For every employee who always gives his best and performs very well, there is one who you have to keep your eye on; causes a little bit of trouble amongst your staff; or is a bit lazy and doesn’t pull his weight or is persistently off sick.
The concerns you have about this second kind of employees may have gone unaddressed until now, for many reasons. Maybe you don’t have the time; or you don’t think the situation is serious enough to have to address it; or maybe you just don’t want to because you don’t know how or you are wary of the fall out.
Whatever your explanations, it’s not a good idea to avoid the conversations you need to have with your staff, and here are a few reasons why.
Negative impact on your success
Your company is obviously doing well to continue to operate in the current climate so you are retaining clients/customers and making money. But just think about how much better you could be doing, how much more money you could be making if all of your staff were working at full competence. Your outgoings would stay the same in terms of wages, but your incomings could be increased by that extra order taken by the employee arriving at 9am instead of 9.10am, or the customer who returns to you because they had good service on their previous visit, instead of deciding to go elsewhere because your employee’s customer service was not up to your standards.
Rule breaking will become the norm
If your staff, particularly new starters, notice the absence of any ‘punishment’ for poor behaviour they are likely to think that you are happy for the behaviour to continue and will adopt the same practices. This may lead to you, with the example of tardy staff, losing 10 minutes of working time in the morning for a significant number of your staff who turn up late.
Consistency is important
When the time comes when you feel you have had enough of lateness, for example, and you decide that you must discipline an employee who has turned up late, you may find yourself hampered by the fact that previous instances have gone unaddressed. How will you respond to the inevitable question of “Why are you only disciplining me when everyone else does it too?”
Tribunals expect procedure
Although your employee has a long history of poor behaviour, dismissing him for his 15th instance of lateness, when you have never raised the issue with him previously in a formal way is extremely risky. Tribunals expect that a certain procedure is followed, including informing the employee of your concerns, allowing him an opportunity to speak about them and giving him time to improve. Without these formal actions, a dismissal is likely to be unfair.
Annoyance amongst other staff
Employees who do perform well, who may have to pick up the slack of the employee who does not pull their weight are likely to become very frustrated that they are doing more than others for the same pay. This may affect their morale and lead to a pronounced decrease in productivity.
By Nicola Mullineux
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