“As the employer, you are in the driver’s seat and you make the rules,” said Kristina Vaquera, Principal Attorney, Jackson Lewis, PC. In the final installment of the Hampton Roads Chamber’s Human Resources for Business Leaders series, with a presentation entitled Dealing with a Problem Employee: An Interactive Dive with Hypotheticals and Q & A. Vaquera represented the legal side of escalated problem employee issues, while her co-presenter Stacy Hawks, Senior Human Resource Analyst with the City of Virginia Beach represented the view of the company human resource officer.
Vaquera and Hawks presented five identifiable scenarios of problem employees, which included: Bullying, Absenteeism, A Substance Abuser, the Demanding Employee, and the Incumbent Complainer. “At the end of the day, we know if you have a problem employee, it’s an impact on office morale, productivity and the bottom line,” said Hawks.
Much emphasis was made about ensuring that the right employee is hired in the first place. When it comes to interviewing for a vacancy, “trust your instincts,” Vaquera said. “It is important that you don’t hire desperately, that you go through the vetting process thoroughly,” said Hawks.
Yet, problem employees do exist. Some strategies provided were continuous and repeated documentation. Direct and forthright discussion and training of managers and staff. “Nothing you do is unofficial. It’s appropriate to document behaviors all day, and when speaking to the problem employee, don’t talk around the issue, call it what it is,” said Hawks.
Vaquera and Hawks discussed the difference between a workplace problem and an unlawful action. They cited workplace bullying and cautioned that if an employee brings this up, “it can be a pre-cursor to unlawful behavior and ultimately detracts from building an effective high performing team,” said Hawks. One way to address a bully in the workplace is to emphasize the focus needs to shift from being person-centered to work-centered.
“We need to do more teaching and training and make sure there are work place practices that managers can use. It is important to create a culture of accountability,” said Vaquera. This popular series was one of those steps that helps employers understand the laws and policies in place for both employee and employer protection.
The Hampton Roads Chamber means business and is proud to partner with the Hampton Roads Society for Human Resource Management to offer this three-part series helping local and small businesses and human resource professionals learn about new strategies and practices in human resource management.