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Managing toxic behaviour in the workplace
Toxic employees could be amongst Australia’s biggest workplace issue, based on new data from Employsure – Australia’s largest employment relations consultancy – that sheds light on the concerns most faced by Australian managers.
In the 12 months to May 2015, more than 60 per cent of employer calls for advice to Employsure were for employee conduct issues. Written warnings, probationary termination, and termination for serious misconduct top the list of conduct matters.
Edward Mallett, Managing Director of Employsure, says: “It is clear a staggering amount of workplaces are dealing with toxic behaviour. If ignored, toxic employees can soon lead to cancerous workplaces, ultimately effecting business success”.
“Only a portion of small business employers are aware of what they can and can’t do when dealing with difficult behaviour. They can remove toxic behaviour by developing solid employee contracts, workplace policies and a performance management program.”
Edward Mallett’s tips to manage seven types of toxic employees:
The Fibber. This employee fibs, gossips and tells tall tales. Employers should be most concerned about them lying to customers and management about deliverables or outcomes. Edward says, “This may seem trivial but it can be damaging and that’s why it’s covered in legislation. You can make it clear that this kind of behaviour is not appropriate in employee manuals and covering it in induction processes.”
The Offloader. This employee will not hold back when delegating. They do little work and somehow manage to take the credit for other people’s hard toil. Edward says, “As an employer, you can put a clear performance and review policy in place to monitor poor staff performance. These programs can empower and encourage an employee to deliver results, too.”
The Frequent Indulger. This employee can often take sick days that coincide with public holidays, or arrive at work late feeling the effects of a big weekend. Edward says, “Employers need to train staff on good conduct and they can include clear descriptions of unacceptable behaviour in an employment handbook. Introduce return-to-work interviews – an employee is less likely to take a sickie when they have to face their manager the next day.”
The Pilferer. Ever had some unexplained transactions on a company credit card? Or are staff member complaining that personal items are missing? You might have a thief in your midst. The Pilferer is confidently sneaky, and their behaviour may go unnoticed for some time. Edward says, “Employers have a couple of options to protect themselves and other staff members from thieves, including a Right to Search Policy and a Surveillance Policy.”
The Bully. Reacting to stress is one thing, but yelling, threatening or swearing at colleagues is an immediate red flag. As an employer, if you don’t address bullying immediately, you could find yourself dealing with it in court. In 2014, The Fair Work Commission introduced an order for employees to submit applications to stop bullying they may have experienced at work. This means any employee can lodge a bullying claim. “Implementing an Anti-bullying Policy can protect businesses before a bullying claim is made. Training managers on how to conduct themselves at work is another option. Managers are highly influential. If a good example is set, employees usually follow this,” Edward says.
The Royalista. This employee is far from treating the client as king. It is their way or the highway and you only find out about the client relationship deterioration until it is too late. “They may need to be performance managed and a disciplinary procedure should be used to investigate the wrongdoings,” Edward says.
The Divulger. This employee over-shares internal company information at industry events attended by competitors or with external stakeholders. It can be very damaging to business when that information is your next big business idea. “Employers are in danger of running into this issue if they don’t have a Conflict of Interest Procedure and a Confidentiality Agreement in place. These need to be explained to all new employees when they start and the agreement needs to be signed by everyone,” Edward says.