In a Workplace, employee issues are a fact of life. However, there are some good procedures you can follow to address employee issues and minimize the impact on your business and your stress.

As a manager, you have an obligation to address employee issues as quickly as possible to nip them in the bud. The sooner you address employee issues, the sooner you can come to a resolution.

It can be challenging to address employee issues, initially. However, the effort you put into addressing employee issues early, could save you a lot of frustration and money in the future, since it will bring the employee issue to a head.

The quality of you and your employee’s workplace environment, depends on your ability to address employee issues swiftly and amicably. Workplace productivity depends on the harmony of relationships within the team, and with you as the manager.

If you do not address employee issue/s quickly, they can become very disruptive to the rest of the team and productivity will go down. Disharmony is a great threat to a healthy workplace.

To create a harmonious, productive, and rewarding workplace, it is crucial that you discover, reduce, then monitor the employee issue/s that may be present in your workplace. One bad apple can spoil the workplace for everyone, including you, so act fast to resolve any employee issues. As a result, you will be seen as proactive and on top of the culture.

1. Getting started 

It is crucial you identify what the employee issue is and how you can approach it. The response to this question relies upon the dynamics of your organization and possibly your management style. Yes, the business your organization undertakes is going to determine the kind of employee issues that may be present in your work environment.

Being aware of what employee issue/s you and your personnel (as well as clients and visitors) are experiencing will help you know how best to approach the matter. The following is a list of ways you can identify and resolve employee issues in your workplace.

2. Document the issue or issues – Employee Issues in your Workplace

Document what you have identified as an employee issue. Draft out what employee issue you have identified, either with pen and paper or type it into a word document, use your diary or calendar to make note of specific days and times, to be clear.

Leave the notes for a few hours or days, if possible, and come back and reflect on them. In time, your emotional response will have reduced, and you will be able to view the issue more objectively.

Review your notes on the employee issue now that, you are calmer and more objective, and rewrite them. Consider the issue or issues again, with a new perspective, and decide the best way to approach the employee.

3. Conduct Research

If you have a well-versed knowledge of the best approach to dealing with employee issues appropriately, you will be able to identify the right strategy to handle the matter quickly and safely. It is ideal to research the best approach to employee issues, before commencing a discussion with the employee. That way you will have the full picture regarding the best approach to take with employee issues in your workplace.

4. Awareness – Employee Issues in your Workplace

It is important to make yourself aware of your rights and obligations to your employees under the Fair Work Act. The Fair Work Ombudsman provides online courses you can undertake to ensure you are aware of the law, and how to have difficult conversations and remain compliant with employment law.

Practice the conversation, record yourself and listen to how you sound. Preparation is the key to a successful discussion. Plan out the conversation and what you want to achieve by bringing to the employee their awareness about the issue. In planning out the steps of a difficult conversation, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Why is this an issue?
  • What are the steps in the discussion?
  • When do you want to see a change?
  • Who can help?
  • Where to from here?
  • How can you help?

5. Listen 

Listen to what the employee has to say, remain calm and unemotional. Just hear what the employee has to say. Really try to understand the employee’s point of view and what might be behind the issue. Make suggestions rather than defend, explore more, and ask for more detail rather than just comment or compete to make yourself right. Challenge assumptions in a supportive way to build the other person’s self-esteem rather than to make yourself right or look good. Thereby, you will be working to resolve the issues/s rather than arguing and making the situation worse.

6. Acknowledge – Employee Issues in your Workplace

Demonstrate that you have heard what the employee has said, by repeating it back as you understood it. If the employee wants to correct anything to clarify what they meant or intended, listen, and acknowledge what they have said and what you have understood.

Be someone the employee can bounce ideas off, help them clarify their thoughts and ideas.

Make sure you are not distracted by the phone or other visitors to your office, by letting the team know you are in an important meeting, and do not wish to be disturbed. This will allow you to focus on the other person and remain engaged.

7. Collaborate  

Once you have come to an understanding of the employee issue and they have understood your concerns. Agree what needs to happen next and how you will achieve the desired outcome. Together you can figure out the right solution to address the present issue and how and by when.

Set a timeline for a review of the issue and the steps that have been agreed to resolve it. Let the employee know that you will be putting this in writing and will provide a copy to them.

8. Take Action 

As soon as you have agreed the next actions, put it in writing and send the employee a copy. Follow up on your action plan and the timelines you agreed on. Reflect on how the discussion went, what went well and what could be improved for next time. If you did find yourself getting defensive, acknowledge it.

8 Steps to manage employee issues

Resolving workplace issues rather than ignoring them will result in a more productive, healthy and enjoyable workplace. Dealing with them without emotions running wild will help you and your health while putting an end to ongoing issues.

Common Employee Issues to Look Out for in your Workplace

There are numerous types of workplace employee issues grouped under four major categories:

Attitude: This is the most frequently encountered workplace employee issue, which includes aggression, lies, bullying and harassment, disrespect, and undermining.

Behaviour: Any harmful behaviour, such as, gossiping, backstabbing, de-stabilising, stirring up trouble, swearing, hostility, disrupting others work, being rude to customers, managers, and fellow employees, ignoring workplace safety procedures and so on.

Lateness: Regularly arriving late for work, making it hard for co-workers having to cover another person’s work as well as their own, becoming unreliable.

Absence from work: Repeatedly not attending work due to sickness, also known as absenteeism.

Written by Sonia King the founder of King Consulting HR Consultant and Mediation Expert. We provide cost effective HR Consultant, Mediation and Recruitment experts for businesses with our subscriptions, and ad hoc projects on employee issues.

This article links well with Mediation and Troubleshooting

Include the steps in the above article in your HR Strategy

Read 10 Ways to comply with FWA to find useful links and tips


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