How to Deal with Difficult Employees (Complete Guide)

Dealing with difficult employees can be very frustrating for a business manager. 

Aside from causing you a headache, bad employees can come with all kinds of negative impacts, including:

  • A toxic work environment 
  • Low productivity 
  • Unhappy employees 

If you’re a business that’s looking to grow and foster a positive culture, then this is the last thing you want to happen. 

Can You Legally Dismiss an Employee? 

The short answer is yes — you can legally dismiss an employee. If you’ve tried everything to make it work and your worker is continuing to cause problems, here’s a helpful guide on how to dismiss staff member employees properly. This will provide you with all the help and information you need to legally remove an employee from your business without suffering any damages in the process. 

What Reasons Can You Fire an Employee For? 

In 2023, there are lots of different legally acceptable reasons you can fire an employee. Here are just a few examples: 

  • Redundancy
  • Inability to do their role 
  • Gross misconduct 

An example of gross misconduct would be if an employee violently attacked a colleague or customer. In this situation, you’re legally allowed to fire them without even having to go through the standard disciplinary procedure. 

Remember, it doesn’t matter which industry you’re in, whether it’s healthcare or technology; all of the reasons above are applicable when it comes to dismissing employees, 

Tips for Dealing with Difficult Employees

If you have employees working for you who are extremely difficult, you might still have the desire to keep them on board. This is common among business managers who don’t want to go through the potential stress and hassle of having to fire someone. 

The good news is that there are some effective tips that you can apply when dealing with difficult employees. When applied correctly, these tips can nullify the situation and even turn the employees around entirely. 

  • Open a Dialogue 

Firstly, don’t let the issue turn into the elephant in the room. 

Instead, open a dialogue with any employee that’s actively causing a disruption to your workplace. This should be done privately in a one-to-one meeting

In the meeting, the employee will then have an opportunity to express themselves and let you know why they’ve been causing you so many issues. For example, you might discover that an employee is actually being bullied by a co-worker, and it’s causing them to behave negatively in the workplace. 

It’s important to note that there’s never a genuine excuse for being a difficult employee in the workplace. However, it’s possible to work with some of the reasons given in order to find a solution for the greater good of the company. 

If no reasons are provided by the employee, then you can conclude that they’re being difficult for the sake of it. In this case, it’s best to dismiss them officially. 

  • Provide Incentives 

Sometimes, certain employees work better when they have incentives

These days, incentives can come in different shapes and sizes in businesses. A popular one is bonus payments. When employees know that their bonuses are on the line, it automatically makes them more inclined to behave in the workplace and ultimately try their best. 

  • Document Poor Behaviour 

As a manager, you’re likely busy on a day-to-day basis. However, it’s important that you make an effort to document everything bad that your employee does. This’ll help you to gain a better understanding of them as well as build a strong case for dismissal if that’s what it comes to in the future. 

  • Discuss Everything with HR 

Don’t forget to discuss your problem employees with HR. They can give you additional advice on the subject as well as a course of action to follow. After all, that’s what HR is for. 


In today’s world, difficult employees are commonplace. 

They have a significant negative impact on you (the manager) and their co-workers. In fact, according to ZoomShift, 73% of employees have quit their jobs at some point in time due to a difficult co-worker, which shines a light on how much of an issue this can be. 

There’s no need to panic, though, as all you need to do is absorb the tips and advice discussed above. Once you’ve done this, you can move forward with a positive state of mind and can finally get to work on fixing any difficult employees that you have. In the cases where your employees refuse to change, then you can move to the last resort, which is officially dismissing them. 

Interesting Related Article: ” How To Develop A Mental Health Program For Staff And Employees”