Every business' success hinges on the quality of its employees, which is why you don't want any weak links in your chain of command.

Your employees are both the face of your business and its engine room.

Whether they deal directly with customers, liaise with like-minded businesses or organisations, or work with your suppliers, the quality of your employees will directly reflect the quality of your business – one bad apple can spoil the bunch. 

And an act of negligence, a workplace incident, or even a simple mistake by one of your employees can cost your business plenty – whether it's intentional or not.

Here are the kinds of employees your business should avoid hiring at all costs.

1. The bully

If they're not quite a narcissist, then they're usually an egotist.

The bully is the first to blame someone else and throw them under the bus when something goes wrong. 

And if something hasn't gone wrong yet, then there's every chance they're in the process of white-anting someone else's efforts.

The bully quickly becomes accustomed to throwing their weight around with their colleagues, and this pattern of behaviour could soon rear its head with your customers.

And workplace bullying, at whatever level of your business it might occur, doesn't just hurt the employee on the receiving end. It's estimated that bullying costs Australian businesses up to $36 billion a year.

Red flag alert: Seek suggests that one way to identify a potential bully is to have a look at their social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, to see if they have a habit of belittling others. Remember that it's your business and livelihood at stake here.

Of course, just be careful not to breach any anti-discrimination laws during your online sleuthing.

Protection: help protect yourself and your business from claims of employee mismanagement with management liability insurance, which can help you defend, settle or pay compensation claims.

“No matter how good your hiring policy or recruitment process is or how great your employees are at their job, some things are beyond their control”

2. The slacker

The slacker has a habit of calling in sick, rocking up to work hungover, or ducking for cover whenever the boss has work to give out.

The problem with the slacker is that their poor work ethic can quickly spread to other employees – leading to missed deadlines, poor communication, and lacklustre attitudes.

Easily bored, one of the slacker's favourite forms of procrastination is distracting other employees with chit-chat that's unrelated to work. 

Red flag alert: If you think you might have a potential slacker on your hands, consider hiring them on a probationary period so that if their initial standards start slipping, it will be easier to part ways.

Be sure to also call up their previous employer and ask specific questions about your concerns, such as “did they always show up on time?”, “were they reliable?”, and “did they always meet their deadlines”.

Protection: the slacker is prone to cutting corners on procedures and visiting websites they shouldn’t, so consider taking out cyber insurance to safeguard your business against online risks.

3. The office gossip

Two-faced. A busy body. Always sticking their noses into the private lives of others.

The office gossip may not be directly involved in the drama themselves, but they'll make sure everyone hears about it at the water cooler.

Such behaviour can lead to an unhappy and divisive workplace - something that is never good for business.

Red flag alert: the office gossip may describe themselves during their interview as a “people-person”, or someone who “doesn't like to get involved in office politics”.

it doesn’t take much for office gossip to spiral into office harassment. Once again, you can help protect yourself and your business against claims of mismanagement through management liability insurance.

4. All talk

We all know someone who talks a big game, but doesn't appear to have the runs on the board to back up their talk.

They may be the most confident person in the room, but when it comes to putting in the hard yards, they either go missing or delegate to another colleague.

This kind of employee is hard to spot, because they write and say all the right things during the interview process.

Red flag alert: if you suspect you're interviewing someone who's all talk, get them to demonstrate their skills by sitting a test.

Additionally, just like 'the slacker', be sure to call up their previous employer and ask specific questions surrounding any concerns you may have.

Protection: if someone who’s all talk is involved in the production of your product, then you risk sending out a substandard - or even dangerous - product to your customers. Help protect yourself against this risk by taking out appropriate product liability insurance.

5. The burnout 

Opposite to 'the slacker', but no less harmful.

A person who is prone to burning themselves out may also be prone to micro-managing and working poorly in team environments. They can also be overly protective or defensive of their work and display an inability to take on constructive feedback. 

They may also come in to work even when they're deathly sick, passing their bug on to other employees. Which, again, can have a big effect of the productivity of your workplace.

Their unhealthy obsession with work can also have a detrimental effect on employees who have their work-life balance sorted, as they'll often stay back late and make others feel guilty for leaving on time.

Red flag alert: during the interview process, be sure to ask them about their work-life balance and any hobbies or interests outside of work. You may also want to ask them to outline a time they worked in a team to achieve a specific goal, and what their role in that team was. 

Protection: of course, sometimes your workers, good and perhaps not so good, can make a mistake and that might lead to claims of negligence. That’s why professional indemnity insurance matters. It will help protect your assets and brand if your advice or services cause a client to take legal action against you.

Protecting your business

No matter how good your hiring policy or recruitment process is or how great your employees are at their job, some things are beyond their control.

You can't expect them to single-handedly fend off a cyber attack, turn back the tide, or foresee a product liability issue coming down the supply chain. 

For those situations, all businesses should consider if they have the right business pack insurance for their organisation. It is also vital to have the right business interruption insurance to mitigate some of your company’s risks.

To discuss the best ways insurance can protect your business from situations beyond your control, talk to your Steadfast broker.

Important disclaimer - Steadfast Group Limited ABN 98 073 659 677, its subsidiaries and its associates.

The views expressed are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect those of Steadfast.

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