A perfect workplace might include clear communication among employees, fairness, and success as a team. However, problem employees threaten to derail company goals, and are not always avoidable. This falls primarily under the responsibilities of the Human Resources department to address and handle the situation, which can be very time consuming, and can slow productiveness. Properly managing these difficult employees is key in preventing them from negatively affecting business, and establishing an appropriate workplace environment.

Recognize the Issue

Problem employees tend to make up a very small portion of a company’s workforce, but their consistent issues manage to consume a significant amount of time whether they are disgruntled, apathetic, or distrusting. While most reveal themselves as difficult fairly early on, some problem employees are able to effectively work the system to their advantage. Identify how this employee is acting, and document his or her daily actions to recognize the issue at hand.

Consider All Factors

When working in Human Resources, you should always be up to speed on your company’s practices and policies. Consider the fact that this problem employee may be displeased with a specific aspect of business and is acting accordingly. Review your company’s employee handbook, benefits, treatment of employees, and general environment for example. Any one of these may contribute to this problem employee’s reasoning for behaving in a negative manner, and changing that aspect of business may provide a solution.

Establish Clear Policies

When dealing with an employee who may have attendance, disciplinary, or performance issues, it is best to clearly outline and police rules and guidelines that he or she should be following. Implementing performance reviews is an effective way to promote enthusiasm in one’s work, while also addressing those who fail to meet certain quotas. Setting up a disciplinary process for someone who may be underperforming can motivate them to improve as well.


It is very important to record every case of a problem employee presenting an issue with accuracy and fairness. When firing said employee is the only option, clear information and examples as to why their employment is being terminated can prevent the process from escalating into a courtroom. Beforehand, be sure to give fair warning to those who are posing as problems in the workplace. Along with performance reviews, disciplinary memos are important documents in fairly recording instances of inadequacy or underperformance.

While problem employees are sometimes unavoidable, competent hiring and training techniques can prevent them from negatively affecting your business. Be sure to provide concise job descriptions to lay out the responsibilities before an employee is hired, setting a foundation for individual success. Just one problem employee can affect the production and achievements of an entire team.