Hiring Wisdom: What Do You Do With the Employee From Hell?

Illustration by istockphoto.com
Illustration by istockphoto.com

I recently made a presentation to the Association for Residential Cleaning Services International which included a discussion about “the employee from hell.” Shortly after, one of its members sent me this sad story:

We all know that it’s hard enough to get “quality” resumes/applications, let alone hiring to keep great employees. It just seems to be a frequent comment in this industry.

I recently interviewed a few potentials candidates. After assessing each of them, I settled on a 21-year-old lady who just moved to this area. Her references were all excellent working both in a hardware store (customer service skills) for last four years as a seasonal student and worked for two years seasonally at a Bed and Breakfast and Cabin Resort cleaning cabins and the Bedroom Suites in the main lodge.

At the hiring meeting prior to her starting, we discussed my expectations about hygiene, overall appearance, acceptable clothing, being polite to customers and explained that my clients homes are “Their Castles” – no matter how they are kept – and my strict No Smoking policy. I instructed her to bring a pair of clean indoor shoes, water and her lunch. It took about 1 hr for this process, she said she understood and signed the agreement conditions to her employment.

Since this girl doesn’t drive, we had agreed I would pick her up at a central meeting place and it was her responsibility to get there on time for pick up. Once I arrived, I soon realized I was in trouble!

She wasn’t freshly showered, she wore no under garments and it was very obvious, her hair wasn’t pinned back and she only carried a small purse with her. She told me she didn’t realize I meant she needed indoor shoes on the first day even though I explained insurance and personal safety.

I lent her a work shirt for the first day so she would look semi-respectable (I don’t give out until first week complete). Once we got to the job site, it was like she turned her ears and eyes off to training and any kind of work. She simply created more work for me and made my workday far longer than needed (more than the extra 30 minutes for training allowance per house) and at the end of the day I took the work shirt back to wash thoroughly and told her I won’t be needing her anymore. I paid her in cash and made her sign a receipt for wages at that time.”

Have you ever had an employee nightmare like this? What did you do? How did it end?

Have you now found a way to prevent hiring malfunctions? Would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.