Are employees really your greatest asset?
When they are working well and firing on all cylinders, employees can be a company’s greatest asset. However, disengaged and underperforming members of staff can drain the energy from a workplace, stop a team from realising its full potential and even threaten to sink enterprises.
When our client, a London-based civil engineering company was starting out, an underperforming member of staff was causing it a number of difficulties. “We had a member of staff who couldn’t answer the phone, used to arrive late, took long smoke and lunch breaks and wasn’t performing. It was just a small start-up at the time and he just wasn’t pulling his weight.”
In general, there are two reasons why employees underperform: either they lack the skills and abilities to do their job or they don’t put in as much effort as they should. The Company tried to manage the situation by helping the floundering employee to re-engage with his work.
“We started talking to him suggesting that he put himself on further education courses. We also asked him for ideas and he said he wanted to do a degree in English Literature, which wasn’t really what we were asking and wouldn’t have helped the situation.”
At this point the company knew they needed to get hold of expert HR advice and contacted Carolyne Wahlen at Gap HR.
“We wanted to know about terminating his contract. We weren’t sure where we stood legally to do this, but because he was employed under two years. Carolyne said there was very little he could do about it. So we terminated his contract and gave him a month’s pay. It was the best call for everyone.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, because it is someone’s livelihood. But at least Gap HR’s advice gave us the confidence that we weren’t going to be sued for doing it. He was a nice guy and I think he was frustrated with the job as well because he wasn’t progressing as much as he should’ve.”
This isn’t the only tricky staff situation that Gap HR has helped out with.
“There was awfully good advice on another employee who was showing challenging behaviour after he had resigned. We were wanting to know our rights and what we could do with him, whether to put him on garden leave or terminate his contract.”
The employee concerned was spending a lot of time on the internet looking at politically orientated websites that were nothing to do with his job. The company blocked his access to these sites which he didn’t take too well.
“I did refer him back to his contract saying that it was within our rights to monitor what employees do. He wasn’t very happy that we looked before we told him we were going to check. Then he tried to incite others in the office to rebel against our blocking of websites that we didn’t deem appropriate.”
Fortunately, none of this came to pass. The company, after checking with Gap HR, sat down with their troublesome employee, listened to his points of contention and talked through the issues. Ultimately, he saw his employer’s point of view and accepted it.
“The employee pulled his weight and finished without us having to do anything. But it was comforting to have Gap HR there to know what we could do if the situation went out of control.