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.

Does your business struggle to provide incentives to millennials, Gen Zers?
  • Employers say they’re struggling to attract and retain millennial and Gen Z workers, in part because they can’t provide the incentives they believe these demographics want. More than 1,000 senior-level HR professionals responded to a survey by Allegis on the state of millennials and Gen Z in the workforce, and almost half voiced this concern. Most say they believe this failure will negatively impact their company by slowing growth, reducing productivity and increasing hiring costs.
  • What’s keeping them from enticing these generations into the fold? More than 70% believe outmoded work practices, sketchy career paths and limits on advancement, development and mentoring are impacting attrition. Flexible work schedules, wellness programs, fast-track promotions and other perks were identified by 69% of respondents as problematic.
  • Millennials, the study suggests, are looking for more than salary and benefits; diversity and inclusion rank high on their employment wishlist, as does strong corporate social responsibility (CSR). Yet only 12% of businesses believe their D&I programs help attract talent, and only 13% believe CSR does.

AZ HR Hub Insight:

Millennials, the generation that will dominate the workforce at an estimated 75% representation by 2025, comprise 35% of workers in the U.S. today. To attract and retain this demographic, employers may have to do some serious surveying and listening.

Priorities may vary from workplace to workplace, and generational stereotypes can create problems. PwC, for example, saw that its millennials were clamoring for flexibility and leaving when they didn’t get it. It conducted a survey and, naturally, found that “millennials want more flexibility, the opportunity to shift hours — to start their work days later, for example, or put in time at night, if necessary. But so do non-millennials, in equal numbers.”

Allegis’ findings about diversity and CSR may well apply to other generations as well. Studies have found that diverse teams are more innovative, and employer branding — including a persona as a good corporate citizen — can go a long way with employees of all generations.

4 Hiring Challenges Facing Small Business Owners

Hiring professional talent in today’s market can be extremely difficult. Find out why it can be so tough for companies, while also learning how to deal with the stress of finding the right candidates.

For many small business owners, the last few years have been the best of times. As the economy has grown, their businesses have grown. New clients have appeared, and existing clients have increased orders. Growth is exciting.

As companies grow, however, they often need to hire new people for positions that did not previously exist. Suddenly, a function needs to be professionalized. Ten years ago a company could promote a warehouse worker to a shipping supervisor role, but after years of expansion, the business needs a supply chain manager to handle the more complex relationships that stem from a growing company. A decade ago, an office manager could double as a personnel manager at a 25-employee company. With 120 staff members today, that same firm needs at least a professional HR manager, if not a director.

Unless properly managed, these hiring projects could lead to the worst of times. For a business owner, hiring professional talent in today’s market can be problematic. Here are a few reasons why hiring can cause a headache for small businesses, and how to help your business stand out in the hiring process.

It’s a tight market

With a 4 percent unemployment rate, there is a limited pool of unemployed job candidates. Your ideal hire might be working somewhere else and needs a reason to quit their job and work for you. When a promising talent is not looking for work, they need to be identified and attracted to your company.

Employers have built stronger cultures

Since the last recession, most companies, large and small, have improved their culture and business. In 2008, a candidate might have been eager to escape a horrible boss or bad culture. Thankfully, there are fewer of both now, but relying on another company to be worse than yours is a bad strategy.

The skills you want reside in larger firms

In the past, small companies could attract talent from larger firms by emphasizing work flexibility and a family atmosphere. Over the years, most large companies have invested a fortune in work-life balance alternatives, as well as other bells and whistles. Don’t expect a candidate to take a pay cut to work at a smaller firm just because you won’t make them use a vacation day for a child’s doctor visit. Realistically, is that worth $10,000 less in salary and a cut in a 401(k) match?

Candidates have options

The traditional mindset is that a candidate applies for a job – basically asking an employer to consider them. In reality, the balance of power has now shifted. Employers ask the candidate to join them. Many small companies let their egos get in the way of this newfound practice. They think the candidate needs to show they want the job and make some type of sacrifice. This is a self-defeating philosophy, especially when a candidate is considering multiple employers. The choice is not between a candidate’s existing employer and your company. It is between the existing employer and any of two, three or five companies that will appear over the next few months. In a good economy, everyone grows. Other companies have grown and need the same skilled candidates as you.

The solution

The first thing you need to do is create a clear message for attracting talented candidates. If your team can’t answer the question, “Why should I quit my job and work for you?” then you need to revisit your message and, potentially, your team members. The answer can’t be “because we are nice people.” It needs to be a clearly defined message.

The second step is determining the type of person you want to hire. Attributes like experience level, current job and the type of company or industry someone is currently working in should all be analyzed and considered. Select and define the factors most important to your business. Identify your market, and then figure out a way to get that message to your market. Ads, recruitment firms and aggressive referral programs are all useful tools.

Lastly, have an employment process that is candidate friendly. Don’t make a candidate leave work in the middle of the day for a half-hour screening interview. Don’t have an interviewer who thinks it is their job to ask questions but not answer them. Engage with the candidate. If you don’t do that with them now, they will project that behavior onto themselves as a potential employee and stop the hiring process before it ever really gets started.

How to Create a Talent Management Process

If you want to get the best out of your employees and attract new talent, you must implement an efficient talent management process.

Employees are the most important part of an organization, offering passion, personality, hard work and unique assets from all angles. This is the mentality you should have when developing your team – and your talent management process.

Some employers act on the notion that workers can be replaced, viewing them not as humans but as machines that simply get the job done. Instead, you should recognize and build on superior talent within your organization, focusing on their personal strengths and interests, and how they fit into your business.

Such a strategy is known as a talent management process, which seeks to recruit, develop and retain top talent.

Today’s employees want to know that they have been selected for positions because they have the ability to succeed in those positions and that the organization is going to continue to develop them into top performers. They are looking for companies with strong talent management systems that will recognize their individual efforts, reward their performance, and give them opportunities for growth and development.

Your talent management process exists to support your employees without trying to change them. It’s a crucial addition to every business. To get the best out of your employees and continue to attract new talent, you’ll want to implement an efficient talent management process. Here’s how.

Creating a talent management process

The first step is to ensure that there are channels and pathways for expectation setting, training, two-way feedback, and coaching to enable a continuous cycle of talent management and performance.

Transparency is key. Employees search for more than monetary rewards and a glamorous office. Sure, those incentives are attractive and beneficial, but workers want to know that they share the vision and values of their potential company. That’s why it’s crucial to identify your organization’s mission from the get-go.

The organization must have a solid idea of what they are about, what they want to accomplish and who they want to be as they journey there. This may take the form of a mission statement, organization goal and/or a list of no-compromise values.

Given how tight the labor market is today, it’s critical that you’re able to differentiate the experience your company or team will provide for a potential candidate and, eventually, employee. Part of how this is accomplished is by sharing company values and telling their story – things that must be proved out once someone is hired. It can’t just be lip service.

Your vision and values as a company will influence every part of your talent management process, from recruitment and hiring to retention and employee development. For instance, an applicant might be a talented individual with tons of experience, but if their objectives don’t match yours, they won’t serve your organization the way you need. Or, if a current employee isn’t progressing in a way that suits your mission, you’ll better know how to approach the issue for both parties.

Areas of focus

There are many issues to address in your talent management process:

  • Organizational and job design: Which skills, abilities and performance are needed to meet goals and objectives?
  • Workforce planning: What is your strategy or plan for developing teams with the necessary skills and capabilities? Which skills are critical to hire, and which can be built through training and coaching?
  • Talent acquisition: How will you source, screen and hire talent with the right skills, abilities and characteristics?
  • Onboarding and orientation: What are your pre-arrival and arrival logistics? What will your new-hire orientation entail? How will you ensure effective expectation setting, team integration, and cultural alignment and assimilation?
  • Learning and development: How will you customize training for each worker in line with company goals and objectives? How will you integrate this development into day-to-day performance, management, feedback and coaching?
  • Performance management: How will you provide continuous opportunities for performance review, appraisal, feedback and planning? How will you ensure clarity of expectations and nurture a culture of coaching and performance?
  • Leadership development: How will you review employee performance and potential? How will you develop and prepare individuals for possible leadership roles?
  • Employee engagement: How will you continuously gauge employee engagement levels? How will you align their work with the company’s vision, objectives, beliefs, roles and values?

As a small business looking to make initial inroads around effective talent management, it is important to focus on the components and levers that are most impactful for your team or organization.

 

What Are the Important HR Requirements for Small Business?

There are also some basic requirements you have to fulfill as a small business owner. When people come to work for you, it’s your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace, to comply with relevant employment laws in your country, to keep good records, and to pay salaries and benefits promptly and effectively.

Small business team human resources

In this blog, we’ll dive into these topics and show you how to comply with these important human resource requirements in your small business. They may not be the most exciting things you’ll do in your small business, but they are critical if you want to have happy, productive employees—and avoid some organizational or legal headaches down the road.

Note: When you’re reading this blog, keep in mind that it’s aimed at a U.S. audience. Employment laws and other regulations vary widely depending on the country you’re based in—and sometimes there are local regulations to be aware of for your city, state, province, etc. So although we’re going to go through some general examples here, based on U.S. regulations, be sure to check your local situation, and ideally get professional legal advice to make sure you’re complying with all relevant laws in your area.

If you think occupational safety or “health & safety” regulations are just about annoying government red tape, here’s a shocking statistic for you: in the United States in 2015 alone, 4,836 employees died from injuries sustained in the workplace.

Let those numbers sink in for a while.

It should be clear, then, that your first and most important responsibility as a small business owner is to keep your employees safe. So in this first section, we’ll go through some basic principles of occupational safety.

Start by analyzing your workplace and the processes your employees have to follow. Look for potential dangers and make a comprehensive inventory.

Some workplaces are more obviously dangerous than others—the risks at a manufacturing site where workers handle toxic chemicals and heavy machinery are easier to see than those at an office, for example. But in any workplace, things can go wrong.

Every year in the U.S., for example, 27 people die and over 10,000 are injured by elevators. Thousands of people injure themselves, sometimes seriously, by tripping over loose wires, open desk drawers, objects left in passageways, and so on. Poorly designed workstations and office chairs can leave employees vulnerable to back pain, repetitive motion injuries, and other serious ailments. An old or badly maintained building can create any number of hazards, from faulty wiring to loose ceiling tiles.

So start by compiling a list of potential hazards. You may be able to have an experienced health and safety professional visit your workplace and conduct a free survey as part of a subsidized government program. Or you could pay for a private consultant to do it.

Encourage employees to alert you to anything they see in their jobs that is potentially unsafe—they are the best resource to help you compile the initial safety inventory and then keep it updated.

Once you’ve assessed the risks, try to eliminate as many hazards as you can, and where you can’t eliminate them, at least aim to control them and reduce their likelihood.

Usually this involves setting up particular procedures that every employee should follow (e.g. when you’re operating this machine, you must wear eye protection and check that the safety catch is functioning properly). Then make sure everyone knows the procedures, that they’re properly documented, and that signs or posters are in place to remind people.

Here are some other important steps:

  • Make a plan for regular maintenance of the building and of any equipment that employees use.
  • Have a plan for medical emergencies and post emergency numbers prominently.
  • Train some employees in first aid procedures and make sure people know who they are and how to reach them.
  • Have a procedure for reporting injuries and make sure people know it.
  • Train all employees in health and safety procedures to ensure they know what to do.
  • Create an emergency plan and conduct frequent drills.

Identifying the risks and putting controls in place is great, but what if your employees still don’t follow the right procedures? It’s critical that everyone takes workplace safety seriously, and you can set that tone by your own actions.

Demonstrating your commitment to employee workplace safety will encourage your staff to take the subject seriously too, and it may help avoid accidents. On top of that, it shows that you value them and their physical well-being, so it sends a powerful message that may improve their general happiness and job satisfaction.

So create a clear policy on workplace safety and health, and post it prominently around the office and on the intranet or company website. Hold meetings to communicate the policy in person, and hold managers and employees accountable for complying with it.

Keep reviewing and updating your policy and procedures regularly, encouraging input and suggestions from employees. And if you’re requiring people to do extra work to ensure procedures are followed, make sure they have the time and resources to do that effectively.

Following all of these steps will not immunize you from workplace accidents, but it will help reduce their likelihood and create a safer work environment for everyone.

Employment laws are a key part of small business human resource requirements and they can be very complex. These laws govern small businesses too, so you need to be up to speed and make sure you’re complying with all the regulations.

One of the most common forms of employment law deals with the issue of equal opportunity. Essentially, you should not discriminate in your hiring practices based on gender, race, religion, national origin, age, disability, etc. And you should have clear policies in place to guard against discrimination and harassment in the workplace. You may also be required to put up notices in the workplace to inform employees of their rights and your compliance with the relevant laws.

A few examples of the laws affecting this area in the U.S.:

  • Civil Rights Act
  • Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) regulations
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
  • Equal Pay Act
  • Americans With Disabilities Act

Workers in many countries have the right to organize and bargain collectively or join a union. They often have the right to be paid overtime if they work extra hours, and to have a certain number of work breaks during the day.

There may be rules on how much vacation time or other benefits you have to provide—and if you provide paid vacation and employees don’t use it, you may have to pay them the monetary equivalent. And there are many more rights, both large and small, that workers have fought for over the years and had codified in law.

Sometimes there are exceptions—for example, in the U.S., salaried workers are generally exempt from the laws around overtime and work breaks, and independent contractors are exempt from many of the rules that apply to permanent employees. But you need to be careful about how you classify people, because there are rules about that too, and it’s easy to fall foul of them.

Also, don’t forget about things like parental leave and medical leave. You must allow employees to take time off according to the laws in your country, and make sure their job is still available for them when they return.

We covered the principles of workplace safety in the last section, but there may also be specific laws and regulations you need to comply with and posters you need to display in the workplace. So in addition to the work you do to provide a safe workplace, make sure you’re following all the relevant rules as well.

Filing is not the most exciting task you’ll ever do, but it’s important. The good news is that the requirements are quite simple—you just need to keep a file (or files, as we’ll see in a minute) for each employee, containing important information about their employment. And, most importantly, you’ll need to keep these files very secure, because they contain sensitive information.

Ideally, you’ll have two separate files for each employee: one for general employment information, and another for medical information.  Here’s what should go in each:

This file gathers all the information related to a particular employee in one place. You can start it when you hire them, by dropping in their resume and any hiring documents or forms they’ve signed.

Then you can add documents as you go along, such as:

  • training records
  • performance reviews
  • any disciplinary action
  • tax forms
  • payroll details
  • acknowledgement of receiving the employee handbook
  • other contracts or agreements the employee has signed

If an employee has a medical condition or disability that affects their work, you may need to keep medical records, but you should always keep them in a separate file in a very secure location.

That’s because medical information is very personal, and someone who may need to access the employee’s general file should not see their medical records. So keep this information in a separate file, and be very strict about who can access this file and why.

You need to keep proof of a worker’s eligibility to work in the U.S. This form is called Form I-9. Because immigration officials can ask to check these forms, you should keep them separate from the employee’s other information, so that you can just provide them to the government without giving access to all the employee’s personal data.

Another basic HR requirement for every small business is to pay people on time and provide any relevant benefits.

Small businesses often struggle with sufficient cash flow, but if you manage it carefully and make accurate forecasts, you can ensure you always have enough on hand. And if you need to delay any payments, employees’ salaries are not the ones to mess with. Paying someone late tells them that they’re not respected, and/or that the business is in serious trouble. Either way, it’s a sure way to get them updating their resume and looking for a new job.

But beyond that, you also need to make sure you calculate the right amount, make the correct tax deductions, keep and provide the right records, file the right forms with the tax authorities, and so on.

You also need to keep on top of benefits—give employees the right information and make it easy for them to access their benefits, and keep track of, for example, how many vacation days each person has taken out of their overall entitlement. Where benefits are provided by a third party, such as a health insurance company, you need to make sure that everybody is enrolled who should be enrolled, and that everything is running smoothly and people are able to access the help they need.

In this blog, you’ve seen how to comply with some important human resource requirements for your small business. You’ve learned how to keep your employees safe, how to keep on top of employment laws and regulations, how to keep good records, and how to provide pay and benefits efficiently.

AZ HR Hub is your HR partner so you can focus on your business.  Call us today for a free consultation.

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