How to deal with negative and difficult employees at work

One has to face difficult and negative people at every walk of life. Especially working in the recruitment business, you have to face them almost every day. Your boss, your co-worker, your employees and as an HR, you have to deal with all kind of people and move ahead in your career. That is the trait of a true and hardworking HR.

However, how will you identify, who is a “difficult to deal with” employee, someone, who constantly complaints about the workplace or their co-workers, or boss, or the job itself. Sometimes, even the employer has to face the negative impact borne by these difficult and negative employees. Having said that, one can’t just get rid of these people because there has to have a reason to take any extreme step. And because the employee is difficult to handle, is no good reason. There are people who are always cynical about anyone and everyone in the organization. The moment they meet someone they have a judgement and they have a view for them and they live in that fancy views and ideas and refuse to come out of that and try to talk in a positive way.

Every individual has a different trait, some adjust to the environment and some constantly complain about the same. Let’s discuss ways of dealing with these employees in a professional manner:

  1. Don’t get carried away: When an employee comes to you to complain about anything, don’t get too carried away and start believing on whatever they say. Because these people have a great convincing power and they make you believe that they are being tortured in the organization. SO you can always listen to whatever they say and tell them you will help them, but learn to draw a line and give them the message loud and clear that, you cannot do anything against the rule of the organization, but suggest them to be positive, which is near to impossible for them. However, you can talk to your senior management about the same.
  2.  Identify the problem: One has to understand the reason why a person has become so negative about a particular person or the organization. SO try to get into the route of the problem and get into their shoes and try to understand the reason behind.
  3. Talk positively: In order to defuse the problem, you have to adopt a positive attitude and try to always talk positively. When every time, the other person is negative and you are positive, his negativity might slowly diminish and they might take a positive attitude as well. However, this can happen the other way round as well, because negativity always takes a toll on positivity. So try to concentrate only on positive attitude and don’t let your mind divert from your point of view. Stand stiff and confident on your point of view and don’t get convinced by the other person.
  4. Identify areas of change: When talking to these employees, you will notice a common word or a sentence they will use on almost everyone. SO identify the mindset and areas where you can change them. And try to change their mindset and behaviour towards negativity.
  5. Stay calm and composed: When a person whines continuously about the co-workers or boss or organization, its mundane that the other person gets irritated and angry at the same time, so be a good listener and Stay calm and composed and do not react in a negative manner, always wear a smile and try to explain them your point of view.

However, one has to understand that there is no fire without flames. There may be some flaws which the other person recognized and that gave a negative impact on them. So try to dig deeper into the issue and try to find out the reason what has created a negative impact on that employee and suggest improvement on any flaws.


How to deal with an absconding employee

When an employee fail to report to work without prior notice verbally or on written, and when contacted they are not reachable, it is a clear cut case of absconding. This normally happens after a long leave. Some employees play it safe and keep sending mails as soon as their leave is over, to extend the leave, giving a reason they know better. When it is extended more than once, then it should be clear that, the employee is not willing to come back, but this can’t be considered as abscondment, as he is communicating his absence through mail or on call. But, after some time, if his/her phone is not reachable, then you can make out that the employee is absconding.

Abscond itself means, leaving secretly. So, here, you, as an HR have to come into picture. What possible ways can you deal with this situation?

  1. Don’t come to a conclusion: Make an attempt to contact the employee as much as possible, Drop a mail, send a reminder again and again, and send a letter, contact through SMS and so on and so forth. There could be possible reason why the employee is not showing up and not answering the call. SO try to contact the relatives and any other contacts mentioned n the record and find out the reason of his absence.

Only after all the attempts fail, and you come to know that the employee is not answering your call deliberately, then declare it as absconding. Don’t just come into conclusion in one go. Remember you are answerable to your manager as well. SO only after trying all the permutation combination, decide whether he is absconding or in some trouble. If you get through, hear his side of the problem as well.

  1. Reason for absence: There could be many reasons why an employee is not able to make it in office. So, if you get a chance, try to find out the reason through his colleagues or friends or relatives. The reason could be many like harassment, threatening, bullying, office politics or any personal reasons. So discuss the reason with your manager and then come to a conclusion.
  2. Communicate with your manager: keep your manager in loop about all this, tell them the reason for the employee’s absence and then on mutual discussion, if you find the reason not valid enough, you can tag the employee as absconding.
  3.  The intention to return: Probe more and more, to know from his friends and relatives on whether he is willing to come back or is just playing around. If, by any means, you feel that, he is not serious enough, you can declare him as absconding.
  4. Terminate the remuneration: If an employee has surpassed the number of leaves and has still not communicated about the extension of the leaves, you have full right as an HR whatsoever to terminate the remuneration of the employee. Only when you find a valid reason of his/her absence, can you re-consider about the remuneration.

SO, as an HR dealing with absconding is a proper procedure to be followed. And only after all the procedures fail, can you declare an employee as absconding.

Handling employee grievances


Working in a diversified environment, having issues, rifts, and problems is mundane. However, it’s the Job of the HR to handle these issues effectively. And this is one of the most complicated challenges an HR has to face. It’s their duty to handle it with ease and meticulously.

Different traits of people work under one roof. So Differences of opinions and frictions are bound to happen. As per the HR policies, handling employee grievances is one of the most important point and it has a proper procedure altogether. So let’s point out some important ways to handle employee grievances:

  1. Be a good listener: If an employee comes to you with his/her issue. Try to be patient and listen very carefully. If half of your attention is somewhere else and then you ask him/her again and again to repeat, that is quite unprofessional from your side. Never Interrupt in between. Let him/her finish what they want to say.
  2. Be very polite: Talk to them very politely, being an HR that is one thing you have to always remember. Don’t ridicule anyone; they have come to you because they trust you. SO, respect their feelings and try to confabulate politely…
  3. Don’t be judgemental: Listen to both the parties carefully and patiently and don’t be biased with any one of them. If you face any difficulty, try to take the help of your colleagues or manager. But don’t be judgemental based on your point of view. You have to be fair to both the parties. Refrain from passing any comments until both the parties are finished.
  4. Try to be composed: Don’t become aggressive on any of the remarks made by the person. Instead try to be composed and try to explain the reasons and solutions in a nonchalant manner.
  5. Explain the policies again: It’s imperative that the employee should know the policy and the rules of the organization. And clearly tell them that rules cannot be changed for anyone whatsoever. And we will not tolerate any indiscipline in the organization.
  6. Expecting resolution: You have to understand that the employees are expecting a fair resolution of the issue from you. SO keep your point of view. Try to be persuasive and not argumentative. Difference of opinions might occur between you and the employee as well. SO with the mutual discussion with your manager, come to a fair trial or resolution of the issue.
  7. Gather Information:  In order to be fair in your decision, try to gather information and facts. Try to probe their colleagues and managers to dig into the issue. Make a note of all the facts about both the parties. Have a one on one with each and every employee to have a clear picture of the issue. Because different person has a different perception on the matter. So take everyone’s viewpoint.  Probe them to get the maximum out of them. And once you have gathered enough facts, discuss with your manager and come to a solution.
  8. Take your time: Quick resolution of any issue may lead to a long term grudges and rifts between the parties, so try to take a little extra time and unanimously decide on the solution, which will be beneficial for both the parties. That doesn’t mean you have all the time in the world and you keep the issue pending to resolve later. Give yourself a time frame of 1 week and after proper discussions and arguments come to a fair judgement.
  9. Prompt decision on some issues: If the issues is something related o physical abuse, harassment or any other issue which is not at all acceptable, take a decision then and there.

SO keeping all the above points in mind, you can always add your own way of handling issue, But in an unbiased manner. Remember do not bicker, rant or brawl. That is not the trait of an HR. An HR is portrayed as the most intellectual person in the organization, so try to be one.

Any mishandled grievances can leave a lifelong impact on the employees.

  • They might lose trust on the organization and the system.
  • If the issue is not resolved properly, that may lead to a serious fight at a later stage
  • You might lose a good employee.
  • Last but not the least; your image will be at stake.

Having said that, an HR is someone who should keep all the above things in mind and take a fair decision, which is favourable to both the parties so that there is no friction at a later stage.