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Your employees just don’t get on – what can you do?

It crops up reasonable regularly here at myHRdept, where one client or another reports that a couple of their employees are not getting on

It crops up reasonable regularly here at myHRdept, where one client or another reports that a couple of their employees are not getting on, and it’s causing a bad atmosphere.

So what’s to be done?  We don’t have to like everyone we work with, but we do have to behave professionally and respectfully towards them, and that is a wholly reasonable expectation we can have of each and every employee.  Where this isn’t the case, action needs to be taken and the earlier the better. The following steps are nearly always sensible:

  • Talk to the employees, individually at first, tell them what you’re seeing, the problems it is causing and ask for an explanation – why are they not getting along – was it an incident, or something more general than that?
  • Be transparent, let both employees know that you’ll be speaking with the other
  • Try to gain an agreement from each that they will behave professionally
  • Then meet the employees together to obtain a joint agreement

In some cases it might also be necessary to issue both employees with the Dignity at Work policy and require them to read it, sign it and return a signed copy to you. Whilst some might think this to be a tad theatrical the act of signing a declaration does have an effect. In some cases you might also think about writing to them both a ‘letter of concern’ – this is not a warning, but a step before one – if the behaviour continues, a formal disciplinary process may follow. (myHRdept drafts letters & suitable policies for its clients as a standard part of services.)

If the informal intervention doesn’t work then we may have to consider other actions – this could be mediation (myHRdept has an ACAS trained mediator) or formal disciplinary action against one or both employees. We might also consider moving one or another to a different team (being careful not to unfairly select one over the other) or even consider, after due warnings, the dismissal of one or, rarely, both of them.

This kind of dismissal might be conduct related, or in the absence of actual misconduct it might be another category of dismissal known as a ‘some other substantial reason’ (SOSR) dismissal, which may sound a little odd, but is a legally recognised category. Under an SOSR an employee may be dismissed (if a fair process is followed of course) with notice for, in this case, failing to be able to maintain a professional working relationship with a colleague leading to loss of business performance/efficiency etc. The employee should always be allowed to appeal. 

If you're thinking of outsourcing your HR why not contact myhrdept.co.uk. With outsourced HR packages from only £140 per month (and from as little as £80 per month for start-ups) and support for one off HR issues too, we believe we offer the best combination of quality and price available in the UK. Call us on 01628 820515 to discuss your requirements contact us and we’ll call you back.