Troubled by employee misconduct issues? Here’s what you can do

Moira Grassick

July 27 2021

Whether it’s the return to an established routine or for the social aspect, most employees will be delighted to get back to the workplace. And yet, in the process of returning, it’s possible that one or two employee conduct issues could arise.

That may be employees not following health & safety protocols, wishing instead to work remotely, or being uncooperative in the broader sense. Whatever the reason for an employee’s misconduct, it’s important that you first address the issue and support them where you can.

If that fails, however, you may need to investigate the issue further and even take disciplinary action…

Approaching employee resentment

Jumping to conclusions with regards to why an employee is upset at returning to work will get you nowhere.

Begin by simply talking to the employee. Try to get them to open up about the real reasons why they’re angry or uncooperative. This will give you the chance to investigate the issue informally and show the employee you care. It may also lead to resolution, especially if their issue is something you can help with, like concerns around workplace health & safety.

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Reasons for resentment

After the year we’ve all had, there could be a number of reasons as to why your employee is being resentful. Below are two commons reasons.

The employee prefers remote working 

One of the most startling figures from the Second Annual National Remote Working Survey was that over 95% of workers now favour some form of remote working.

What that means for you as an employer is it might be time to consider ‘hybrid’ working. This is where employees can split their time between the office and the home. If you’re happy to accommodate this arrangement, it creates a better work-life balance for the employee and furthermore, makes them happier.

Worries about contracting coronavirus or vulnerability

Another one of the most common worries employees have when getting back to work is contracting coronavirus. This is understandable as many people also have caring responsibilities or children at home.

In this instance, a little reassurance goes a long way. To do that, get your staff involved and conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment. In doing so, risks they’re concerned about can be highlighted and addressed.

It may also be that an employee has a serious health condition. In this scenario, it might be worth allowing them to work remotely to ease their worries. 

Employee misconduct and the disciplinary procedure

Employee misconduct behaviour can continue even after you’ve addressed their concerns. In rare cases, an employee’s behaviour might rise to the level of misconduct.

It’s vital that this is treated in a balanced and consistent manner. On the one hand, the employee may be experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety. On the other, the behaviour may be interfering with the operation of the business or the wellbeing of other staff.

Informal methods should be used at first, but where they fail, or where the misconduct is severe or persistent, it’s reasonable to take disciplinary action. Following the process as set out in your employee handbook will be essential.

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