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Employee Trouble..... Need Help.

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As most people know, I own a mainstream business outside of the escort industry. 

 

I am having some trouble with an employee since the pandemic hit and I don’t really know what to do about it. Well I do, but I am having a hard time with it and I guess I am looking for other options.

 

So here is the story,

 

When the pandemic hit, we went totally remote. It was pretty easy for me based on my line of work. I saw an upswing in contracts and it was good. Everyone was able to get onboard with the work and zoom and all the stuff I changed to remote working except one employee. Which made no sense really because we are all tech savvy, we need to be, but this employee took awhile to get with program, often siting internet issues. Modem this, speed that, blah, blah, blah. Finally they get all that fixed. No more issues.

 

Then we go back to the office part time, things are ok, but on days that this employee is not in the office, work is not getting done. Deadlines are not being met. To counter this, I changed all deadline dates to correspond with that employees in-office days. 

 

COVId numbers started rising again, so I went back to total remote working a few weeks ago and this employee has now gone back to missing deadlines. Saying they are working on it, but often have not being able to be reached. If they are available, it is at the end of the day and then the famous line is “First thing in the morning, I will finish.” I often don’t get the work until 5 minutes before the end of the next day, not in the morning and the last two times, it as been the morning but the day after. 

 

This employee handles a niche part of our business. Something that was actually created just for them. Something I can do without in the business personally but we have clients now that will need this maintained. Which I can learn the basics, but if something major happens, I can’t do anything. I would have to hire out.

 

I’m already struggling with keeping our reception since I am not renewing my office lease. We have all been successful at remote working, I am transitioning to total remote working from now on. It saves me money in the long run and I find all the other employees actually work better. My basement will become the new ”office” for filing, etc and I can host meetings at home if need be once the pandemic is over. So I won’t be needing our receptionist any longer. I am trying to find them a new position to keep them employed with me. 

 

But this part- time slacking, pain in my butt is going to completely slack off now and I know it. I don’t want to be an ass and fire this person right after Christmas, during a pandemic and when there is no new help from the government except regular EI now. I mean CERB was not as much as their salary but it was more then EI I believe. 

 

Is there a way to motivate an employee that maybe I am missing? Remote work has really changed the employee/employer dynamic. Some of the usual techniques don’t seem to be working. 

 

Anyone got an idea so I don’t have to this person? 

 

 

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     Having a conversation with that employee would be a good first step. Ask questions related to job performance to learn if personal, family, health or other problems are interfering with his/her capacity to work. If you can identify a cause, you can give time to get his/her life in order. But if only laziness or lack of interest, it could be a good time to look for someone more motivated to get the job done.

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Unfortunately,  the real world usually doesn't  tolerate lazy work ethics. I would give this person a warning to get him on his toes. There is a pattern here, and he is not likely to change without the fear of loosing his job.

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I'm no expert in employment law (or management, for that matter). But...

First thing to do is talk to them. You have to let them know that their performance is way below expectations, tell them what you expect, and between you come up with a remediation plan to get them doing what you need from them. And in that conversation you also need to make it very clear that this is the beginning of a process that, if it doesn't result in improvement, will result in them losing their job. And keep a record of that conversation, and send a summary/minutes of it to them afterwards so that they have a record of it too. It may be that there are good reasons for their problems as Greenteal mentioned, and this also gives them a good opportunity to tell you that (and you should perhaps ask, so that they can't claim they were never given the chance to tell you...) It sounds like you've done a lot of this informally already - the point here is to kick off a formal, documented process.

With luck, that will be enough. If not, I'd suggest you get professional advice on employment law to see what you need to do to fire someone for cause. It's doable, but there's a process to follow - you may have to give people formal verbal and then written warnings, and you'll have to document what they're doing wrong and give them an adequate opportunity to correct the issue. But you'd need advice from a lawyer on this one.

You might also want to think about hiring someone to "help" your problem employee with their work, with a view to that person becoming their replacement if need be. You might then be able to make the problem employee redundant as part of a formal layoff (even if it was a layoff of one) which probably doesn't require the same level of formal process to do it. But again, you'd want someone who actually knows employment law in your jurisdiction to advise you on this.

HTH. Good luck!

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Motivating a remote employee who isn't doing well working remotely is difficult. 

 

First, you gotta have a frank discussion with them and find out what's going on.  Mention the missed deadlines when working remotely vs in the office.  Ask probing questions as to why they think it's happening.  

 

Stay away from negative language as much as possible.   Focus on the "wanting to get to the bottom of the issue so that you can help" aspect. 

 

Get them to tell you why.  There's always a reason.  Most common I've found with new remote workers are 

 

- not having a private workspace at home

- not having a comfortable workspace at home 

- time management

- setting expectations with them.

 

If they are unable to come up with an actual reason then it's time to start down the path of performance management - probably leading to the employment ending.

 

Good luck! 

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I've been in business many years as well, and I've been guilty of keeping people around far longer than I should have. Sometimes out of compassion, sometimes because it is simply the easiest option. I've learned something over the years though. You owe it to the people who are doing their job properly and putting in the effort to not let it continue. Nothing kills morale more quickly than watching a coworker coast through without any repercussions. (They are likely already resentful for having to carry the extra weight.)

I hope this doesn't sound too cold, but the best thing you can do for the rest of your team is to let this person go. They need to know that their hard work is appreciated. You can try talking to this person first if it makes you feel better, but again, from my experience, the best you can hope for is a temporary effort before they fall back into old habits. I think you already know what needs to be done.

It's the worst part of being an employer, but failing to do it when necessary can have larger repercussions than you realize. 

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I have considerable experience with remote workers and ran a HR shop for a very large organization for 10 years.

1. When staff change to remote work ensure you have clear performance expectations in place.  If that is not in place for your employee put it in place.  So the person cannot claim harassment it's best to have for all employees.

2. Meet with the employee and clearly outline where he is not meeting expectations.  Ask him if he has everything he needs to meet those expectation if he says yes set a clear time frame for him to meet expectation and tell him the consequences of not meeting expectation within the time frame ie termination.

3. Ask the employee if he understands both the expectations and the consequences. 

4. Confirm the conversation in writing with the employee and have them sign it and return a copy.

5. During the time frame setup check back with the employee at an appropriate interval and provide feedback.

6. Once the time frame is up meet with employee if they are still not substantially meeting expectations tell them you are terminating the employment.

Now having said all that if the work being done is no longer critical or important for your organization lay the employee off without cause and pay the required notice payment.  If this worker will not be replaced by someone doing the same work he would not have any cause for action.

If you would like to talk about this more send me a private message.

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Well today is the big talk, Wish me luck.

 

Thanks to all who have responded. I will come back and update with all the things I am going to change. 

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Ok so the update

 

First, I am glad I didn’t just fire him out right and I am glad that I talked with him.

 

The internet problems where true. I believe that.

 

The problem with working at home apparently is two women who consistently ask for things during the day.

 

Since the pandemic, his MIL moved in so that she can be cared for as she is elderly and they did not want her in LTC. I get that.

 

He is the only one to go outside, unless it is for their daily walk. So he has to do all the shopping, and anything else dealing with outside the home. He had to arrange the entire move of his MIL on his own. Only his brother was allowed to help move. There was a list of other things he gave examples of. Like cleaning out the garage and small home repairs and renos to make wife and MIL happy. They would insist that he do this during the day when they are awake and would keep saying that he can do his work ”later” as in doing it in the evening. Which his says he tries to do but by the end of the day he is exhausted.

 

I get his issue, but of course I need work done when I need it done. He says he is going to have a talk with his wife and tell her his job is now on the line. He wants me to actually email him about it so he can show it to his wife. Which I would have done anyway for record keeping, but hopefully it works.

 

So the plan;

 

We are coming up with a check-in reporting system. Something like a punch clock but different to accommodate our business.

He is creating a dedicated office space where he can close the door and let the women know that means do not disturb for any reason other then death or fire.

He is going to train the receptionist with the basics and she is going to obtain proper education to learn everything properly. She is interested in the field.

For all employees, yearly salary increases are based on a performance review. Not just given because it is the end of the year.

Weekly progress reports will now be required which will be given in in-person meetings weekly when the pandemic is over. For now it will be remote over zoom and email.

 

For him, we will be doing bi-weekly reviews until I am sure we have his remote working under control. His yearly performance review is in April. I have explained that one more missed deadline will mean he doesn’t even make to that yearly review. He understand and accepts this.

 

It is hard because I understand his problem. He understands my position. I don’t want to fire him, he doesn’t want to lose his job. We work well together. When we are working. It just seems like the women in his life need to stop taking advantage of him and me. I am not paying him to move MIL into the house.

 

I know to some this may sound like I went soft on him. And maybe I did, but I feel for him. And I need him still until my receptionist, who will have a new title soon, is able to take over the job. Which won’t be for awhile. So I hope he is able to seriously convey to his wife how serious this is. If I have to, I will fire him and outsource temporarily.

 

Anyway, I wish I knew if he hobbies. I would gift him a session with a woman of his choosing. He really sounds like he needs it. 

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@Jenesis I think you've handled this challenge well and I hope it resolves positively for both you and your employee.

4 hours ago, Jenesis said:

Something like a punch clock but different to accommodate our business.

This comment reminded me of this song - the lyric "...gonna punch that time clock till it can't ring....... cause no one's gonna fold bend or mutilate me.."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsDkmVo2fg4

Harkens back to delivering long files on Fortran punch cards down snowy Ottawa sidewalks to the GSC mainframe computer :)

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Thanks for the update! Good to know that things are on the road to resolution, one way or another. It sounds like you've handled it pretty well.

One further bit of unsolicited advice: I think it's great that he's asked you to send him an email that he can show to the wife/MIL. It might actually be worth sending two; one for just him that accurately reflects the situation, and another than he can use for domestic propaganda purposes (you might want to leave some stuff out of the second). I'm speculating here, but it's possible that the wife/MIL could react badly if they knew he'd told you what was going on. Also, that second one could be repeated/reinforced if he needs it. What might happen is that he'll be OK for a bit until the shock wears off, and then he'll be asked to do "just one little thing", and then another, and before you know it he's right back where he is now. If he needs more ammunition to get them off his back again, let him know you can supply it :)

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On 1/5/2021 at 7:23 PM, Phaedrus said:

Thanks for the update! Good to know that things are on the road to resolution, one way or another. It sounds like you've handled it pretty well.

One further bit of unsolicited advice: I think it's great that he's asked you to send him an email that he can show to the wife/MIL. It might actually be worth sending two; one for just him that accurately reflects the situation, and another than he can use for domestic propaganda purposes (you might want to leave some stuff out of the second). I'm speculating here, but it's possible that the wife/MIL could react badly if they knew he'd told you what was going on. Also, that second one could be repeated/reinforced if he needs it. What might happen is that he'll be OK for a bit until the shock wears off, and then he'll be asked to do "just one little thing", and then another, and before you know it he's right back where he is now. If he needs more ammunition to get them off his back again, let him know you can supply it 🙂

 

I already did up two. One for his professional file which is lighter then he one I wrote for his wife/MIL. Nothing was mentioned about his home life in the one to his wife except for the internet stuff, but only to start a timeline of the missed work. 

 

I did tell him that this was the last I was willing to do this. I don’t want to actually get involved anymore. I am still his boss and have to remain somewhat distance. Writing this email for his wife is a one off. If this keeps going and the wife doesn’t get the hint, then I have no choice but to be boss and let him go. 

 

I wish I could do more but I have to weigh the pros and cons of my business. 

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1 hour ago, Jenesis said:

I wish I could do more but I have to weigh the pros and cons of my business. 

That's fair enough. What it comes down to as much as anything is how much you really *want* to keep him, and there will always be a limit.

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@Jenesis I admire your patience and compassion working together with this employee.  It's unfortunate as we have become a remote virtual workplace, some staff have situations they need to adapt to ( especially home with a family, it arises new challenges not typical in an office)

I am not sure of your line of work, do you use salesforce or time management software for staff to clock in/out? 

I would recommend Proofhub as I found it very effective for managing tasks.

Either way good luck with the employee and best of luck on your business!

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On 1/5/2021 at 9:42 AM, Jenesis said:

It just seems like the women in his life need to stop taking advantage of him and me. I am not paying him to move MIL into the house.

You hit the nail on the head! My first thought after reading your post was exactly that. You do not pay this man to do chores around the house. What is his wife doing to help?

You are a kind boss.

The second I felt the need to switch my deadlines around for an employee would be the second I would question if retaining them was necessary.

I was going to offer the suggestion of asking him to perform work while monitored through Zoom but it seems you've already thought of that.

I adore posts like this and certainly hope anyone who provided feedback didn't mind my eavesdropping!

If a sister wife is needed... haha 💋

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12 hours ago, HenryOcean said:

@Jenesis I admire your patience and compassion working together with this employee.  It's unfortunate as we have become a remote virtual workplace, some staff have situations they need to adapt to ( especially home with a family, it arises new challenges not typical in an office)

I am not sure of your line of work, do you use salesforce or time management software for staff to clock in/out? 

I would recommend Proofhub as I found it very effective for managing tasks.

Either way good luck with the employee and best of luck on your business!

I just started looking into that type of software for clocking in/out. Being salary based, I never thought I would need it for my employees but after this, I am going to be starting it. 

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