A workplace is an environment wherein an individual should thrive. There are, however, incidences which are pitfalls in employment. This article explores these potential pitfalls during employment, such as, incorrect application of probation clauses, failing to consistently apply disciplinary action and what happens if an employee does not fit the organisational culture of the workplace.

Employers are tasked to create a working environment where the employee can thrive, and it will, in turn, benefit the employer. This is not beneficial if an employer micromanages an employee. In general, employees who find themselves in a space where they can freely work and apply their minds tend to be more productive. If micromanaged, employees tend to be confined and therefore, productivity may be affected. Similarly, team leaders and supervisors pave the way for an employee to grow within the workplace. It is always best for team leaders and supervisors to engage with their team members allowing for a space where ideas can flow freely, questions can be raised, and uncertainties clarified.

Another workplace pitfall is where there are no clearly defined roles and/or Key Performance Indicators  (KPI’s). An employee, especially if new, would need guidance that would allow for contribution to the company’s growth. If employees are not aware of what is expected of them, they may work at a level that they think is acceptable and not at the level that the employer wants. It further makes it difficult for the employer to discipline an individual for poor work performance if there were no clear performance standards put in place. It also leads to the discussion of the probationary clause. A probationary clause is merely there for training and guidance for the employee to perform in accordance with the employer’s expectations.

The employer has a business to run and needs employees that will contribute to the growth of the company. Despite wanting to create a workplace which allows for freedom of growth and all that comes with it, there must be a space where professionalism exists. Thus, placing good practices and a code of conduct that the employees are aware of will align employees and their employers. However, if there is an employee who fails to adhere to the code of conduct and he/she is not adequately disciplined, it will create the impression that employees are allowed to overstep boundaries. Furthermore, if employees who fall short of the disciplinary code are not corrected, and others are, employees may question whether favouritism exists, which in turn starts to strain employment relationships.

Lastly, it is important for a company to have an organisational culture. It comprises of the values that the company holds and the type of personnel in which they seek to match that culture. Usually, what draws a prospective employee to a company is how the company is run, whether the employees are treated fairly and with respect, do the employees buy into those values and apply them whilst performing their duties, is there promotion of a work-life balance and is there space for discussion of mental and physical health, amongst other things. All these factors contribute to a successful workplace. It is worth noting that there are employees who may not fit in with the company’s values or get along with other colleagues. In this situation, it is up to the employer to investigate and engage in narrowing down issues in the workplace.

The company is responsible for many personnel and, in addition to that, must navigate through the above. It is not an impossible task to put mechanisms in place that minimise pitfalls in the workplace.

Article By: Lauren Moodaley
Dispute Resolution Official – CEO Cape Town