Posts Tagged ‘employee misbehavior’

When An Employee Has A Serious Complaint

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News & Observer column, The View from HR.

It happens in every workplace. The same serious and unlawful misbehavior we see in our communities sometimes find its way to the job.  People are the greatest asset of an employer but can be the “crabgrass in the lawn of business,” as my friend says.workplaceissues

What should happen when harassment, discrimination, abusive treatment and other serious misbehaviors rear their ugly heads?

Managers, please view a complaint as an opportunity to make a situation better AND the long-term relationship with the victim stronger. Psychologists in workplace studies say that an emotional crisis is a key point where your response can make the employee’s attitude much better OR much worse.  Some even say that the best predictor of whether a problem will end in a lawsuit is how fairly you process the problem, not the problem itself.

Good managers do several things. They embrace the complaint, rather than avoid it, and focus on finding the right solution.  Neither of you caused the problem, so let the chips fall where they may and avoid prejudgment.  You will create a much better investigation and solution if you remain neutral on the outcome.  If you cannot be objective, ask for help.

Follow through with good listening, appropriate pushback to the victim for the whole story, and appropriate speed and discretion. Take any quick steps needed to prevent repeat behavior while you work.  Ideally, keep the victim informed of your progress.  Get help from HR or a mentor.  Follow your company’s complaint process, at a minimum.  Precedent can be important to consider, but avoid a foolish consistency as the saying goes.

Employees making complaints have an equally important role. Follow the complaint policy if there is one, but skip to another manager you trust if needed.  Your manager wants to hear how you feel, but must have facts to investigate.  Focus on the facts.  Who can help support your story?  Bring the problem to a trusted manager sooner rather than later.

Be honest about any part you may have played in the problem or steps you have already taken, good and bad. Have some discretion and give this time to work.  What is your manager going to hear when he or she investigates?  For example, be prepared to hear some things about your performance you may not like (but need to hear) if work quality is an issue.

An important question that employees and managers often fail to ask is: “What is the ideal outcome here?”  I am often surprised at how reasonable employees can be even in serious situations.  They know employers cannot guarantee perfect behavior by all.  But they have the right to expect help when they seek it.

Solutions to early-stage problems handled properly by all can be simple and effective, preserving relationships and protecting careers. Problems that are buried like a bone in the backyard will only get worse with age.

Bruce Clarke c

Bruce Clarke serves as CAI’S President and CEO, and has been with CAI since 2001. Bruce practiced labor and employment law with the national labor law firm of Ogletree Deakins for 18 years. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as one of North Carolina’s Legal Elite by Business North Carolina Magazine. Bruce is 100% committed to helping companies maximize employee engagement and minimize workplace liabilities.

Most Bizarre Excuses for Calling in Sick Revealed in CareerBuilder Survey

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Whether it’s to take a quick vacation, lay in bed all day, or run errands around town, it appears more workers are calling in to take a sick day this year than last. A new survey of more than 2,300 HR managers and 3,300 employees, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Career Builder, has found that 38 percent of employees have called in sick when they actually feel well, up from last year’s 28 percent.

So what was the excuse as to why these employees couldn’t ‘make it into work’? Most of them run the gamut of normalcy, with 27 percent citing a doctor’s appointment as their reason, 21 percent saying they needed to catch up on sleep, and 12 percent blaming bad weather.

A few excuses, however, stand out among the rest.

When asked what the strangest excuse they had heard from employees calling in sick, managers listed the following unlikely tales:

  • Employee claimed his grandmother poisoned him with ham
  • Employee was stuck under the bed
  • Employee said the universe was telling him to take the day off
  • Employee poked herself in the eye while combing her hair
  • Employee was going to the beach because her doctor said she needed more Vitamin D

These employees’ stories certainly raise a few eyebrows, including those of their managers. Of the managers polled in the study, 33 percent admitted to checking in to see if an employee was telling the truth after calling in sick. So how did they investigate these tall tales? By going online.

Social media leaves trails of bread crumbs that are quite easy to track, and it appears employers are making use of it to ensure their employees are being honest.

According to the survey, 33 percent of managers have caught their employees lying about being sick by checking their social media accounts. Of that share of managers, 26 percent fired the employee for their dishonesty.

Whether it’s finding a photo on Facebook of an employee lounging on the beach while he claimed to be at the doctor’s office getting medicine for a bad cold, or tracking down an employee’s Tweets about the rock music festival she attended the day she maintains to have had a pounding migraine, social media is making it easier than ever to ensure employees are making honest use of their sick days.

The study found that 22 percent of employers have fired an employee this year for calling in sick with a fake excuse, up from last year’s 18 percent.

While it is important to respect your employees’ privacy, it’s also imperative that employers can determine whether their employees are being honest with them. Managers shouldn’t be investigating their employees’ every move, but would ultimately be doing themselves and their business a disservice by letting some of these more bizarre excuses for skipping out on work slip out from under their radar.

To read more about the survey, click here. For any further questions about what steps your business can take to protect itself from possible employee dishonesty regarding sick days, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Preventing Nursing Assistant Misbehavior

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

There has been quite a bit of research done on employee misbehavior or misconduct.  Locally, Drs. Bill Tullar and Ken Wexley have been doing specific research on the misbehavior of nursing assistants.

They have classified misbehavior into four categories:

  1. Production deviance – includes behaviors that waste time and resources.
  2. Property deviance – involves either theft or destruction of facility or residents’ property.
  3. Normative deviance – generally involves talk that hurts or belittles others.
  4. Personal aggression – mostly involves hitting, fighting, or sexual harassment.

These behaviors on the part of nursing assistants cost hospitals and nursing homes large amounts of money.  Moreover, they represent a very real legal liability – can the facility prove in court that it exercised due diligence to prevent misbehavior that has bad consequences for residents?

What is to be done?  There are two basic approaches management can use to lessen or mitigate these problems.  First, more careful selection methods should be used to assess candidates before they are hired.  The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, but misbehavers are those least likely to report their past behavior voluntarily.  Thus, it is necessary to go beyond simply asking job applicants about what they have done in the past.

Second, there are management processes and procedures that can be used to minimize the opportunity for misbehavior on the job.  These include, but are not limited to, careful control of access to the drug cabinet, supervision at certain times of the day, and clear policies for employees of the consequences for their misbehavior.

Let us examine selection issues first.  Background screens are indispensible for proper selection, and many facilities already require them.  But assessments of basic skills, personality, attitudes, values and motivation are also essential.  Some of these can be assessed by well-designed interviews, but others can only be measured by psychological testing.

Realistic job previews may also be helpful in weeding out those who are not temperamentally suited to the job.  While there is some basic nursing knowledge that nursing assistants must have, it is generally not lack of knowledge that causes them to misbehave on the job.  Administrators may object, saying that such selection procedures are tedious and time consuming, but proper due diligence in selection is well worth the time and effort.

With regard to management of misbehavior once the nursing assistant is on the job, there is no substitute for effective training.  The basic values and expectations of the facility should be communicated to candidates from the very first encounter.  All recruiting literature should feature values and norms of the facility prominently.  Orientation training should reiterate these norms and values.

A session on expectations and disciplinary procedures should be included in the early training of the new hire.  Management should maintain a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol abuse, physical or verbal abuse, and sexual harassment.  Cases of these violations that occur should be made public, and the discipline outlined in the training manuals should be followed carefully and as publicly as possible.  Supervisors should know that when they report misbehavior that they are just doing their job.

Misbehavior by nursing assistants can have catastrophic consequences for any nursing facility.  It is important that management be able to show that they have exercised every possible precaution to prevent such things from happening.  While such precautions do not guarantee that misbehavior will not happen, they will limit its frequency, severity and legal consequences.  An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.

To learn more about setting up effective hiring processes and orientation training to prevent nursing assistant misbehaviors, please contact Kevin von der Lippe at (919) 878-9222, (336) 899-1150 or  In addition to the special assessment tools for screening Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Kevin will be happy to talk to you about CAI’s background checking services.

Photo Source: Otisarchives4