Hassle Free HR – Regularly Asked Questions and Answers

Managing Change

Q- We have recently had a change in management and some members of staff are finding the transition hard. They don’t seem comfortable or happy. How shall I deal with this?

A – When employees are dealing with a change in the workplace it can be difficult. It is a normal response to fear and resent change because employees get in to their routines and changes at work, such as a change in management, may threaten or challenge the status quo. A good way to manage any change in the workplace is to involve employees fully, communicate and introduce the change positively i.e. show them how the change will benefit them, how their work environment will improve under the new management etc. In this situation a meeting with employees collectively and then individually would be useful in order to hear how employees are feeling. Let us know if you have a similar issue that you would like advice and guidance on.

Managing Performance

Q – I’m having a problem with an employee’s performance levels. Their performance isn’t up to standard, how should I deal with this?

A – Poor performance can be dangerous to any business or organisation. If someone isn’t working to the best of their ability it can bring down the productivity of the whole business and the whole team. It is best to deal with performance issues as quickly as possible to avoid these inevitabilities, whilst also making sure that you act reasonably. The main issue when dealing with poor performance is to ascertain the cause – is the poor performance due to capability (can’t do) or conduct (won’t do). You will establish the answer to this through an objective investigation which involves asking appropriate questions to ascertain the underlying cause. Once you have identified the cause you will then need to manage the issue through either your disciplinary procedure or through a performance improvement process. Let us know if you have a similar issue that you would like advice and guidance on.

Employee with Personal Problems

Q – An employee of mine is having a particularly difficult time and is finding work hard to cope with. They have requested time off work but I don’t know if they are entitled to time off, how much time they should have if they are entitled, and also how best to go about this. What should I do?

A – Employees do have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to deal with certain situations. If they are dealing with an emergency related to someone who is dependent upon them e.g. a child, a parent, a sibling, a partner, or a grandparent etc. then they are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid emergency leave to deal with the emergency only. Depending upon the situation, compassionate leave may be more appropriate, whereby an employer will provide a discretionary amount of either unpaid or paid time off to take ‘time out’ and deal with whatever is required. Finally, you will need to give consideration to whether you believe the employee is well enough to attend work and whether their inability to cope is down to a health issue. In this case, you would manage the situation through your normal Sickness and Absence Procedure. Let us know if you have a similar issue that you would like advice and guidance on.

Bullying & Harassment at Work

Q – I have suspicions that there may be cases of bullying within my workplace. How should I identify and deal with this?

A – Bullying in the workplace is a serious issue that is on the rise and has doubled since before the recession. It is so widespread that Acas have said that they believe one in ten employees have experienced some level of bullying. Not only is it a difficult experience for the victim but it can also have serious implications in the workplace as it may affect other employees’ attendance, quality of work and general morale. Examples of bullying may include being picked on, being made to feel humiliated, being unfairly treated, being verbally abused or subject to malicious or insulting behaviour or it may be more subtle and difficult to identify, like being excluded. The best thing to do is create a work culture that is open and honest so that people feel completely comfortable talking to management about any issues that may arise, including bullying. The best way to respond to a claim is to ask the alleged victim to make a note of all the specifics of the alleged bullying i.e. dates, times, where, who was present etc. which you will then need to investigate in an objective, timely and confidential manner .Your investigation will identify if, on the balance of probability, you believe there is a case of bullying which needs to addressed formally in line with your disciplinary procedure. Let us know if you have a similar issue that you would like advice and guidance on.

Employee with Negative Attitude

Q – I have an employee who moves around the workplace with a constant negative attitude. They seem to spread gossip and discontent. I feel that their behaviour is passive aggressive towards me and the organisation, how should I stop this passive aggressive behaviour?

A – Passive aggressive behaviour is very common in the work place. If someone is unhappy in the work place they will subtly take it out on those surrounding them whether this is by spreading gossip, constantly moaning or griping, or taking so long to complete a job that it will be given to somebody else. Dealing with this type of behaviour can be difficult but it is worth doing before they can further poison your workplace. The secret is to not get involved in their behaviour or “play their game”. If they moan at you, don’t get involved. If they attempt to exchange gossip with you, do not participate. Make your excuses and walk away. You should also advise the rest of your organisation to remove themselves from these situations as best as they can. Hopefully this may stop the behaviour although it may not. If it doesn’t it may be a good idea to hold a meeting with this individual to discuss their behaviour, it is easy to say that excuses will probably be made, they may even get emotional, these are all common tactics of the passive aggressive individual. You should obviously try to discover why they are feeling unhappy, as they probably are, but there is only so much you can do. You must manage this behaviour and try and get them to change their ways as best as you can through investigations. If you require any help managing this difficult situation we here as Hassle Free HR would be able to help and advise you.

Problems within a small family-run business

Q – I work in a small family business. We generally work well together but recently there have been a number of conflicts and I believe these are caused by us being related and bringing personal tensions in to our work place. Is there any advice you can give us on how to avoid this?

A –This answer can also be applicable to friends who run a business as well as family. It is very common for family/friend run businesses to have problems relating to working relationships. People have different boundaries inside and outside of the workplace, they talk to each other differently, they relate to each other differently. What is acceptable at home may not be acceptable in the work place. It is very important that the relationships you have previously held are left at the office door, you are not working with your sister; you are working with your colleague. You are not working with your long term friend; you are working with your colleague. You can discuss work life in work and personal life away from the office. Create a boundary. It is also advisable to create a hierarchy and focus on ‘communication’. By creating a hierarchy or a structure then everyone will know who is in charge and who they ‘report to’ and by making sure the communication in the Company is ‘clear’ everyone will understand their role and what they are supposed to do. If you require more information or would like more in-depth advice on certain situations then please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Hassle Free HR.

If you wish to contact us and talk to us about any of the issues on this page, or anything else, contact us on hradvice@hasslefreehr.co.uk