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Productivity / Performance

The effects of stress on workplace performance

Stressors like workload, people issues, lack of work/life balance and job insecurity can cause a dip in productivity at work, according to ComPsych’s 2012 Stress Pulse survey.

Performance slipping under new supervisor? Find out if standards have changed

If a former employee sues after being fired for poor performance, his attorney will almost certainly ask to look at past performance appraisals. Any that indicate the employee had previously been doing a good or excellent job may be used against you as proof the employee was fired for illegal reasons.

Discipline OK even if employee has complained

Courts are consistently hesitant to second-guess well-founded employment decisions. Of course, they won’t let you get away with discriminating or retaliating against an employee for filing an EEOC complaint or lawsuit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t discipline an employee if she needs prodding to meet your legitimate expectations.

When disciplining older worker, be sure to document all examples of poor performance

Employees who sue for age discrimination under the ADEA must prove that, if not for illegal age discrimination, their employer wouldn’t have taken an adverse employment action. That’s why, when age may be an issue, em­­ployers are better off having several good reasons for terminating the employee.

Focus on ability to perform duties if you worry worker may have mental or emotional problems


What should you do if one of your employees seems to be having difficulty coping well at work? Start by not jumping to conclusions about his mental health. Instead, focus on behavior and document any apparent problems. Then, based on that observation, consider asking for a fitness-for-duty examination.

Watch out for overt harassment, but don’t sweat isolated–possibly misinterpreted–comments

While you should certainly discourage workplace comments that could be misconstrued as hostile, don’t panic if you learn an insensitive supervisor said something stupid. Unless the remarks were out-and-out racist, chances are they won’t be the basis for a hostile environment racial harassment lawsuit.

Create special test for underperforming worker


Do you have an employee who just doesn’t seem capable of doing his job? If you document the shortcomings, you can create a special test designed to measure improvement. Just be sure to provide appropriate training materials as part of your effort.

Writing performance reviews: Details will save the day

When it comes time to writing performance evaluations, it’s best to stay away from broad generalizations about the employee’s work. Instead, provide concrete examples that support your stated performance rankings. Follow these guidelines for writing evaluations.

Track poor behavior even after improvement


Some employees will permanently per­­form and behave better if they believe their jobs are at stake. But for others, the improvement is only temporary. That’s why it is important to track performance and behavior over time.

Suggesting ways to improve isn’t discrimination

Some employees are hypersensitive to any criticism, even if it is constructive. That won’t turn a weak discrimination lawsuit into a winner. For example, if the employee receives a largely positive performance review that lists some areas in need of improvement, chances are the court will toss the case fast.