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Otago Southland Employers' Association managing solicitor Diana Hudson, and senior solicitor Rachel Brazil addressed such challenges yesterday at the annual She's Motivated conference in Dunedin.
She's Motivated was established to enable businesswomen to develop skills, knowledge, and contacts to achieve their goals. It held regular events and training.
Addressing about 50 women at the conference, Ms Hudson said every office had difficult staff, and the only way to deal with them was to make their behaviour unsuccessful.
"Difficult employees are usually that way because the behaviours they indulge in have worked in the past," she said.
The actions of these employees often resulted in low staff morale, lost business opportunities, decreased productivity and high staff turnover.
Ms Brazil said if problems were not addressed they could become significant issues.
"If something happens, you must deal with it now. No matter how difficult it feels, it's better to nip it in the bud than let it carry on."
Identifying and isolating the key issues, meeting employer obligations, bringing in human resources and or legal help, and formalising everything in writing, were good steps.
"As soon as an employee says they are feeling bullied or stressed, wether it's vexatious or legitimate, you have a legal obligation to act," she said.
By investigating thoroughly, considering genuinely, and making a plausible conclusion, employers would have a better legal case, should the problem reach such a stage.