Dealing with Difficult Employees

By Kathleen Pohlid Founder & Managing Member, Pohlid, PLLC | September 29, 2013

The problems difficult employees present can be varied. However, regardless of the problem - absenteeism, poor attitude, workplace harassment, unprofessional demeanor, rudeness, disrespect, or other unacceptable conduct – there are measures establishments can take to address the problem. Addressing employment problems can be a two-edge sword for employers, especially when there are concerns that the employee may assert that the disciplinary action taken against them was for an illegal reason or in retaliation for exercising a legal right.

While there is no guarantee to prevent employment legal action, there are measures employers can take to address problems involving difficult employees and minimize potential liability. Here are ten tips to do so:

1. Lay the Foundation Before You Hire

Every establishment should have equal employment opportunity (EEO) and standards of conduct policies that apply to all employees, work rules, and job descriptions setting forth the essential functions for each job. The best evidence of the existence of these measures is a written document. Establishing these policies before hiring is important because it puts employees on notice as to an employer’s expectation regarding employee conduct and performance expectations.

An employer’s commitment to EEO is an important measure to protect against liability involving discrimination and workplace harassment laws. At a minimum, an employer's EEO policy should express the employer’s commitment to equal employment opportunities for qualified employees and applicants regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status and other characteristic or status protected by federal, state and local laws. Since some states provide additional legal protections – such as protection based upon marital status and sexual orientation – establishments should consult with counsel in drafting their EEO policy.

The EEO policy must go beyond merely reciting the employer’s commitment to EEO. It must also address the following: (1) confirm that the policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment; (2) strongly communicate that discrimination and harassment regardless of the source will not be tolerated; (3) give assurance that employees will be protected against retaliation for reporting, objecting to, or making a complaint of harassment or discrimination, as well as, participating in complaint proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); (4) establish procedures for employees to effectively make complaints regarding violations of the Company’s EEO and standards of conduct policies; (5) provide assurance that the confidentiality of harassment complaints will be protected to the extent that it is possible to do so; and (6) provide assurance that immediate and appropriate corrective action will be taken to address discrimination and harassment. Employer procedures for reporting violations should provide employees with the ability to bypass supervisors or other persons who the employee contends violated or ignored company policies.

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.