HR Insights 2 min

How to Deal With an Angry Employee [Before It’s Too Late]

March 20, 2018

Handling an angry employee can be intimidating. Whether you’re nervous that they’ll lash out, concerned about how you’ll respond, or wondering what you can do to best protect the company, there are many things to consider. In a perfect world, angry employees would give you at least 24 hours of notice so you could review policies on how to deal with angry employees and plan your response before they get mad.

Unfortunately..

That’s not the world we live in. That’s why it’s important to proactively think about how to handle an angry employee. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of things to consider, always do, and avoid doing when dealing with an upset employee.

Consider This First:

The 24-Hour Rule

Think back to the last time you were really angry. Remember how your brain buzzed with irrational thoughts, how hot your face felt, how your chest felt like it might explode? Anger is an emotional response.

If the concerns of an angry employee don’t need to be addressed immediately, consider asking them to take the rest of the day off. This allows the employee to address the problem the next day instead of in the heat of the moment. Time often brings perspective, and perspective often leads to more rational behavior.

Bringing Backup

Backup might not always be necessary when dealing with mild irritation. However, it’s never a bad idea to invite someone to sit in on tough conversations to corroborate incidents (and offer some moral support). An HR colleague or the employee’s manager are usually good choices.

Even worse..

If the anger of an employee is, or potentially could be, coupled with any hostile behavior or violence, don’t be afraid to call security or law enforcement. One of your HR responsibilities is to ensure safety for your employees. Sometimes backup is necessary to do that. Finally, an incident report helps maintain a record of any violent occurrence or workplace mishap while making sure the same mishaps do not occur in the near future.

The Deeper Issues

Problems like failing relationships, financial stresses, unexpected deaths, feelings of inadequacy weigh on your employees regularly. When an angry employee has an outburst, it’s likely that the work issue was just the last straw in a long line of back-breaking struggles.

Discouraged employee looking at computer

Kelsie Davis
Copywriter

Kelsie Davis is a copywriter for BambooHR. Her mission is to help HR create more strategic and impactful initiatives by researching, analyzing, and writing about all things HR—particularly topics helping HR professionals engage, attract, and retain employees.