[aa_subtitle_display]Problem employees are like a contagious disease. Their negativity can spread to other employees, creating drama and tension in the workplace. This negative person can cost your company in terms of lost productivity and lost clients, but your company can also get hit with expensive wrongful termination lawsuits. If you’re trying to save money and increase productivity but a problem employee is holding you back, you’ll need to handle it properly to reduce the risks that could cost your company even more money and even further decreased productivity. That’s right, getting rid of a problem employee can actually make things worse if it is not handled correctly.

ne of the easiest ways to remedy the problem is to make job expectations crystal clear. Goals, Oquotas, and requirements should be clear enough that they can’t be misinterpreted. Set out these expectations upon hiring, post them in common areas (if they apply to all positions,) and discuss the goals and the performance at regular meetings. If you are setting new expectations, put them in writing and have employees sign them to show that they understand what they have to achieve.

Setting clear expectations can work in a couple of ways. The first is that employees will be clear on what they need to do, so they may make changes to achieve the requirements. You’ve spent time and money training your employees, so if you can give the employee a chance to reform, you can protect that investment and prevent having to spend time and money on hiring and training a new employee. If they don’t make changes and don’t achieve the goals, they can’t claim that they didn’t know what was expected of them. This leads to the second way that clear expectations can help: an ability to show that the problem employee hasn’t met job requirements. Problem employees often believe that they are being treated unfairly, so having clear expectations that apply to anyone in that position and documentation of each employee’s performance will give evidence that an employee has been treated fairly but still underperformed.

It’s best not to blindside employees with termination. It’s better to work through a progressive discipline program with clear steps so that employees knows when they haven’t met expectations, and so they have a chance to turn their behavior around. Most discipline programs include steps like an oral warning, written warning, suspension, and termination. Each step is documented so that employers can prove that there was proper reason to finally let an employee go. Working with a PEO for human resources services can help you to establish a progressive discipline program for your company that will minimize your legal risks.

A PEO will be up-to-date on all labor laws, so they can help you to create programs and employee handbooks that will set out clear expectations and rules for employees that will reduce risks to your company. They can also help with recruiting and hiring to avoid problem employees in the first place. So protect your business from bad employees and wrongful termination suits by setting clear expectations and partnering with a PEO.

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