10 tell-tale signs and tips that you need to address employee issues

Nicki Robson, the Managing Director of Breedon Consulting is often asked to talk about ‘the snowball effect’ which occurs when organisations leave employee issues unaddressed. It is a serious, and potentially costly problem, adding yet more stress for those owners and managers who constantly need to reduce avoidable expenditure.

According to the findings of XPertHR’s Absence Rates and Costs Survey, published in May 2019, it is estimated that sickness absence alone is costing the average UK business £573 per employee. This figure is believed to be a significant underestimation as it does not account for the additional expense of organising replacements. It also fails to consider the negative effects on the productivity of other team members which in itself can add to more absenteeism.

With the seriousness of the issue (and the significant costs which a business can incur) in mind, we have compiled a list of the warning signs which employers need to watch out for to avoid longer term problems:

10 tell-tale signs that you need to address employee issues

You may start to notice: –

  • A noticeable drop off in performance – either in quality or in quantity 
  • Increased absence levels – possibly with a pattern, perhaps even increased GP appointments 
  • A noticeable change in attitude – more challenging, less pleasant or even aggressive
  • Persistent lateness – possibly just a few minutes each time, but compounding
  • Long periods of time spent away from the workstation – an increase in unofficial breaks 
  • A general lack of communication – with managers, colleagues or other stakeholders
  • Continuous failure to meet agreed targets – be they deadlines, KPI’s or SLA’s 
  • A tendency to ‘do their own thing’ – blatantly refusing to follow rules or procedures 
  • An unwillingness to get involved – staying in the background rather than participating
  • An overwhelming sense that the person ‘just doesn’t fit’- with the team, culture or ethos

At Breedon Consulting it’s all about solutions, and that’s why we are trusted by our clients to be their dedicated HR services provider. We strive to resolve minor issues before they grow into a situation which is more difficult to handle and before the negative effects creep through the organisation. 

The following tips (whilst by no means an exhaustive list of recommended actions) are just some of the basic things which we would use as a starting point for protecting yourself and your business. Our experience has shown that even the simplest of these can be easily overlooked when everything is running smoothly. Unfortunately, by the time that the difficulties become obvious, things move downhill at an alarming pace… Just like that snowball gathering momentum.

 Top 10 Tips to address minor issues and avoid future problems

  • Use probationary periods properly – track and review performance of new starters 
  • Monitor absence levels carefully – carry out return to work interviews for all absences and don’t be afraid to manage absence, even long term sickness 
  • Make performance expectations clear – KPI’s and SLA’s should be discussed and agreed 
  • Keep notes of all discussions – even if informal, an email to confirm the main points of discussion will ensure a record is made 
  • Carry out regular performance reviews – this may be via 1-2-1’s, but discussions must be relevant and reflect reality 
  • Don’t avoid difficult conversations – whether it is to iron out problems or to show support to staff: the longer it is left, the more difficult it becomes 
  • Make sure policies and procedures are relevant and current – one size does not fit all so check the suitability and keep documents up to date 
  • Strictly follow your policies and procedures – and avoid falling foul of the law 
  • Help employees perform better – make a real effort upon their behalf, illustrating ‘why’ as well as ‘what’
  • Be fair and consistent – to all, at all times

At Breedon Consulting, we understand that day-to-day business can be complicated enough without needing to be experts in every aspect of employee management and HR, but sadly we also understand that failure to avoid the pitfalls can be costly, in terms of both time and money. Staff turnover is estimated to cost British businesses in excess of £4 Billion per annum and the majority of this turnover is avoidable when the right processes are put in place.

We have a joined up approach to the aspects of employment which can cause the most concern (and stress) to employers. Our comprehensive HR, Recruitment and Learning & Development services make sure that we can help you identify potential issues, minimise negative impact to your business and find solutions that work for everyone.

If you would like to learn more around this topic, or to receive a free HR review, get in touch with a member of the Breedon team.