5 ways to fix the issue of underperforming employees

By Robert Half on 18 August 2018

If you make a bad hiring decision, do you know how to handle underperforming employees who don’t meet expectations?

There are various options available to you as an employer to grow a successful team, involving different levels of intervention or employee motivation.

One thing’s for sure, you can’t simply brush the issue under the rug. Unmotivated or poorly performing employees can impact on productivity, team morale, the atmosphere in the office and ultimately your organisation’s bottom line. They can add to costs and also impact on revenues.

Here are five steps you can potentially take to solve the problem of underperforming employees:

1. Conduct a performance review

First and foremost, you need to ensure the employee understand the demands of the job, and what is expected of them. Then you need to establish whether they have the means and resources necessary to perform to the required level.

A good time to do this is in a performance review. Perhaps simply providing employee training or allocating a mentor may help them get up to speed.

2. Be patient

It can take some professionals a little longer than others to learn their new role. If they are putting in the effort and showing small signs of improvement, it may just be a case of trying to nurture the employee and bring them on gradually.

You can monitor the situation and their performance closely and delay more direct intervention until you are sure it is 100 percent necessary.

3. Talk to the employee

Underperforming employees may not know there is an issue with their work until you tell them. It is important to provide regular feedback from the outset, as part of the onboarding and training process, to ensure your employee has a clear idea of what is required.

This can help them focus on doing their job more effectively, and work on their areas of weakness.

4. Consider reallocation

If it is clear that the employee cannot meet the performance expectations and do the job as required, you may need to take tasks from them or even move them to a different team. Consider whether they have transferrable skills which can add greater value in another part of the business.

Having invested in the employee – spending money on the recruitment and onboarding process – finding them a different role within your organisation may work to everybody’s benefit, saving time and additional expense.

5. Part ways

If training and reallocation have proven ineffective, and you still have an employee who underperforms and costs more than they deliver, you may have to let them go.

It will cost you money to re-recruit for the role, and leave you short-staffed in the interim, but think about it this way: a bad employee may prove more harmful to the business in the long run. Making an employee redundant is never a comfortable process; it needs to be handled delicately and fairly, with all legal processes observed.

You also need to provide support and advice for the individual concerned, to assist them finding a role which is more suited to them.

How to avoid hiring underperforming employees in the future

When you come to re-hire for the position, it’s important to think about how the hiring mistake of underperforming employees occurred.

Were you looking for the wrong attributes on applicant CVs? Did you ask the wrong questions during the interview, or even conduct the wrong type of interview? And did you prioritise the wrong candidate qualities when making your final choice?

Assessing the steps taken to bring the employee onboard can help ensure any mistakes are avoided second time around. If you didn’t use a recruitment agency initially, then you may wish to consult their expertise the next time you need to hire.

Speak to our recruitment consultants if you need any help, or simply submit a job vacancy placement with us.

More From the Blog...

How to say no to your boss

While your boss is not always right, it's not easy for some to express this out of fear of repercussion. Knowing how to say no to your boss though,...

Read More