Awkward!

10 Potentially Sticky Work Situations and How to Manage Them.

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Feeling passed over, ignored or underappreciated is often at the heart of this issue. If an employee feels bitter that he wasn't considered, work out a plan for developing his skills. Employees who feel heard, appreciated and upwardly mobile will be more likely to offer their congratulations.

6. An employee is planning a wedding and annoying co-workers
Planning a wedding is a happy time in a person's life, but not if you're the planner's co-worker picking up the slack for someone more interested in place settings than spreadsheets. This problem can fester until other employees want to throw more than rice at the betrothed. You shouldn't hold your peace as the employer. Pull this employee aside and offer your congratulations. Then say productivity is down and that her focus during work hours should be on the work. "It's a performance problem and should be addressed that way," Edwards says.

If you're generous, you might offer some short-term scheduling flexibility. If the employee balks and files for divorce from your company, maybe it's for the best.

7. An employee who needs to drive on the job gets a DUI
Some states allow employees with DUIs to obtain a work permit to drive on the job during the suspension period, Craig says. Of course, the biggest risk you take is if the employee continues drinking and hits someone while working. "If you have reason to [believe they're still drinking] and didn't do anything, you're looking at a negligent retention claim," Craig says.

If an employee is suspended for six months and can't get a work permit, "there's not a whole lot you can do," Craig says. At this point, it's up to you whether to reassign this employee to a desk job. You're also within your rights to terminate employment, but be aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act protects recovering addicts. So check whether the employee has entered a recovery program before you go down that road.

8. An employee's substance-abuse problem is becoming obvious
Young has had employees who developed substance abuse problems. He meets privately with the employee to discuss performance and behavioral problems, then he directs him toward the employee assistance program provided through Socialcast's outside HR provider. "It's important to try to dictate a plan of action," Young says.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration law expects you to provide a safe workplace, so have a drug and alcohol policy. Every state allows drug testing on a suspicion basis, and employers can require employees to submit to drug testing as a condition of continued employment, says Max Muller, author of The Manager's Guide to HR: Hiring, Firing, Performance Evaluations, Documentation, Benefits, and Everything Else You Need to Know. The law is firmly on your side if the employee isn't in recovery. Says Muller, "There is no law that covers a current user of illegal drugs."

9. There's conflict between childless employees and working parents
Employers who ignore this delicate issue end up with unhappy workplaces where childless workers are always being asked to fill in the gaps for working parents who leave early and say they can't work weekends. "On occasion is one thing, but over time, [it] can become a habit of treating one class of employees differently from another," Nelson says.

He suggests a rotation system for projects and overtime, and allowing equal access to time off without a reason. Ask employees what would work, too. Says Nelson, "Sometimes when a policy is created and monitored by the staff, it has the best chance of being viewed as fair by everyone."

10. An employee is taking advantage of company money or equipment
Unfortunately, every employer will have employees who secretly take from the company. In fact, hidden employee fraud filches 7 percent of a company's revenue every year, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. "The dollars lost to fraud can grow quickly," says Tracy Coenen, a forensic accountant and the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.



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