Employee Underperformance

Underperformance/ Poor Performance

It is essential that employers recognise and address the concern of employee underperformance or poor performance early within employment, prior to employees developing fixed unproductive behaviours. The longer that poor performance exists within the workplace the greater the likelihood of it effecting workplace relationships, morale, and culture. It also has the potential to impact negatively upon client and customer service, and the productivity and revenue of a business. 

Underperformance and poor performance are inclusive of:

  • Not meeting the standard or performing the duties required of role.
  • Inappropriate or disruptive behaviour at work.
  • Behaviour that negatively impacts other employees and the workplace.
  • A disregard or non-compliance towards workplace policies, rules, or procedures.

5 common reasons this occurs:

  • Motivation and Morale – A lack of morale within the workplace stemming from long time employment that has led to disinterest in the role, with no workplace goals or professional development opportunities to motivate employees. Employees feel underappreciated for their efforts whether this be of monetary or acknowledgement value, and feel that there is no opportunity for progression or change within roles or throughout the organisation.
  • Interpersonal Issues – From misunderstandings and conflicts between employees and management, to cultural misunderstandings and miscommunications that cause distraction. The more serious circumstances of underperformance and poor performance deriving from workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
  • Expectation – Poor work performance will inevitably result if an employee has not understood the expectations set by an employer or management. Unclear tasks and roles, inclusive of the details such as goals and standards within the expectation, result in low productivity and underperformance as employees lose confidence within the uncertainty of meeting task /role requirements.
  • Capability – An employee may be fulfilling a role that is beyond their acknowledged skill level as the result of bad hiring, a change to role responsibilities, another employee leaving or changing roles, or the promotion of an employee not working. Within these circumstances employees may have the potential to reach such capabilities, however the time and pressure to learn such roles results in poor performance.
  • Personal – This can be caused by family stress, employee inability to manage work/life balance, and the health of employees impacting upon engagement, focus, and productivity.

All efforts should be made to assist employees to improve performance and workplace behaviours, which can be addressed and recognised with consistent communication, documentation, and review. If all efforts to improve employee performance are unsuccessful, then it may be required that the employer consider the performance process set out in the employee handbook.

Fair Work dictate specific steps that must be followed when addressing employee poor or under performance when disciplinary action is required. Assurance HR have specific expertise in this area, having assisted many clients through this process ensuring that all steps are approached meticulously, decreasing the likelihood of a dismissal being over-turned by the Fair Work Tribunal.

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