Troubled by back-to-work misconduct? Here’s what you can do

People are returning to workspaces, and you might be noticing some teething pains. So, what’re the best methods when dealing with misconduct?

First published on Thursday, Aug 19, 2021

Last updated on Wednesday, Sep 08, 2021

4 min read

Whether it’s the return to an established routine or more for the social aspect, some employees will be delighted to get back to the workplace. But as employees readjust to their return to work, you could notice one or two conduct issues arising.

Maybe the employees aren’t following health & safety protocols, maybe they’d rather work remotely, or maybe they’re just being generally uncooperative.

Whatever the reasons for an employee misconduct, it’s important that you address the heart of the issue and support them where you can.

Approaching unhappy employees

The best practice here is straightforward: approach your unhappy employee and talk through their concerns openly and honestly.

Try to get them to open-up about the real reasons they’re angry or uncooperative. This will give you the chance to investigate the issue informally and show the employee you hear their concerns. It may also lead to resolution, especially if their issue is something you can help with, like concerns around workplace health & safety.

Potential peeves

After the last 18 months, there’s bound to be several reasons why some employees are not quite themselves after returning to the workplace, not least because…

Many employees prefer remote working

In a recent Angus Reid survey on the working preferences of Canadians post-lockdown, 66% of the participants said they’d like to work in hybrid model. So…it might be time to consider ‘hybrid’ working. Just a thought.

With hybrid working, employees can split their time between the office and home. If you’re happy to accommodate this kind of flexibility, it creates a better work-life balance and, crucially, may improve satisfaction for employees.

COVID-19 concerns

Sadly, we’re not yet at the stage where COVID-19 isn’t a feature of our blogs. Naturally, one of the most common worries employees have when getting back to work is contracting COVID-19. Bear in mind that many employees may also have caring responsibilities or children at home to consider, too.

In this instance, a little reassurance goes a long way. Inform your employees about the health and safety protocols you’ve put in place to ensure a COVID-secure work environment.

You may also want to ask for their feedback on the existing measures. In doing so, the risks they’re concerned about can be highlighted and addressed.

You may also have employees with serious health conditions. In this scenario, it might be worth allowing them to work remotely to ease their worries—or at least consult them about their preferred way of working.

Employee misconduct and the 'D' word

Despite your best efforts, sometimes issues go a bit further and disciplinary action may have to be considered. For times like that, you’ll need foolproof misconduct and disciplinary procedures.

It’s vital that the disciplinary process is treated with a balanced and consistent manner. On the one hand, employees may be experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety. On the other, their behaviour may be interfering with the business operations or the wellbeing of other staff.

Informal methods are a great first option, but where they fail, or where the misconduct is severe or persistent, it’s reasonable to take disciplinary action. Following the process as set out in your employee handbook will be essential.

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