Human Resources HR can be a very rewarding field because there is great satisfaction in helping others. However, at times, it can be a challenging and stressful place to work. This stems from the complex and diverse types of employee problems that are presented to HR for resolution. There is never a dull moment in today’s workplace and the actions taken by your employees are not to be underestimated. From insubordinate acts to workplace drunkenness, from harassing and aggressive behaviors to coercion, collaboration and theft.

In my opinion, to be effective in HR, you have to stay in tune to the issues that your organization faces, and also to stay current with all laws, regulations and legislation that are introduced to the workplace environment.

My tips for Minimizing as well as Dealing with Employee Problems.

First, I suggest that you start with the basics and ensure that you get your management team on the same page with you. Even very basic steps can help to reduce workplace problems and encounters with difficult employees.

• Start with a thorough onboarding process such as new hire orientation and training.

• Have a solid practice of good communication with all stakeholders in your organization.

• Have a complete handbook and communicate frequently about key policies, procedures and expectations.

• Reinforce the importance of an open door policy with all of your managers.

Secondly, I suggest that you ensure consistency in your disciplinary procedures and train to achieve that.

• Have consistent and fair procedures for documenting performance problems and how to address them.

• Use progressive discipline as much as possible-avoid using the “at will” doctrine when possible.

• Train your supervisors and managers on how to use these steps and the importance of documentation.

• Be prepared to assist with the language in disciplinary documents so that they are clear and legal.

Lastly, make sure that discussions with “offenders” are handled in a fair and legal manner, and are private.

• Ensure that privacy and confidentiality are adhered to when disciplinary meetings occur.

• Review disciplinary documents with the employee and ask questions to ensure understanding of expectations.

• Ask the employee how/in what ways he/she intends to make the necessary changes.

• Ensure that the manager is available when/if problems occur along the way and that they are receptive to talks with this and all employees.

Following this advice and staying consistent in your approach to resolution of problems as well as to the importance of documentation can and will stave off issues and accusations of unfair treatment and favoritism. It is unfortunate that the old adage … “Managers spend 90% of their time on 10% of the workforce” is still true today. But how you use your time during the day and over the course of your career-with an open mind and open door-will ultimately determine how much time you spend with those problems you might have avoided.

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.