HR Nightmares Hiding in the Dark Corners of Your Business

HR Nightmares Hiding in the Dark Corners of Your Business
Hiding in the Dark Corners of Your Business

HR Nightmares

Are issues with your Human Resources causing you nightmares or frights? Are you hiding in the dark corners of your business? In considering what SMEs are challenged with, we’re going to look at some of the worst issues that a small business may have to deal with. All in the spirit of unveiling the monsters and ghostly tales, of Nightmare on Small Business Street, it is Halloween after all!

It’s not all horror, we’ll also be looking at how you can solve these issues to help you have a happy ending.

1. Discrimination and Harassment

Let’s jump right in at the deep end. One of your employees makes a complaint of sexual harassment against their manager. Or you get accused of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability status, or some other category.  If you’re thinking this will never happen to you, think again.

Something that strikes me as interesting and goes unthought of, is that your employee could go public with their accusations.  Think what that could do to your personal and business reputation.  And you will antagonise the situation if you repeatedly ignore and minimise the situation. Resulting in the damage already been done before you take the most important and practical steps to resolve the matter.

So, if you want to avoid being the next high-profile headlining news story, don’t ignore or try to minimise any complaints you receive from your employees.  Make it clear that you take them seriously and will investigate them.

It’s true that the average SME can’t afford to hire costly solicitors and barristers to fight the case in an Employment Tribunal within your budget.  The most cost effective and risk management approach is to arrange an impartial investigation by neutral parties—outside the company if possible. Such as an Independent Consultant, then if the claims and accusations are substantiated, take decisive action to resolve them.

Of course, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure. For advice on fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace culture in which such incidents are less likely to occur, then seek professional expert Advice.

2. Employee Conflict

Employee Conflict can fast become a HR Nightmare. Not all problems between your employees involve accusations of harassment. Sometimes, people just don’t get along, or they have a profound disagreement over how to do a task or how to manage a situation.

Those issues can be serious too and not just for the employees involved. If you don’t take swift action to resolve the conflict, it can fester and spread to other colleagues creating a toxic working environment for everyone.

In a large company, the HR department will be the mediator for conflicts like this, but in an SME, that responsibility will generally fall on the owner. Mediation is a process with some specific steps you can take to achieve a successful outcome that everybody accepts.   And needs to be handled both sensitively and by an experienced expert.

It’s not a case of banging heads together and expecting things to improve, if you don’t nip this in the bud,  then very quickly it will build into a huge problem that gets in the way of your business operation daily.  Again, seek expert Advice as soon as you recognise the breakdown in the business relationship.

3. Hiring Mistakes

In theory, hiring a new employee should be a well-thought-out process, starting with carefully outlining the attributes required for the role.  Progressing through other stages like considerations over the pay and benefits, advertising and interviewing.  And ending with the successful hiring of the ideal candidate to fit the role and your company.

The reality, however, is often different. SMEs often rush to fill a role as quickly as possible, and they settle for a candidate who may have the right qualifications on paper but doesn’t fit the culture of the company.

To ensure you know how to hire the right people, into the right roles and the right time, speak with a HR Expert who can help you every step of the process and provide training to you and your managers and supervisors to ensure that hiring mistakes aren’t holding your business back.

And if you’ve already hired the wrong person and need to take action, seek expert Advice to make sure you’re following the right termination process.

4. Inadequate Documentation

Small businesses often do things more informally than larger corporate companies, and sometimes this can be a positive thing. But it also has its drawbacks and downsides and when left unchecked can soon become one of your HR Nightmares.

If you don’t properly document things like terms and conditions of employment, company policies and employee benefits, you’ll face constant questions from confused employees, and you may open yourself up to legal problems in the future if employees claim they weren’t made aware of important company policies.

To overcome this, make sure you have robust employment contracts and document your company policies in a clear, easy-to-read employee handbook. Don’t go for an easy option of downloading documents from the internet, this is a risk to your business.  Instead, seek advice from a HR Expert who can provide bespoke documents to support your business operation.

5. Firing Without Following A Due Process

In the world of reality TV, it might be OK just to point a finger at someone and say, “You’re fired.” But in the real world in which we have to operate under a clear legal and compliance framework, that approach can get you in a whole lot of trouble and you will find yourself in the dock of an Employment Tribunal with little defence for your actions.

Employment legislation protects workers from unfair dismissal, and your employees can raise an Employment Tribunal complaint against you if they feel they were treated unfairly. So, it’s very important to follow a clear, fair process if someone is not performing adequately in their job.

That means highlighting the issue to the employee, giving the employee a chance to improve, following your company’s capability and disciplinary policies and documenting the process carefully from beginning to end.  This is an area where you don’t want to risk making any mistakes as this can be very costly to your business, therefore always seek expert advice before you take any action.

In summary, take a proactive and risk management approach to your employees and business operation – don’t wait for things to go wrong, which may result in a legal claim.

Help is at hand – OptHR are currently offering a complimentary employment contract and HR policy review for all new clients. Providing you with a commentary of the risk and shortfalls on your legal requirements, and good practice which meets the needs of SMEs.

Learn more about our contracts of employment and policy services.

If you would like further information or advice with your HR nightmares, please contact us at

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