Helping a Good Employee Who Hits a Rough Patch

 

One of our employees, who has been a steady, solid performer the last two years, suddenly erupted in anger at one of our clients during a company event. Granted, the client is difficult and the event had all of us stressed out, but that’s no excuse to lose one’s temper and get into a shouting match. We immediately suspended him without pay.

Since then we’ve learned from coworkers that he’s dealing with stress by drinking. What should we consider as we try to decide whether to fire him or let him come back?

Suspending him without pay while you’re trying to figure out the situation is a good choice. While emotions run high, I always recommend suspending instead of “firing on the spot”. A suspension allows you to carefully choose a decision after learning all the facts, and avoids you having regrets later for having acted too rashly.

Below are some factors to weigh that will help you decide:

Value - You say he’s been there 2 years, which means he’s probably knowledgeable and you’ve made an investment in his training and development. Does this make him a keeper?

History - Is this his first offence or is this a repeat pattern? Is he well respected? or is he perceived as a hot-head? Does he have good relationships with clients and colleagues? Did you expect this or did it appear to come out of the blue?

Help available. If you were to keep him, what’s the level of support you can provide for him getting some help? For instance, does your company have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides therapy or substance abuse treatment? You can make this a condition of employment. In other words, you can allow him to keep his job as long as he agrees to participate in the EAP.

Note: Be careful here if you make a referral, to do so only for a generic EAP assessment and not for a “substance abuse” program, in other words stay away from labeling or diagnosing him. Let the pros at EAP determine what he needs. His treatment will remain confidential, you’ll only know whether he’s participating.

Kudos for carefully considering your decision. He may simply be a good employee who is going through a rough time and needs some help.

 

Originally posted on HR Box.

 

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