Sometimes it’s difficult to remember why you hired some employees. Obviously they seemed to have something going for them during the hiring process, but it’s now difficult to see what it was. We’re talking about the sort of employees who seem to become “sick” more frequently than the average employee, who are likely to turn up to work barely in time to start the day (or may routinely walk into the office five or ten minutes late) and who don’t seem inclined to do more than the bare minimum necessary to perform their job.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get rid of deadbeat employees (especially if they are under contract and you don’t have an excellent reason for firing them). One of the most obvious qualities about these employees is their ability to walk the fine line between actually managing in their position and falling off the edge. They’re never quite bad enough to fire, but sometimes life would be much simpler if you could give them the flick, even though the process of hiring a new employee to fill their shoes would be inconvenient and even costly.
One of the biggest problems with deadbeat employees isn’t so much that they don’t pull their own weight (which is bad enough) but that they bring others down with them, by demoralising other employees and creating friction in the workplace. When resentment builds up in a team environment, it becomes unpleasant and unproductive for everyone.
The first step is to figure out what went wrong. Surely this employee, like most others, started out excited and motivated by the job? Sometimes it’s necessary to take the employee aside and actually talk to them. And by talk, we’re not talking about criticising, we’re talking about discussing. Find out how the employee feels about the job, and if there’s anything that’s been troubling them. It’s quite possible the problem stemmed from something that happened within the company (perhaps with a difficult manager, or a colleague the employee had a problem with).
If you can figure out why an employee behaves the way he or she does, you can work with them to rectify it. Is it possible to give them new responsibilities, perhaps transfer them to another division? If not, what else can be done to affect a positive change in their behaviour? Perhaps the employee feels he or she has been overlooked for too long and hasn’t been given the opportunity for promotion or advancement. Obviously their current behaviour and attitude isn’t going to get them what they need, but it’s possible that there was a time when the employee was a keen worker who tried their best but was overlooked (perhaps by a difficult manager who didn’t like them).
If this is the case, it may be possible to turn the employee’s attitude around, but it may take some time and effort (especially if there is resentment among the employee’s colleagues). It is sometimes best to see if a sideways shift in the company is appropriate, as giving the employee a fresh start can sometimes provide the impetus needed to change.