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My sweet employee who is 83 has been dedicated to my business for over 10 years. She has only the best intentions but her actions are disappointing my clients and I’m losing business/ reputation due to her lack of clear communication and numerous clients have contacted me now and complained. I don’t know how to handle it. Help!

83 and still working but probably some kind of decline.

You are in a business and need to protect that business. If you know the family you may want to warn them that you need to retire her. You need to figure a way of letting her down easy. Be honest, tell her there are numerous complaints and clients leaving because of her good intentions. That you feel its time for her to retire. Give her a severance pkg. Maybe do it as a layoff and then she can collect unemployment.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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This is interesting. I have a family member that worked in an office setting until age 80. I suspect there were many of the same issues you mentioned going on. The owner told her they were concerned about her safety getting in and out of the building and that it was a huge risk for all. Somehow she accepted this and retired. The owner gave her a nice retirement celebration. That seemed to work for her. This is a hard topic.
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Reply to Sunnydayze
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Are you able to reassign her to tasks that do not involve client contact?
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Reply to Geaton777
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I once hired an elderly lady to assemble products, she was 75. Easy work and we were glad to have her. She needed company, a place to go and a little money.

She passed away while working for us and I'm glad to have given her some calm in her life. Her name was Dorothy.
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Reply to lovinghb
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This isn’t a personal matter. It’s a business decision. Can you afford to lose business? Do you want your reputation damaged? Positive word of mouth advertising is fantastic! Negative word of mouth advertising is destructive to your business.

Do you have legitimate reasons to let her go? Would you prefer to give her the option to resign? Are you willing to discuss with her what your customers are telling you? If you discuss the matter tactfully, she will see the position that you are in. Hopefully, she would want to remove herself from her position with your company.

Best wishes to you and your employee.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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If you don't want her to retire, is there another position she could do that wouldn't have her interact with clients?

Have you advised her of the client complaints? If you haven't then maybe you should find a tactful way to give her this information. How badly does she need to work - financially? If you have no other choice you may want to find a tactful way to suggest she needs to retire.

I think it is wonderful that you are concerned about her welfare and just haven't fired her.
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Reply to cweissp
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Is it possible for her to have a non customer facing / contact role? As you don't say what your business does and what she does within it it is impossible to look at options for an alternative role.
If this is not going to be possible, can you reduce her hours on medical grounds?
I think you have to start off trying to be nice and accept this is very important social interaction and feeling needed for her, but obviously your company cannot maintain someone who is having a negative effect.
You could ask your customers what they suggest and be honest with them and see if they can deal with it by going round her, or maybe some work from home.
It is impossible to emphasise enough the need to feel useful in an older person, but equally they need to realise that certain things are becoming beyond them. Try and be positive, sit down with her and have a chat about how she is finding things as well as how your customers are having difficulties - she may actually be keeping going because she feels she owes it to you and would actually like to do less. Until you start having the conversation you won't know how it will go, but don't try and plan it to the last detail - it won't go the way that fits your plan, it never does - just have notes on options and things you want to cover and start with an open mind. Best wishes to you both.
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Reply to TaylorUK
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Myownlife Jun 11, 2021
Excellent answer! Too many people want to document for legal purposes and basically then fire her. Companies would be much better off in the long run if it was a place of encouragement and team support, rather than, oh a problem employee, get rid of them.
(1)
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Save your business and her dignity. Let her resign.
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Reply to vegaslady
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MaryKathleen Jun 11, 2021
Inside of resigning, how about retire her with a party or luncheon.
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I posted earlier, but have been thinking about this. Yes… at the end of the day it’s about business. However, this is lady is an individual that obviously is dedicated and wants to remain busy. Is there some way to restructure her job to tasks she can handle? Can you ask her to go part time? Can you ask her what her retirement plans are? My husband owns 3 businesses. I understand how difficult this is. He just went through something similar with his mom! He gave her tasks she could do efficiently.
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Reply to Sunnydayze
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Myownlife Jun 11, 2021
I think your answer is the kindest way to approach this sweet 83-year old who you obviously care for.
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I’m sorry you are in this position. I employ an 80 yr old. She’s not as sharp as she used to be but still so great I’ll be very sorry when she is gone. Since I don’t know what type of business you have or how big a deal her mistakes were, it’s hard to to comment.
How much extra business do you have because you have an 83 yr old working for you? I’d look for a way to promote her.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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