Firing someone is never easy. Even when you know they’ve got to go, there’s always a chance the episode may turn sour. An ideal termination is like a no-fault divorce: Both parties simply agree things are over and walk away.
However, as with a divorce, there may be times when breaking it off with an employee isn’t a straightforward, clean departure. It’s crucial to handle an employee termination with great care to ensure your business maintains a strong reputation within the community and to protect your organization from possible legal action stemming from wrongful termination accusations.
We’ll share six indications that it’s time to let an employee go and explain how to terminate an employee ethically, legally and thoughtfully.
So how do you know if you should give your employee another chance or if it’s best to cut ties with that person altogether? Here are six signs that it may be time to terminate an employee.
A productive business is a successful business. If your business productivity is down, it may not be because an employee is slacking. However, reduced productivity is still a strong sign that something is wrong.
If a certain employee is constantly struggling more than others or frequently misses their deadlines, it may be a sign that they aren’t up to the job. Most companies allow for warnings and reminders in situations like this. However, if you’ve given an employee numerous chances and enacted a performance improvement plan that hasn’t panned out, it may be time to let that person go.
Some people thrive on office gossip, drama and pot stirring. This behavior creates a hostile and challenging work environment, leading to insubordination and a lack of trust. Over time, after constantly being pitted against one another, employees may have difficulty working together.
Unfortunately, some employees enjoy starting rumors, bad-mouthing management and finding ways to cause trouble. These people are toxic to your organization and are unlikely to change, regardless of how many warnings you give them.
If employees aren’t willing to train, pursue professional development or improve themselves to keep up with others, they’ll be left behind. Employees who can’t keep up will drag you down.
If they don’t want to fix their mistakes or work to improve issues stopping them from being valuable team members, then let them go. Sometimes, people do not have the business skills needed to push your organization ahead, which means they’re holding you back.
You can’t afford to keep someone around who is creating issues for your customers and vendors. According to Dixa, 39 percent of consumers won’t frequent a business after just one bad experience, and 95 percent will share their negative experience with others.
Most people won’t come directly to management to address a bad experience. If you hear about it, you’ve likely already lost business. You can’t let a problematic employee affect your bottom line.
Sometimes, employees unintentionally break the rules. However, if they’re consistently breaking rules even after being reprimanded, they just may not care. In some cases, you can institute a three-strikes policy. Other times, a single violation is enough to indicate the employee has to go.
When it comes to criminal violations and safety offenses, no employee should be surprised that they’re getting fired. However, every employee should be well aware of your business’s policies and the penalties for breaking them. Examples of critical policy violations include weapons in the office, theft and substance abuse.
Occasional tardiness happens to everyone. However, when tardiness and workplace absenteeism happen repeatedly, you have a right to take action. While you should have a time-off policy, every absence costs you money, which hurts your business.
Here are five steps you can take to terminate an employee.
Before terminating an employee, you’ve likely given them ample opportunities to improve and stay with the company. It’s essential to document any issues that have arisen and how you handled them.
Every time there’s an incident, write down the date, what happened and any warnings you gave the employee. Written documentation proves you made every effort to work with the employee before firing them.
Once you’ve made the decision to terminate an employee, you must determine when their last day will be. The best time is usually toward the end of the day on Friday because it will be the least disruptive for them and your other employees. It also gives the person the weekend to process what happened and make plans for moving forward.
Ensure you conduct the exit interview in a private location to prevent interruptions by other employees. Firing an employee is a sensitive matter, so you want to give that person the privacy and respect they deserve.
Bring a checklist to your exit interview to stay focused and on-topic during the meeting. Explain why you’re terminating the person, and give specific examples to support your reasoning. You should also let them know what will happen to their healthcare, 401(k) plan and any other employee benefits the company provides.
Let the person you’re terminating ask questions, and answer them as honestly as possible. Everyone reacts to a termination differently, so let the person process the news how they need to. However, it’s best to avoid arguing or getting defensive.
Justin Walker contributed to this article.