signs of discontent, the first course of action should be to talk to the employee that seems to be discontent. In some cases, the discontent may actually stem from personal issues at home and have nothing to do with the workplace. In many cases, however, the employee is upset about a work situation.

Open Up Communication Lines

During the initial conversation about discontent, the employee may clam up due to nervousness or other emotions. It is important to let the employee know that they can come to you to discuss anything that they may be upset with in the future. Opening up the communication lines in this way –for all of the employees – may help to address discontent before it gets a foothold.

Really Listen and Respond to Employee Concerns

Hearing employees out is only half the battle, really listening and taking action based on those concerns is what will actually help to mitigate the discontent. While it may not be possible or sensible to make big changes based on everything that employees complain about, just taking the time to listen and explain why certain things must stay the way they are can help employees to feel more content.

Admit Mistakes and Move Forward

Sometimes employees are discontent because of the actions of a manager or employer. If this is the case, simply admitting the mistake or acknowledging the situation and working to move forward may assuage the discontent. Actions may need to be taken to prevent the same incident from occurring in the future, but admitting the mistake can go a long way toward making an employee feel valued.

Maintaining Contentment

After you have spotted and worked to mitigate discontent, the work is not done. It is important to use the information learned in order to improve the way that employees feel about the company and to prevent future discontent. Complimenting employee performance and checking in with employees to make sure that they feel valued may also help to prevent future stirrings of discontent.

7 Exit Interview Questions That May Help Prevent Your Next Vacancy

An exit interview is a prime opportunity for you to learn what your company could do better. Employees that already have at least one foot out the door are often more likely to be open and honest with you, as they have less at stake and aren’t looking to score brownie points. The following questions go above and beyond the standard “what did/didn’t you like about your job” and really get to the heart of what you can do better for your employees.

1. Why did you begin looking for a new job?

There is often one specific instance that motivated an employee to hit the job ads and start searching for a new place of employment. Encourage honesty in this answer, because the drive is often a disagreement with management. Whether it was a day with limited staff, a short-fused coworker, or a policy that didn’t click, the answers can all reveal how you can help prevent your next vacancy.

2. Did you feel that you were adequately recognized for your achievements?

Recognition isn’t the only important factor, but can go a long way in making an employee feel valued. If an employee that’s leaving answers “no,” find out what type of recognition they would have been satisfied with and why they feel the current system is inadequate.

3. Were you sufficiently trained for your role?

A large number of employees cite “insufficient training” as a reason for leaving a place of employment. There may be training gaps that you don’t notice that can be highlighted in an exit interview. Find out how training can be improved to more sufficiently prepare future employees.

4. Did you feel comfortable talking to your manager?

If there is a problem with the manager, an employee may feel trapped and unable to resolve their issue. In some cases, it seems like the easiest scenario is to quit. While this isn’t the only reason for leaving, too many employees cite problems with management for you to ignore this question during an exit interview.

5. Were your work goals and assignments reasonable and well communicated?

Overwhelmed employees aren’t happy or satisfied, neither are employees that feel that expectations aren’t being communicated. Identify whether employees feel goals are clear and reasonable so that you can make adjustments if necessary.

6. What would have influenced you to stay here?

While you won’t be able to accommodate every employee and convince them to stay, you may get an idea of what could be done better to reduce turnover by asking this question. If the employee is leaving to pursue a career in a completely different industry or type of company, their answers may not be completely applicable, but could still provide some insight. If their answers aren’t far fetched at all, you may just be able to win them back in the future.

7. Did you feel that the company culture was the right fit for you?

Company culture is incredibly important to employees’ daily life, but difficult to alter or nail down. It can be even more elusive for managers, as employees may alter their behavior when manager eyes are watching. An employee that is leaving is the perfect person to give you the inside scoop on the true culture that may be hiding.

Why should you improve your employee onboarding program?

Employee onboarding is a very method used in talent acquisition.
If done right, employee onboarding process can easily become your secret weapon for hiring and retaining talent.

A successful employee onboarding program ensures that your best candidate actually shows up on their first day at the new job.

This is because a successful employee onboarding process starts at the moment your best candidate accepts your offer.
If you don’t engage you best candidates until their start date, they might accept a better offer or a counteroffer from their current employer.

It also helps to improve retention, engagement, satisfaction, and productivity of your new employees.

According to the Society For Human Resources Management (SHRM):

  • 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.
  • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new-hire productivity.
  • 54% of companies with onboarding programs reported higher employee engagement.

3 best employee onboarding tips

Here are the best 3 tips that will help get the most out of your onboarding program:

Tip #1: Plan and organize 

If you want to maximize the power of your onboarding process, you need to carefully structure it. To learn how, check out our step-by-step Guide on how to successfully onboard new employees.

Keep in mind that:

  1. A successful onboarding is a process
    A successful employee onboarding is not an event that takes place on your new employee’s first day at the office. It is a continuous process that starts at the moment your best candidate accepts your job offer.
  2. A successful onboarding is people oriented
    A successful employee onboarding is not focused on tasks, but on people.
    The human touch drives onboarding success.  The secret of great onboarding is the fact that it makes your new employees feel welcomed and integrated into your company culture from the day one!

Tip #2: Automate 

Automating your employee onboarding process will help you save time and your nerves. There are many different employee onboarding tools you can use to easily automate your onboarding process.

There are 3 main types of employee onboarding tools:

  1. Checklists: Checklists are the most simple and straightforward tool that can help you onboard new employees.
  2. Specialized tools: Specialized employee onboarding tools are tools created for the sole purpose of improving the employee onboarding process.
  3. Integrated tools: Integrated tools are comprehensive, all-in-one tools that offer solutions for your whole HR management process, including payroll, benefits, time and attendance, etc.

Tip#3: Be creative 

To make your new employees’ onboarding experience truly unique, you need to get creative! Luckily for you, we compiled the best and the most innovative employee onboarding ideas and examples from experts to inspire you!

Here are 3 simple, but creative employee onboarding ideas you can easily implement:

  1. Welcome GIF or video: Gather your team and create a welcome video for your new employee!
    If your employees shy away from a camera or you don’t have enough time on your hands, go with the quicker version – create a welcome GIF!
  2. Decorate your new employee’s desk: Decorate your new employee’s desk with some balloons, welcome sign and maybe even some cake! You can also pack your company swag (such as branded notebook, pens, T-shirt, water bottle, etc.) as a present!
  3. 100th-day party: Throwing a 100 day on the job party for your employees is a great opportunity to shower them with some attention and remind them how much you are happy to have them joined your company.
Top 10 Don’ts When You Fire an Employee

Firing an employee is stressful for all parties—not just for the employee losing a job. No matter how well you’ve communicated about performance problems with the employee, almost no one believes that they will actually get fired. With cause, too. The average employer waits too long to fire a non-performing employee much of the time.

So, employees convince themselves that they won’t get fired: they think that you like them; they think that you know that they are a nice person, or you recognize that they’ve been trying hard. In fact, you may believe and think all of these things. But, none of your feelings matter when the employee is not performing his job.

Firing an employee may take you awhile—usually much longer than the circumstances merit. Because you are kind, caring, and tend to give employees another chance. But, these are the top 10 things you do not want to do when you do decide to fire an employee.

Don’t Fire an Employee Unless You Are Meeting Face-to-Face

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Do not fire an employee using any electronic method—no emails, IMs, voicemails, or phone calls. Even a letter is inappropriate when you fire an employee.

When you fire an employee give them the courtesy that you would extend to any human being. They deserve a face-to-face meeting when you fire an employee. Nothing else works.

The fired employee will remember and your other employees who remain have even longer memories. And, no, during this time of social media dominance, don’t believe for a minute that the circumstances of the firing will remain secret.

You will have created a scenario in which your remaining employees are afraid to trust you. Or worse, they trust that you may harm them, too.

Don’t Fire an Employee Without Warning

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Nothing makes an employee angrier than feeling blindsided when fired. Unless an immediate, egregious act occurs, the employee should experience coaching and performance feedback over time. Before you fire an employee, try to determine what is causing the employee to fail.

If you decide the employee is able to improve her performance, provide whatever assistance is needed to encourage and support the employee. Document each step in the improvement process so that the employee has a record of what is happening at each step. The employer is also protecting its own interests in the event of a lawsuit over the termination.

If you are confident that the employee can improve, and the employee’s role allows, a performance improvement plan (PIP) may show the employee specific, measurable improvement requirements. (A PIP is difficult, if not impossible, with a manager or HR staff, once you have lost confidence in their performance.)

Do not, however, use a PIP unless you are confident that the employee can improve. The agonizing process of meeting weekly to chart no progress is horrible for the employee, the manager, and the HR rep, too.

The actual termination—while almost always somewhat of a surprise—should not come with no warning.

Don’t Fire an Employee Without a Witness

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Especially in the US, anyone can sue anybody, at any time, for any reason. In employment termination cases, the employee has to find a lawyer who believes he can win the case and thus, collect his fee. The best practice is to include a second employee in the meeting when you fire an employee.

This gives you an individual who hears and participates in the employment termination in addition to the manager. This person can also help pick up the slack if the hiring manager runs out of words or is unsure of what to say or do next.

This witness is often the Human Resources staff person. The HR person has more experience than the average manager, in firing employees, so can also help keep the discussion on track and moving to completion.

The HR person can also ensure that employees are treated fairly, equally, and with professionalism across departments and individual managers. This limits your liability when you fire an employee.

Don’t Supply Lengthy Rationale and Examples for Why You Are Firing the Employee

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If you have coached and documented an employee’s performance over time and provided frequent feedback, there is no point in rehashing your dissatisfaction when you fire the employee. It accomplishes nothing and is cruel.

Yet, every employee will ask you why. So, have an answer prepared that is honest and correctly summarizes the situation without detail or placing blame.

You want the employee to maintain her dignity during an employment termination. So, you might say, “We’ve already discussed your performance issues. We are terminating your employment because your performance does not meet the standards we expect from this position.

“We wish you well in your future endeavors and trust that you will locate a position that is a better fit for you. You have many talents and we are confident that you will locate a position that can take advantage of them.”

Or you can simply remind the employee that you have discussed issues with him or her over time, and leave it at that.

The more detailed you become, the less able you will be to use any of the information you discover following the employment termination in a subsequent lawsuit. And, as an employer, you will always find out additional information.

For example, think about a terminated HR staff person who had months of new employee paperwork in her drawer. The employees had not been enrolled in healthcare insurance.

In another example, a marketing employee had the entire bookkeeping for her bar which she operated in the evenings on her company-owned computer. (The employer was kind and gave her a copy of her bookkeeping which they didn’t need to do.)

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