What to do about problem staff?

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Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

Will do a quick sum up - we are a family business parents first with 2 grown up daughters as silent partners - they took on this chamber maid at that time 2005. My mother had a stroke 3 1/2 years ago so I stepped up to the plate and ended up with the chamber maid as well - who to be honest is not someone I would have employed myself.

About 8 months ago she took on a new partner (previous partner died suddenly and sadly) so we were happy for her - but now she is always rushing out the door to go home to him and rushing the rooms as well - we don't set a time limit per room as I want them to be really clean

She makes a huge fuss if she wants a day off and I ask someone to fill in "as they will try and take my job" so Simon and I end up doing her job as well as our own, she does work 7 days a week but no more than 4 hours a day and is given 4 weeks paid holiday which she had used up by july and now wants a week off in October as well and has asked for an advance on next years holiday - which I am not giving.

Trouble is whenever you reprimand her she sulks in a massive way - ie last week she wrote down 2 more hours on her time sheet than she had done - so we altered it - we were right and she was wrong even backed up by her partner who had come to pick her up - but she was right on the defensive we were wrong from the start- where I have worked that would be falsifying a time sheet and a sacking offence.

She leaves grey lines round the edges of rooms where she isn't brushing where the vac doesn't reach, takes a 15 minute coffee break when she arrives (a left over from my mothers era where they would sit and have a coffee after breakfast service) which means I am paying for 15 minutes extra every day, she can't follow lists when I put single occupancy (I do this so only one set of towels goes in) she wont follow my signs for don't replace the towels every day - she just takes them all every day which costs us about 75p per towel set which isn't a huge amount but all adds up - I recon she is loosing us about £500 a year on this alone - plus we have if you want them changing put them in the shower signs - but she changes them all anyway which is even more money - this was a policy of my mothers to change all towels every day and cost a fortune.

We are giving her an official verbal warning tomorrow as a guest today refused to stay as felt room 10 was too dusty - he did have ashma and a breathing machine but that and missing servicing the same room the day before is the last fricking straw.

on the plus side which is why I have put up with her so long is (1) she works 7 days a week (2) very honest (3) never off sick

But she is always wanting to leave rooms for tomorrow when I would much rather have everything done every day ie you never know what's in a room, cups get stained - and she is more and more expecting that simon and I strip off every room and set it up for her (which is her job) and frankly we have enough to do - its what we pay her for.

Just having a bit of a rant really but does anyone have any advice? its more for handling her attitude after the telling off to be honest

I know a lot of it is our fault for letting her get to close to us ie when her partner died we lent her the money for the funeral and allowed her to pay it off in instalments, sorted out the government to pay for it and claim it back, sorted out her benefits, housed her and her neice at a very low rent and so on - you would think that would lead to a bit of determination to do a good job to pay us back for everything we do? but no she is getting worse and worse. She has no pride in her work and now to add to DH and I's job we now have to check every room and correct all the things she is missing out - which should be more of a spot check situation.

 

Also if you say to her - right deep clean this room she refuses and says 'oh I do it every day' and if you ask her to do certain rooms out of order due to early check in's well frankly I might as well talk to myself. She is always asking me to help her with things ordering stuff on the internet and then she will pay me back out of her wages at the end of the week etc which all takes time of which I have little enough so don't want to be helping order XXXXL bras for her mother etc - but its a hole I have dug for myself before I was her boss.

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 I'm sorry, you all are too nice... I would have given her the sack a long time ago.... (Ok, maybe I'm just a wee bit tired...) sounds like you're ending up working for her instead of the other way around. 

 

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1.   Have a mission statement for your business and your clearly state standards.

2.   Have a detailed and thorough job description of duties and responsibilities which include how that job position supports and promotes your mission statement and standards.

3.  Have a daily duties checklist of each task she must accomplish each day with room for additional duties.   Be thorough but realistic.

 

 

Bommelhoeve's picture
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08/14/2009

Make clear that with your new quality standards you must have replacement if she takes vacation. You have no time to do it, your mother cannot meet the new working standards. She must ask for vacation at least 4 weeks earlier, only allowed if qualified/trained replacement can be found. Note this is quite normal, you have been too nice,,,

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Bommelhoeve's picture
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Too much history. Be careful to avoid a bad ending.  First have a meeting with DH (witness) present....

Define the need for action: why now? -competition, economy,  need to be more flexible, higher quality standards, you need to spend more time on marketing, free time to buy/manage  hotel next door. .All these long term trends requires her to work more and harder, you have to take action now, change now. What was good last year is no longer OK. Break with old habits.

Solutions (best to let her come up with some), work more efficient, work alone, agree on standards(cleaning, clothing, attitude, flexible working hours (somedays 6 hours) , inspect rooms together at end of day, redo before leaving. Agree on sanctions, explain warnings and firing, the old way does not work anymore.

 You plan on extra staff for housekeeping,  she can take more vacation, you are ready for expansion... This requires you to make the working benefits same for everyone, so end early coffeebreak, stop employee housing (you need to sell house anyway to raise finance). Offer compensation for lost coffeebreak/housing, but only if she lives up to the new agreed standards....

Write everything down, give here a copy, evaluate weekly/monthly. With luck she ends up doing a good job working 5 days a week. An extra housekeeping person adds a lot of insurance, flexibility and comparison. Never throw away old shoes until ....

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

The housing has gone - she has moved in with her partner and is no longer my problem! woo hoo! and I am hoping the bad weather in the winter will be the final straw as she has to travel on the bus ie walk to bus stop in the rain - sit on bus in wet clothes - walk from bus stop.

Have discussed all issues today and as it was her time for the bus let her go but have told her I am saving the particular room and we are going over every problem part of it on Friday when she is back as has a day off tomorrow (pre booked) for her to think it over

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

Give her the verbal warning. Before she leaves, especially if she is in a rush, pull her aside and ask to go through the rooms with her for an inspection and tell her that you will be doing these inspections because the rooms aren't clean enough. Eventually she will figure out that not doing the rooms well enough is costing her the time that she wants to save by not doing the rooms correctly. The first time you do this, be picky as hell and point out every damn little thing. Do it slowly, on purpose. She will get the clear message that you are not just displeased, but that you are going to waste more of her time by inspecting than she will gain by doing it right the first time. The second time, if things improve, do the tour quicker. Then let it go for a day or two and then do it again. If she has gotten the message you should be back to having things done right. If not, just go back and do it slowly and be pickier and pickier each time. It's a very non-verbal message. 

As for the towels. Tell her that the more they cost you to replace, the less money you have at the end of the year to consider salary increases or Christmas bonuses.

And pay her vacation pay at percentage. 2% is a week's vacation pay, so if she is at 4 weeks, that's 8% vacation pay. Count it up and keep it in the books. When she wants vacation, she raids from that amount. She can take vacation at any time, but the amount in there is what is owed and no more. You can likely call the government office for work norms and ask them, but that's how we do it around here. In fact, some companies, when the person isn't working consistently, pay out 108% of salary, so that vacation pay is paid out and the employee must accumulate it themselves.

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Joey Camb's picture
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in the UK its a percentage per hour for pay and then you get 4 weeks a year - which she has had about 6 (2 unpaid) but what I really don't like is she doesn't like anyone filling in while she is away (afraid they will take her job) so is always pushing my mother to help me - my mother is 75 and I don't want her doing the heavy chamber maid work and I just find it a bit sly

Generic's picture
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02/24/2011

It's nice that she doesn't like anyone filling in while she is away. That attitude and 60p will mail a letter to London.

You need to stand up to her. Whine is a drink, not something you do to your employer. You don't have the time. And asking your mother is strictly forbidden, she's retired and that's the end of that discussion. Clearly say to her that if she goes to your mother she will be receiving her final warning letter. You are in charge and trying to usurp your authority is unacceptable.

From now on, there will be someone in to replace her when she goes on vacation. If she is threatened by it, that's because she threatened by someone doing a better job than she is, in which case, she should be doing a better job because she KNOWS that it doesn't stand up to the standards.

Hiring and firing in the US is very different than it is in the UK and Canada. You need to take control of the situation and set up stricter guidelines. She has to know you and S are in control and that you won't tolerate the attitude anymore. (You should have drawn that line in the sand earlier, but you didn't.) And as I said, use what she wants to get what you want. If she wants to leave early, make her leave later as a consequence of her own actions. She will quickly realize that her sloppy work is what is causing the delay in her leaving. Sure it will cost you a few quid the first day or two, but she wants time off more than she wants the salary, so use what she wants against her to get what you want. (ie Passive-aggressive)

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We do not employe so take these words of advice with a grain of salt from one that is not officially experienced in these matters.  (Did manage others in previous life)

On an evening where you and DH can sit with a glass of wine and discuss this without stress, write down all the duties she is currently failing AND the duties she excels as well as a side note of any other reasons you have to want to keep her around.  (ie - working 7 days a week, not many would be willing, honesty etc.)

Once you feel ready, seat her down in a business environment for an appraisal.  If both you & DH plan on participating I suggest you each have a section to cover but otherwise keep quiet while the other is speaking - be professional.  Praise her for things you know she does well.  Even mention how happy she seems to be with her BF.  Then say but there are things we have noticed that seem to be slacking as of late.... 

You may consider a small raise or a end of year or qtrly bonus if these things improve and stay consistent but that first there will be a period of time - 30, 60 days what ever, that she will be closely watched, then another meeting to discuss the progress.  Make sure she knows you are willing to answer questions or give her guidance during that time but she needs to ask.  

The hard thing is that you need to be willing and able to let her go if she does not shape up.  And as Maddie can tell you, finding good reliable help is not as easy a task these days.  Gillum, your question sums it up!

Best of luck to you!  Your place is far too large to handle it yourself.  Personally having 2 part time employees may be better than 1, one 3 days the other 4 or 4 for both with other duties assigned giving you a time to breath.  And you may then have a back up if one is sick or on holiday. 

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

Send her here. Apparently I have a gift for getting housekeepers to quit.

 

Seriously, tho. Not sure what your labor laws are but I would write down your issues with her, have a meeting, say she is not meeting the objectives of the job, tell her how you expect her to improve and then have her sign what you've written down.

Or, send her here. It seems I can fire employees for no damn reason at all in this state.

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I am sorry Cambs.

You will never find a perfect person however, and that is rotten to say, but true. The balance of the stress has to outweigh the job I suppose. Baby sitting is never fun when you have better things to do, but can't.

Hang in there...keep your eye on the ball! (as we yanks like to say)

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Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

Partly the problem is I am tired and she should be picking up the slack - not me and DH doing more and more of her job for her - the whole point of having her is so that we don't have to!

It took us 2 years to stop her refilling one bottle of shampoo from another ie 2 half bottles people had left - she was doing it to "save money" yes and it costs me 3 times as much in wages than the fricking shampoo cost!

in the UK its a verbal warning, written warning then sacking so this is step 1 - trouble is she has never worked for anyone but us in the UK and thinks this is normal procedure which is isn't

We kept hoping when she moved in with her partner who lives about 20 miles away and it now costs her $180 a month bus travel she might try and find a job their locally but it has not materialised as due to her size they take one look and turn her down ( I can't tell her that though)

 

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

I do not know the employment laws in UK, but you have detailed a more than reasonable justification to fire. I do believe it is time to stop worrying about her "pulling a sulk" and remind the pecking order of who is boss and who is employee. IF she is so worried about someone else taking her job, remind her to prevent that, she must do a super job that no one else can beat. No more "advances" on salary as she is not earning the one she is getting now.

You really know all this, just need a pep talk to remind you of it and refresh the starch in your spine that has gotten watered down drop by drop over time. Go get 'er, Tiger. (Rhetorical question - isn't there anyone left in the world who actually is willing to WORK (I know it is a dirty word) for their salary?)

Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

trouble is as well she is always moaning she is short of money but doesn't want to do more work

However don't want to end up in the same situation as maddie - we are heading into a busy period sept-december 15th and realistically can't be without a chamber maid for longer than 2 weeks and dying or getting in an agency person which is expensive and having worked for some before I am very suspicious of their references and security check systems.

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