In the many hundreds of employment cases we handle common issues arise which cause problems for employers.  We see the same mistakes in process being repeated over and over, resulting in much wasted time, emotional turmoil and financial cost.

The most common problems are:

1.      Hiring

Not getting the right fit.  You can teach skills, but you cannot teach fit.  If the employee is not the right fit for your organisation, then you are much better off without them.

Check references thoroughly and ask detailed questions of referees.  Don’t accept shallow answers, dig deeper to find out why.

2.      Performance

How to get the level of performance acceptable to you?

Communication is key.  Talk to people early to check that they really do understand what you expect.

Measure things and don’t let things slide.  If performance is not up to it, then let them know what needs improvement.  Talk also about what they do well. Set standards that can be measured. Be consistent in what you expect.

Arrange further training, support and resources.

Measure progress and communicate any progress or lack of it.

3.      Discipline

Deal with it early.  A relationship based on bad behaviour is not worth preserving.

Follow a proper process.  Tell them what is alleged.

Advise regarding having a support person.

Give them a reasonable opportunity to prepare and respond.

Fairly consider responses.  Don’t  jump to conclusions, but actually investigate what occurred.

Reach conclusions based on facts.

Communicate those conclusions and seek input into outcomes.

Choose an outcome that fits the circumstances. Should it be a verbal warning, a written warning, a final warning, a permanent warning, demotion, dismissal on notice or dismissal without notice. Be fair and consistent.

4.      Restructuring

Decide what the proposed new structure is.

Communicate that proposal and seek feedback.

Give a reasonable opportunity to respond - do not rush and do not dawdle - both are unfair and unreasonable.

Consider feedback with an open mind.

Do not use a restructure to deal with performance or discipline issues.  It must be genuine.

5.      Long Term & Recurring Sickness

How long can you and others carry them?

Have they used all available leave?

Have you obtained medical reports as to their ability to return to work?

Set out a timetable for partial/full return to work.

Measure progress.  Seek their input.

If appropriate make the hard call that is necessary.


You are expected to act as a fair and reasonable employer could act in the circumstances. Is the process you are following fair? Is it one you would be happy with, if it was imposed on one of your loved ones?