Weed out the troublemakers before they take root

Every office has one: the person who moans and whines their way through the working week, making life hell for everyone else. They find fault with everything, they resist change and, worst of all, they don’t keep their views to themselves and end up infecting the rest of the workplace with their negativity. Some seem to be go out of their way to make life difficult for their line managers and for HR.

Our exclusive survey with law firm Halliwells reveals that moaners are the most common type of awkward employee – ahead of liars, bullies and worriers.

They are incredibly difficult to manage and take up far too much time. Half of the respondents in our survey face difficult situations every month. HR isn’t confident of line managers’ ability to deal with awkward employees and, worryingly, these employees aren’t managed well at all. At worst, they are dubbed a ‘lost cause’, and the situation is allowed to fester and cause even more damage to morale and productivity. At best, instead of tackling the problem head on, these awkward employees are ‘engineered’ out of the organisation. This is potentially dangerous, as it exposes the employer to potentially costly and time-consuming legal claims, and can even dent the employer brand.

As problems relating to conduct, capability and grievance are clearly escalating, HR has to take the lead in giving line managers support in dealing with these awkward people.

Having a sound recruitment policy is a good place to start. That way HR can help weed out the potential troublemakers before they take root and aim to only hire people who will be an asset to the organisation. Line managers should also be encouraged to go down strict performance or disciplinary routes to send out a strong message to other employees that awkward behaviour will not be tolerated. HR has to ensure that turning a blind eye is no longer an option.

Karen Dempsey, Editor

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