I am not sure what to do about one of our long time employees. He is a dedicated worker and is very knowledgeable about running one of our CNC machines. He can run the beam saw and fix almost anything he gets his hands on. He is pleasant to work with, works hard, stays on task and generally works very efficiently. Sounds great!
But... he always needs to be paid early. He has already been paid for some of his vacation time for next year. In his personal life he is always making poor decisions. For several years he lived with a tramp who took all his money. He was buying a fixer upper house and poured money into it. The tramp left and stuck him with the house, which he walked away from, having put all his money into it. He moved into another house with a roommate. He loaned the roommate his truck and it was totaled. He purchased a new (used) car and after 1 week his roommate totaled it. He kicked out the roommate who had owed over $1,000 in back utility payments. So his lights were shut off. Knowing full well that I may never see it again, I loaned him my large generator.
He had been riding to work with another employee, but that employee is fed up with him. All of our other employees are fed up with him. He had no ride to work the other day and wanted me to pay him more of his vacation pay for next year. Business is slowing down now for the holidays and cash flow is tight, so I just can not do that right now. All of his problems stem from his making bad choices, but it really is not my business what he does outside of work. Nonetheless... I still feel guilty.
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor B:
As human beings, we tend to sympathize with others and try to help them out. There is a fine line between a professional and personal relationship. It sounds like you have already put yourself out there in helping this individual out. Paying forward vacation pay may come back to bite if the next incident causes him to lose his job with you, or God forbid incapacitates him from being able to perform. You are torn because he is a great asset to your business in his abilities, but his personal life is going to (already has) create a rift amongst your other employees. If they can't stand him, and find out what you have done for him on a personal level, there will be animosity towards you. Your well-oiled machine will begin to fall apart.
You have done your part. No corporation would put themselves out there like that. Everyone is replaceable. We learn at an early age that all decisions have consequences. Most people come to recognize which decisions will have bad consequences early on in life. Some never do. It's time for him to grow up, or send him on his way before he destroys what you have worked so hard to create.
Since this guy is your employee, all you need to do is stick to your company rules or only do what you have originally agreed to do as an employer. You are also messing with fire and setting a poor example for your other employees. They will expect the same favors if they ever need them.
Have another talk with the guy and tell him to get his affairs in order or you may have to let him go. He is already a huge distraction to your operation. And one last thing, do this and be free of any guilt. You have already done way more than most people.
Contributor K's advice is right on the money. If you can't change the employee, get a different one. If you don't, the trap will continue to be set for you and you will continue to get caught.
"If you're going to do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten."
By your own admission, you have put your company's finances in jeopardy by allowing this employee to receive additional money/tools over and above his agreed upon compensation package. You cannot consider this a loan when you do not expect to be reimbursed.
I am sorry to put this so bluntly, but you are making poor business decisions by allowing this one employee's personal life to adversely affect your entire business. These poor decisions you are making are not motivating your employees in a positive manner.
Start your search for his replacement and terminate his employment. Remember that you do not owe him any severance pay, but if you choose to do so, you can apply the balance he owes on his advances on his pay to his final earning period and severance package to balance the books.
Each incident shouldn't be an individual decision based on the worker's merits. I do believe there should be articles in the rules to help the guys with cash advances, borrowing tools, etc. But it needs to be clearly spelled out for all to see with limits. I used to have a crew of 20 guys and on non-paydays, 5 of them would consistently want advances. Also someone else wisely said that you are enabling him to keep making poor choices by bailing him out. Sounds like he's got some good traits, and just needs to be nudged in the right direction.
Try having a heart to heart with him about your problem and perhaps he will start to see the light. If not, you don’t have a lot of choices here. I have found that letting situations like this drag on too long creates unwarranted expectations on the part of the employee. They will come to expect you to bail them out of the muck and they feel that no matter what they do, you’ll be there for them. This could be his main malfunction… faulty expectations!
Try to work this out, but I wouldn’t be too hopeful for a happy conclusion. This type of situation never seemed to work out, at least for me.
Lay out your workplace rules - workdays, clock in time, pay rate, pay schedule, etc. Then, do not deviate from it! He can work within the parameters like every other working adult, or get a career started somewhere else that may be more down with his situation. He has no reason to change - give him one.
The individual has to realize (you have to help him see this) that he is associating with people who are a liability to him. I have seen this with employees who were former meth addicts; they had to make a decision. Then he has to decide which type of people he wants to associate with.
Then he needs to come up with a plan on how he can contribute to the company in a way that makes up for the damage to the company, and so that he will no longer be a liability to the company (and truthfully himself). If he doesn't want to do this, get rid of him. To me, good employees are gold, and I would do what I could to keep him.
Since he's a good worker, read him the riot act - no more advance pay, figure out his own transport, and so on. Even odds he gets himself in line.
I had one of these guys at my place. Great door man, just could not avoid letting his personal life encroach on the job. Tickets, utilities turned off, fighting with the wife, getting pulled over with weed in the car, had bad day and got drunk and got pulled over, arrested for fighting his ignorant wife (but she started it), weed belonged to a friend of his son. It was always on somebody else. But he needed my money to get it straightened out.
His goofy wife called me about 9:30 one morning to tell me that he wouldn't be in at 6:00 that morning (ya reckon I haven't figured that out by then?) to make our delivery and install (2 hours away) and that she needed his check for his last two days and a week's advance because he was jailed for a headlight out. I think they write tickets for that, and found out from my police friend he was arrested for fighting with her. The police, knowing I needed him on the job, also said I could bail him out for 500. I told them no thanks, he could sit it out. I told her he could pick up his two day's pay if/when he got out. He was out before lunch, and I gave him his check and fired him. He begged me for one year for his job back. He's been back two years now, with zero problems on or off the job.
While altruism is a fine characteristic, worthy of cultivation, there are many outlets for it both personally and professionally. Do not waste any more time on this individual - you are enabling him further. There is nothing wrong with wanting the very best in your company. You give your best, why not ask the same of everyone?
Your job is to keep that shop running for the health of all, not just him. You are not doing him any favors. When you feel yourself swaying, remember that giving a fish is not as important as teaching to fish. You have tough choices, but that's why you're the boss.
Well, guess who showed up today? OSHA. He said there were safety issues with the beam saw and the CNC machines. I am out of town, so our production manager had to handle it. Our production manager said that the only issues the OSHA guy talked about was that we had some material in front of a breaker box. Of course, it was the disgruntled employee who put the stuff there and had been told to move it. There was also an extension cord on our automatic drain for the air compressor that should have been hardwired or plugged into a closer outlet. Hopefully that is all he found.
We do run a safe shop and in 18 years we have only had one accident that required more than a band aid. And that was because the employee was smoking dope before work. Anyway, everything as far as I know can be taken care of in about 15 minutes. Has anything like this happened to anyone else? I was wondering what OSHA does regarding fines. We are just hanging on and a fine would really be tough on us.