Wellbeing in the Workplace

by Laura Rennie

Is managing employee behaviour and their wellbeing making you sick?

There is so much conflicting information out there and so many people are scared about getting it wrong. Employers are feeling overwhelmed when managing medical situations that they are not fully trained to deal with. They’re also scared to make ‘innocent’ comments in case they come back and cause damage.

Red tape and more red tape!

I dealt with a disciplinary hearing recently. After hearing all of the evidence, conducting a thorough investigation, following advice and having good HR support in place, the employer made the difficult decision to dismiss the employee. On the balance of probability, the employee had been found in serious breach of a number of key policies and procedures, including the company’s code of ethics and an allegation of potential fraud.

The employee’s attitude was ‘so what, I’ll get another job’ which was so hard to witness. But I was more upset for the employer. The employee knew the truth of the situation whereas the employer could only go on what he reasonably believed had happened. The employer had spent months and months trying to support and develop the employee. Prior to the hearing, all different angles had been considered, taking into account the wellbeing of the employee, their medical information, personality style, and learning type. Everything was thought of.

After the hearing, the employer turned to me and said: “I’ve been worried sick about this case. I’ve been up all night thinking about this hearing. I tried and tried to do the right thing but was so scared I’d get it wrong. I can’t believe it came to this.”

The bottom line was, that in these circumstances, the employer had done absolutely everything reasonably possible to support his employee. The employee had two things asked of them – come to work, and do their job. But they couldn’t do either consistently or regularly. With the application of Good Practice and Employment Legislation (and trying to be a decent person) the employer had tried everything but nothing seemed to work. And there comes a time when, if you know as an employer that your moral compass is pointing in the right direction, and that you have done everything reasonably possible for you and your business, then hard decisions have to be made. I once heard someone say that the right decision is often the hardest. This is so true.

For your information, that employee has already picked up another role and I’m sure it will be the right one for them. They weren’t a bad employee, just a bad fit for the company.

So, in the future, when you’re dealing with something that’s keeping you up at night with worry, ask yourself the following:

Are you doing this for the right reasons?

Are you unable to sustain the status quo?

Are you being reasonable (would you be happy with a loved one being treated the same way you are treating this person)?

Are you following your own policies?

Before I go, I want to highlight another recent case. London South Tribunal found in the favour of an ASDA employee who didn’t have his complaint taken seriously when he was ‘kneed in the backside’ by another colleague. The Tribunal found that this was a case of direct discrimination by ASDA as the gender of the employee was ‘relevant’ (the backside was part of the body that would be associated with a sexual act, while a slap around the head, perhaps would not). It does raise the question that if the person being kneed in the backside had been female, would ASDA have treated it with more importance?

More information about this case can be found at www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1828132/male-supermarket-worker-kneed-bottom-female-colleague-victim-direct-discrimination-tribunal-rules
Be careful out there. Do your best and keep your moral compass pointing to honesty.

Next time, I’ll consider the latest tribunal findings that are keeping us all on our toes.

In the meantime, if anyone has any specific issues please reach out to me.

Enjoy the rest of the magazine and keep #doingHRright