No matter what your business or industry, there are going to be employees who make HR’s job miserable. They may be just unhappy people who waste your time through constant complaints. In the worst case, these problems may include criminal acts or bitter lawsuits. Even small businesses have a 12 percent risk of being sued.
However, there are some ways you can manage volatile employees.
Determine the Cause
Some angry employees may have legitimate grievances through inappropriate behavior from supervisors or colleagues. But problem employees will make themselves known by repeated and often escalated tensions. Anti-social behavior, tardiness, and poor performance become daily issues. Firing disgruntled employees may open you up to lawsuits, but consider the costs of keeping them and their effects on everyone else.
As an HR professional, hiring is part of your duties. After finding qualified candidates, schedule at least two interviews, one general interview done by HR and one skills interview with managers. Be sure that questions are posed in both that will explore the applicant’s character. Ask for examples about past workplace issues or criticisms, pose conflict/resolution scenarios, and explore attitudes toward authority and responsibility. If any of the answers seem awkward or objectionable, the candidate represents a level of risk.
Make disciplinary actions and performance reviews a part of every employee’s file. You may need documentation to defend your actions. Either you or an employee may seek litigation to resolve issues or damages. Business litigation may be required for many issues, from hiring and firing to misuse of the company’s physical or intellectual property.
These issues can be quite complex and highly damaging in terms of both monetary awards and company reputation. When employee problems do escalate into legal issues, it’s crucial to retain a business lawyer from The Weisblatt Law Firm or another provider in your particular area.
Have clearly defined company policies on expectations based on job descriptions or quotas, drug use, sexual harassment, discrimination, and other issues. Clearly spell out the disciplinary process such as verbal warnings, unpaid suspensions, or termination. You should also draw up procedures for conflict resolution, such as the chain of command or formal requests for HR intervention. Put these policies into a printed handbook for all employees and make them accessible on the company intranet.
Every responsible company wants to give employees a fair and safe environment. It’s the law. But employees that are consistently disruptive should be monitored and disciplined by HR to prevent them ever becoming a major problem.