How does your business deal with poor employee behaviour? A well-motivated workforce performing strongly is the key to any successful business. However, it only takes one or two bad apples whose behaviour in the workplace is unacceptable to have an extremely damaging effect on your business. Employees who have an unsatisfactory attendance record or have a poor attitude are two of the main problems which employers can face.

When an employee has a bad attitude, it can have a very negative impact on a business and create an unpleasant atmosphere. The behaviour of these employees doesn’t only affect their own performance at work, it also influences others. It is often the case that employers don’t know what to do about this type of issues, so they don’t do anything.  This can have a very detrimental impact on their business.

Most employers have had experience of employing someone who has a negative attitude. The following characteristics are typically associated with these employees. They may be rude to customers, colleagues and management, moan incessantly, refuse to follow instructions, or be persistently late for work. Further issues include making derisory comments about the business, its customers and employees to third parties.  This may be done verbally, through social networking sites or in emails.

There are many reasons why an employee may have a bad attitude at work, including not enjoying their work, personal problems, feeling under-appreciated by the employer, or just because that’s the way he or she is!

What can be done to tackle the issue of an employee who has a bad attitude? The first step is usually to talk to the employee to try and find out what the problem is.  See if you can identify any issues you can do something about. If the employee has personal problems, consider whether there is anything you can do to help.  Explain exactly what kind of behaviour is and is not acceptable and make it clear that disciplinary proceedings will follow if the issue is not resolved. If the employee’s attitude doesn’t improve, consider taking disciplinary action against the employee on the grounds of misconduct, under your Disciplinary Procedure.

Before doing anything it is very important to seek advice. Employment law can be onerous and taking professional advice will ensure your actions comply with legislation. It is generally worth spending a relatively small amount of money to solve a problem which could be costing the business much more overall due to demotivated and unproductive employees and dissatisfied customers.

Poor attendance is another common problem. Employees who regularly fail to attend work at short notice can cause huge problems. Frequent unplanned absences cause uncertainty, create backlogs of work, annoy customers, put undue pressure on other employees and create feelings of resentment.

If an employee’s attendance is poor, your priority should be to find out what the reason for the poor attendance is. How to manage the issue will depend on the precise nature of the problem. It’s often a good idea to have an informal chat with the employee initially, to discuss the absences and the reasons for them.

If there are different reasons for unauthorised absences and you’re satisfied there isn’t an underlying health or personal issue, explain to the employee that his or her attendance is unsatisfactory and that disciplinary action will be taken if it doesn’t improve. If informal action doesn’t work, you may have to take disciplinary action.

Employees who don’t pull their weight, or who aren’t up to the job are other common issues. Both problems can be tackled initially with informal chats. For the former it’s important to find out if there are any work-related issues that need to be addressed and whether the employee is unhappy with their job, or demotivated for any reason. For the latter, make the employee aware of the issue, find out if there are any underlying issues and consider whether there is anything which can be done to improve performance. Disciplinary action can be taken in relation to both kinds of issue on the grounds of poor performance.

Informal meetings can be very useful, however be mindful to plan meetings carefully, do your homework and give clear feedback. Try to find out the reasons for the employee’s behaviour, particularly if their behaviour has suddenly deteriorated. Keep a record of any agreement which is reached, whether in an informal or formal context. Make a note of any agreed outcomes, the standards which are required and the dates they need to be achieved by. Include any support or training to be provided and the consequences if the agreement is breached.

Ensure a copy of the document is given to the employee and follow it up with further meetings, agreed written outcomes and formal disciplinary action if necessary.

Appraisals for staff members help employers to identify issues which they might not have been aware of otherwise and provide an opportunity to ‘nip things in the bud’. Make sure appraisals are carried out regularly and keep records.

The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures applies to dismissals for misconduct and poor performance. It’s important to ensure that your disciplinary and grievance procedures comply with the code.

A happy, productive workforce is essential to the success of most organisations. Staying on top of conduct and performance issues will give your employees the right message and ensure that a badly behaving employee who doesn’t change his or her ways can be dismissed. This can significantly improve the atmosphere and performance of your workforce and help to ensure your business has a bright future ahead.

Dealing with employee bad behaviour