HR admits defeat over ‘lost cause’ employees

Awkward staff are plaguing UK employers to such an extent that HR professionals believe many of them to be a ‘lost cause’, exclusive Personnel Today research reveals.

Some UK workers are so troublesome – constantly moaning, lying, bullying or worrying for example – that HR professionals admit to engineering their departures without attempting to deal with the situation.

The survey of nearly 1,600 HR professionals, carried out in association with law firm Halliwells, reveals that 24% are forced to spend a ‘considerable amount’ of time dealing with awkward employees, with a further 53% spending ‘quite a lot’ of time. Almost a quarter have to deal with conduct, capability and grievance issues on a weekly basis, with more than half facing these situations every month.

More than three-quarters of the respondents admit that some difficult employees were a lost cause, with 29% revealing they have engineered the dismissal or redundancy of an awkward member of staff without attempting to deal with the situation.

The moaner was the most common type of awkward employee, highlighted by 82% of those polled.

A comment from one of the HR professionals was typical of many received: “Our most difficult type of employee is an individual persistently putting up barriers not to do a particular job, and then inciting others not to do the job.”

The bully was identified as the hardest type of difficult employee to manage, with HR professionals on the receiving end in many cases.

One respondent highlighted the “bad attitudes from employees who think they can treat HR with little or no respect. Sometimes they think that because it is an HR policy that is being applied, it is HR that is making their managers do something, rather than the manager themselves.”

Some awkward employees just simply don’t want to do the job, as one respondent revealed: “One employee who was on unauthorised absence, stating her car had broken down, wouldn’t use public transport and claimed it was the employer’s problem to get her to work and not hers. Her attitude was the worst I have ever seen.”

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