What happens when a manager who brings in the dollars treats their staff badly?
This can be real conundrum for employers who are constantly driven to increase revenue, and drive profit. However, this can be false economy. While this manager aka Manager Big Bucks, may be bringing in the revenue, the long-term risk to the business can far out-weigh any gain.
Consider this scenario – you receive a complaint from a junior staff-member about Manager Big Bucks (who is financially performing very well). You approach Manager Big Bucks, who convinces you it’s sour-grapes on behalf of the complainant. You conduct an investigation and can’t find anything to back it up, so you do some bullying and harassment training and let it go.
You receive another complaint, from a different staff-member about Manager Big Bucks (who is still financially performing well). This time it is a slightly more senior employee. You conduct an investigation, hold a conciliation session, do some more bullying and harassment training and let it go.
You receive anther complaint – this time from a co-worker about behaviour they have witnessed by Manager Big Bucks against another employee. Once again, you conduct an investigation, you offer support to the injured employee (who was too frightened to complain himself – because he knows everyone who has challenged Manager Big Bucks or complained in the past is no longer there), and he won’t even admit it happened. You arrange some one-on-one training for Manager Big Bucks (because he’s bringing in the dollars and you don’t want to let him go) and let it go.
Suddenly, you have an employee lodge a WorkCover Stress Claim – because of the bullying behaviour of Manager Big Bucks (who is still bringing in the dollars). You lodge the WorkCover claim, and let it go. You know you will have to pay the first 5 days lost time and your initial medical and like expenses excess but hey, that can’t have anything to do with Manager Big Bucks right – he’s bringing in the dollars.
Your WorkCover premium goes up. The rest of your team are under pressure because they are a person short, Manager Big Bucks is under pressure and takes it out on his staff, your admin/hr team spend hours managing the WorkCover claim… the costs rise.
Then another employee lodges a bullying claim with the Fair Work Commission – suddenly time and resources are being drained away to defend this (let’s face it, indefensible claim). The impact on your business is growing – legal costs, resource use, staff morale, staff turnover, work-place revenge etc.. not to mention damage to your reputation and damage to your brand, which can lead to lost business, reduced revenue and recruitment difficulties.
The situation gets worse, WorkSafe decide to investigate the claim. You find yourself in court facing charges of vicarious liability –as an employer you owe a non-delegable duty of care to your employees, which includes ensuring that workers are not exposed to the likelihood of injury at work. The track record of Manager Big Bucks could reasonable be assessed as a risk to health and safety and you are likely to be held vicariously responsible for mental injuries caused by the actions of Manager Big Bucks.
Once again legal costs mount up, your reputation is in tatters and you are facing a damages payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars… You start to do the sums, how much has Manager Big Bucks brought in and how much is he responsible for you losing?
It is simply not worth letting poor conduct go.
If you need help managing the conduct of employees in your business, contact HR Gurus, one of our highly experienced consultants can help.
Written by Resident HR Guru Louise Betts