Some Employees Are More Trouble Than They Are Worth

Some employees cost your company far more than they contribute. So why keep them?

Do you retain employees long after they have worn out their welcome? If so, you are not alone. Many organizations underestimate the damage these employees can do to the organization. They wrongfully assume that these employees don’t have a direct impact on profitability, but is this really the case?

Impact on morale

Problem employees are highly skilled at hiding out. When problems occur they are the first to place blame on others. They are experts at deflecting criticism. They make conversations so uncomfortable that managers would rather work around them then deal with them.

When this occurs, assignments are given to others in the work group without explanation. Resentment builds as team members put in long hours to handle the extra workload. Dazed and confused, the star workers begin to search for signs of intelligent life on other planets since it’s obvious to them that management has left the ship.

Cost of turnover

Ever notice how one department seems to have higher turnover than another? If you answered “yes” then ask yourself why nothing is done to correct this situation. If your company doesn’t do anything to fix the situation, your employees will take the matter into their own hands. Employees are in a no win situation when saddled with one or two team mates who refuse to pull their own weight. Most bale out rather than wait for management to finally make a move.

Turnover can be measured in a number of ways but the end result is the same. Real dollars are being spent to replace and retrain employees. Add to this indirect costs like loss of client relationships; the decline of employee morale and chain reaction turnover and you can see how quickly costs add up.

Dissatisfied customers

Dissatisfied customers will move their business elsewhere and may never tell you why. But they will surely tell others of their situation. In today’s fast paced world, mediocrity is not an option. Problem employees must be dealt with in a timely manner or business will be seeping out the back door.


Five ways to address problem employees:

When an employee performs poorly or makes a serious error it is tempting to replace them like an interchangeable part on an assembly line. Here are five things you should do before ordering up a replacement:

1. Determine if it’s a system problem or a training problem. Employers are quick to assume that problems are due to lack of training. But often problems exist due to systems problems. For example, no amount of customer service training can compensate for a poorly designed phone system. Make sure your systems are in working order before spending additional money on retraining problem employees.

2. Review the job expectations with the employee. It’s impossible for an employee to know what is expected of them if they are never told. Give employees direct feedback. Tell them what you expect and how performance will be measured.

3. Be consistent and follow through. If you tell an employee that they have 90 days to turn their performance around then don’t wait six months to evaluate their performance. Mark your calendar and follow up as necessary to provide guidance.

4. Hold managers accountable. Managers are compensated on results, which often do not take into account how well they manage and motivate staff members. If a manager is doing a poor job of managing performance then hold them accountable.

5. Determine if the problem employee is fixable. Sometimes it comes down to fit. You’ve got a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. When this occurs, it is usually obvious to both parties. Help guide the employee out of the organization by setting up an exit transition plan.

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