Problematic employees are impossible to avoid. Every company experiences them sooner or later—even small businesses. They still slip through the cracks occasionally and get hired.

Problem employees can be frustrating and exhausting for HR, managers, and their fellow employees. They can also cause financial issues for a business. Knowing HR strategies on how to handle these troublesome employees is just as important as avoiding them in the first place. 

How can problematic employees affect your business?

Problem employees can negatively impact your business in more far-reaching ways than you might believe, including: 

The cooperation between leadership and management is critical to halting these behaviors before they affect other employees. HR must act quickly to ensure they are dealt with properly before morale, productivity, and profit are damaged.

What HR strategies should be used with your favorite movie characters?

We have broken down five of the most common problematic employee types based on some of our favorite movies. Discover which HR strategies should be leaned on to handle these tricky situations. 

The New Hire

  • Harry Potter (Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone)

We’ve all been there… first day at a new job. It’s a bit scary, but also exciting. How will you get along with co-workers? Is the boss nice? How will you stop Voldemort from getting the Sorcerer’s Stone?

Like Harry Potter’s first few days at Hogwarts, the first few days (and weeks) is a critical time for new hires. Thankfully, Dumbledore had a plan in place to ensure The Boy Who Lived didn’t succumb to the Dark Arts. Your company needs a plan to ensure employees get off to a great start too.

  • While you may not have the Sorting Hat, you can still create a smooth onboarding experience with HR technology.  With NetGuide, you can get new employees started quicker, ensure they have the tools to succeed, and introduce them to the team before they even start.
  • For someone who didn’t even know what magic was when he started, Harry was able to make up a lot of ground and even excel in certain areas thanks to classes and practice. You can diminish skill gaps and develop your workforce with NetLearn, an engaging and effective Learning Management System.

The Disruptor

  • Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Everyone loves Ferris (we are definitely not siding with Principal Rooney here). We are just saying he may not make for the greatest employee. Taking too many days off? Coercing others to break the rules? Leading a parade through downtown Chicago on a workday? 

Passion and creativity are important, but not at the detriment of others. So, how can HR tame, but not dishearten this type of employee?

  • When executed correctly, performance reviews should take place regularly and address topics other than just performance, including absenteeism and co-worker feedback. With NetPerform, you can better develop employees through accurate performance data and improve workplace harmony. 

The Underperformer

  • The Dude (The Big Lebowski)

The Dude may abide, but bad employees rarely do. The Dude’s apathy and carefree attitude lost him the money, his car, and one of his best friends. He didn’t even solve the case; it resolved itself! Managers can’t rely on that to happen too often. 

Listless, unmotivated employees are detrimental to team dynamic, production, and morale. So, what HR strategies can be used to motivate the unmotivated before they bring your whole team down?

  • Obviously, performance metrics should be addressed during performance reviews (ideally held quarterly, not yearly). Like Ferris above, additional issues should also be addressed at the time to keep the employee on the right development plan. 
  • Sometimes, employees need a little something extra to motivate them. Incentives such as bonuses and earning additional PTO can inspire employees to work a little harder. Businesses can easily incorporate these perks throughout their company via integrated payroll and time & attendance solutions. 

The Pessimist

  • Ben Braddock (The Graduate)

Like The Dude, Benjamin Braddock is listless, but even more dangerous because of his glum and negative attitude towards nearly everything. His pessimism hangs over the film like a dark cloud—even when he’s lounging in the pool. We’ve all had similar employees in our midst.

Negativity is a virus that can spread fast through your company. Best to nip it in the bud before it does too much damage.

  • Companies must strive to create a positive environment despite negative employees and one that works to change their attitude. A positive work environment is one built on respect, trust, and acceptance. Newer HR strategies built around fostering diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, and a desirable employee benefits package are great ways to build positivity.  

The Mean One

  • Regina George (Means Girls)

Like high school, the workplace can be dominated by cliques and gossip. With this, harassment and a toxic work environment can easily develop. Just like toxic work bosses, mean and conniving employees can undermine your company’s efforts from the inside. With email, messaging apps, and water cooler gossip, they don’t even need a Burn Book. 

  • Similar to dealing with pessimists, companies need to actively work against and prevent this type of behavior. Creating a workplace giving program will help develop a caring workforce, while team-building events will foster a better sense of community. 

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Take this fun, short quiz to see how YOU would handle these problematic characters from some of our favorite movies