In this first blog post of 2019, we’re suggesting a New Year’s Resolution for employers. Very few people like having difficult conversations but, in an employment context, it’s important that matters are addressed at an early stage.
We recognise that it is often difficult to deal with concerns over performance or minor conduct issues. However, issues such as a lack of attention to detail, poor timekeeping, a below average attendance record and too much use of mobile phone in the workplace can have a negative impact on productivity and can affect morale and so should be dealt with at an early stage.
Too often managers neglect to address minor issues at an early stage. The effect of this is that the issue “snowballs” and resentment builds up, leading to a bigger problem down the line.
The Codes of Practice on dealing with disciplinary issues in the workplace (the LRA Code in Northern Ireland and the ACAS Code in GB) advocate dealing with minor issues of performance and conduct in an informal manner. Very often all that is required is a quiet word where the manager advises the employee that they have noticed a certain issue and pointing out the improvement that is required. If this leads to the desired improvement, that is the best outcome for all concerned. The employee is spared from formal disciplinary proceedings and the manager and colleagues of the employee benefit from the improvement. Only if improvement is not forthcoming or not sustained should a manager then consider moving to a formal disciplinary process for a minor performance or misconduct offence.
Our advice to employers at the start of this New Year is to nip issues in the bud early before they become bigger problems down the line. A quiet, informal conversation at an early stage usually benefits everyone involved and prevents the issue becoming a bigger one with more serious consequences. If this does not resolve the issue and you have to go down a more formal disciplinary route, the employee will not be able to say that they have not had the issue drawn to their attention before the matter went down a more formal route.
Of course, as ever, we can be contacted for advice in relation to anything contained in this article or anything else to do with the law and good practice around employing people.