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For the last two weeks, our owner's son has been coming to our office daily to "work". However, he can't work. There's no work that can be assigned to him, and he is constantly distracting us by demanding more work (which he actually can't do).

He is 23. He is handicapped. He uses a wheelchair and can move the upper part of his body, although not too precise. Not to belittle him, but in my opinion, he lacks general knowledge and I believe he has a form of autism (I don't know what), indicated by how he lacks consideration in interacting with people. He has never worked before.

He invited himself to work in our office because of Alice, my female coworker.

Although the situation sometimes a bit awkward because of his inconsiderate comments (not only to Alice), he is generally a nice person. However, he is distracting us by asking for work. For now, we have asked him to compile a report from invoices, which he has done very slowly. The report has already been done by Alice, and the task is given to him merely to satisfy his demand.

We have two problems if we give him (a part of) our work:

  1. He cannot be held responsible if he makes mistakes.
  2. He will slow us down, and we are already understaffed (so we can't spare a person to coach him).

The owner already knows of this, but I don't think they have realized the impact on us. I'm looking for a way to get through this without asking his parents (the owner), mainly because:

  1. The son is actually a nice person.
  2. He does not have a lot of friends. He is usually holed up in his house.

My goal: To stop, or minimize the distraction, while maintaining our friendship with him.

I'm not sure how to approach him. We've tried "You're distracting our work", "You better stay at cafe" (we are a cafe) in a joking manner, but it does not work.

I'm not sure what to do. Should I approach him? Or should I approach his parents?

*Update:** Examples on how his disability disrupt our work.

  1. He works slowly. He picked up bills stacked on his table in 5 seconds, stared on it for 20 seconds, stared on the keyboard to find the keys needed to input the data, then proceed to input the data. This consumes at least 2 minutes to complete one data entry.

  2. He occasionally drops bills, papers, or phone. We then need to pick them up for him. If we delay helping him because we're busy, I guess he will start to rant to himself that we should help him first so he can work.

Note that I'm not against him working with us, but for now we simply cannot find any "real" work for him. We'd prefer someone else assign him some tasks suitable for him.

  • I am a bit confused by your question. What are this person's qualifications? What was he hired to do exactly? Was he unloaded to you by his parents? Is he there because he's infatuated with Alice and trying to get closer to her by working at the company? Why can't he be held responsible? Do his disabilities prevent him from getting reprimanded? You focus too much on his disabilities but state too few facts. – Xander Oct 25 '17 at 6:26
  • It seems to me that the fact that this son is disabled is not very relevant. You have a 'coworker' that weighs you down, but you can't complain about him because he is the son of the boss. That part seems like a valid question to me. – JAD Oct 25 '17 at 6:57
  • @Xander Yes, people know he likes Alice and specifically asked to work in a room where Alice is (we were 3-4 people before he came). He can't be held responsible because technically he isn't an employee of the company, and he is the son of the owner. His disability does not prevent him from getting reprimanded, but we feel bad if we complaint about his pace because he's disabled. – Vylix Oct 25 '17 at 7:39
  • Thoughts for you while you approach your boss, which you really should. He is slow in his work. But he works something. Does he make you slower when you can do your work and he additionally adds a little to business? Is it possible to go on with another paper if one drops and you can pick up some more items together when you have time? Again, ask your boss what his son could do - and how. – puck Mar 21 '18 at 16:59
6

I'll take a stab at this although I think we're just hearing part of the story here.

From the information you have provided, it seems that this person:

  • is unqualified to do their job
  • is harassing an employee (maybe not too much now but if nothing is done, it might escalate)
  • is holding the team back
  • is the boss' son

Going forward with that, my best advice would be to talk with your boss, either as a team or alone. Don't be confrontational, just state the facts. Argue that you have tried to accommodate him but it's not working out. He's having a negative affect on the team instead of a positive one (inventing tasks to do still requires supervision).

But be prepared for your boss going into defensive mode. You need to consider all angles and be realistic. This could easily lead to you being fired. If your boss goes into the defensive and can't admit that there's a problem, don't push it. Instead gather evidence and present them again at a later date. It would help if you approached the boss as a team instead of a single person.

Unfortunately you're at a disadvantageous position here since you're an employee and that's your boss, but what your boss has forced upon you is unfair. If I'd have to guess, I'd say that your boss either tried to unload his son on you, his son manipulated him into giving him a job at your workplace so he can be close to Alice or both.

Note: I am not familiar with Indonesian culture, so I would advise you to pass all the answers here through a filter before following any of them.

  • Very clear and simple answer @Xander. Crucial part: "Going forward with that, my best advice would be to talk with your boss, either as a team or alone (...) But be prepared for your boss going into defensive mode. You need to consider all angles and be realistic. This could easily lead to you being fired." __ I appreciate and upvote! – English Student Oct 27 '17 at 11:21
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The guy is not just your boss, you said he is the owner of the company. You also say that he already knows his son is slowing you down.

My conclusion from this is that your boss considers looking after his son to be part of your role!

Perhaps an alternative discussion you could have with your boss is about reducing your workload now that you are looking after his son? That could bring him around to seeing what effect his son is having on productivity.

The interest in your female coworker is more worrying though - unwanted attention in a workplace is a law suit waiting to happen. Whether Alice or yourself should speak to your boss about this depends largely on what sort of man he is, and what sort of relationship you have with him. I hate to generalise, but some parents of disabled children can be hyper-sensitive and over-protective. You'd have to be very careful about what you say.

  • "The guy is not just your boss, you said he is the owner of the company. You also say that he already knows his son is slowing you down. My conclusion from this is that your boss considers looking after his son to be part of your role!" __ I know: my sister's employer, who is a doctor and co-owner of a major hospital, tells her employees: you are here to do whatever we tell you to do. Don't tell me it's not in your job description. If you are unwilling you can look for another job elsewhere. Owners of private companies are similar worldwide: very perceptive answer @Astralbee, and I upvote! – English Student Oct 27 '17 at 11:28
  • 2
    I like the comment about the reduced workload. Presenting the situation in a way that is about accommodating the son rather than point out the the son is a hindrance. Though I'm a little disappointed that these parents are not perceptive enough to realize their sons limitations in a work place. The OP and the parents may need to brainstorm ways for the son to work effectively and efficiently according to his skills and abilities. – doctordonna Mar 21 '18 at 17:06
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It sounds like you need to talk to the father privately.

If the son needs companionship or work or a therapist/mentor/an adult babysitter, the father is the only one who has the power to mold the son's environment to fit his needs (all the while trying to minimize any feeling of embarrassment his son may experience from being told 'no').

For instance, the father could hire someone who specializes in special needs.

Or perhaps the father could send him to a summer camp or a specific training program.

Or perhaps still, the father could allow Alice to work from home.

Now don't get me wrong, I do not know if any of these solutions are feasible. I do not know very much about your workplace at all. You know about your workplace. And only the father will know what he's able and willing to do himself with the kinds of resources he has available to him.

But as an employee, you definitely don't have that kind of power yourself. Also, blurring the lines between personal needs and work and asking you to take on those additional responsibilities, is unfair to you and unfair to the rest of your team, especially when you're already understaffed and you're expected to maintain your normal workload.

Besides, the workload is not even the big issue. This is not the type of work you originally signed up for. This is not the type of work you're passionate about or have even been trained for. And from Alice's perspective, this is probably not the kind of attention she wants while she's working. A normal workplace is not a dating pool where the owner's son can just pick and choose which female employee he sits next to.

And I don't care how nice the son is, or how much the parents appreciate what they believe is happening, but someone needs to burst their bubble, rather sooner than later. The son needs boundaries. The son needed boundaries right from the first day he came to his dad's workplace.

2

I would take a completely different approach.

I asked in the comments if he had been trained to do this work because it makes a big difference. Any new employee to an organization is going to be a little slower than the people who've been doing it for a while. So, maybe don't make it about his disability?

Granted if he has mobility issues he'll likely have a harder time with some things, but try to be patient. Even if he is on the autism spectrum, that doesn't mean he isn't capable of doing the job. I'm on the spectrum and I do pretty well for myself.

Where possible try to be a little more accommodating. Not condescending, just accommodating. If he can't reach something he needs to do the job, consider moving it. These little things make a big difference in these situations.

Give him a little while to acclimate and learn. Be patient with his questions, and keep in mind that he's not only learning how to do the job, he's also learning the company culture.

If, after a few months, he still can't hack it, talk to him about it directly. If that doesn't work, then consider talking with the owner.

  • But the OP didn't really answer your question in the comments. They replied that this is this person's first job - not that they're qualified/trained to do it. – Xander Oct 25 '17 at 6:35
  • @xander "Has he been trained to do the work before, or is he just starting fresh?" And the response was "No, he has never worked before" whether it's "No, he has never worked anywhere before" or "No, he has never worked with us before" the answer still fits. – apaul Oct 25 '17 at 6:40
  • @apaul, It's not just a training issue. If it was just a training issue, the office could just lay off Alice and give her work to the son to avoid the duplication of work. – Stephan Branczyk Oct 26 '17 at 10:35
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If you think of the new employee as an intern, you might be able to resolve these difficulties.

Interns, legally, are typically given work experience, but the work product they produce isn't necessarily used.

Make up some work as a learning experience that will help him to learn and grow, but is not demanding of you and other's time.

You've already started doing this, but I think rather than giving him real work you're actually doing or in need of, you need to create work that requires even less hand holding, even if you don't need it.

Make his job about learning to type, and have him "work" for an hour a day on that, then give him a job researching something online so he can learn the skill of searching online, give him a job of communicating business information to others so he can learn how to email, phone, etc others and report important information.

Treat it as job training - an internship - and you might find that shift in your approach resolves the issues you've been having.

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