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Small business, big price to pay: how recruiting the wrong "fit" can be a minefield

When hiring new staff, a thorough recruitment process can prevent you from hiring someone who ends up dividing the workplace and putting you in the red. Asking the right questions during the interviewing process, as well as being able to critically analyse a candidate’s responses, is crucial.

 

 

A recent case before the Fair Work Commission highlights the cost that a troublesome employee can have upon a small business. Last December, a regional, NSW family-owned business organised Christmas drinks to thank their staff for their hard work during the year. When the owner asked an employee, who had allegedly demonstrated problematic workplace behaviour in the past, his food and drink preferences, the employee responded ‘I’m not f..king going because I’m not f..king drinking with f..king Captain Klepto!’

The employer dismissed the employee shortly thereafter. In response, the employee lodged an unfair dismissal bid with the Fair Work Commission, claiming that he simply and politely declined the invitation.

The Commissioner found in favour of the employer, stating that the employee’s supposed response had such a level of cordiality that it seemed to be “so unrealistic as to be fanciful.” It was determined that the employee’s dismissal was justified under the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, with his outburst exhibiting serious and wilful misconduct.

In a case such as this one, where a full hearing is required, it can be costly for small businesses, both in court expenses and time. Employees are more aware of their workplace rights today and terminating an employee, who is ultimately insubordinate or troublesome, may seem daunting for some businesses. In concert with an unease of retaliative legal action, such elements as taking a problematic employee’s personal circumstances into account or fear of losing corporate knowledge may also lead an employer to remain inactive in regards to an unmanageable worker.

iHR Australia believes careful staff selection can create a productive and sound workplace. Attendees participating in iHR’s Recruitment for Non-HR Managers courselearn the skills necessary for interview preparation, determining the right questions to ask and analysing a candidate’s answers. Participants are also given the opportunity to practise their newly-acquired knowledge by acting out real-life scenarios with professional actors in iHR’s Workplace Reality Theatre.

 

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