5 Reasons it’s Difficult to Lay Off Sub-Standard Employees

October 3, 2013

bad employeesAs business owners and managers, one of the main responsibilities is staffing. Trying to find the right mix of people in terms of experience, knowledge, ambition, commitment and loyalty is a never-ending and exhausting task. It’s one of those tasks that never seems to go away, and that is precisely why those personnel changes that would greatly benefit the company or department in the long run, are avoided short-term.

Very few people actually enjoy firing or demoting employees. It is one of those truly unpleasant tasks that come with authority. The decision maker would rather spend their time rationalizing why that employee should stay in that position rather than focusing on the realization that the business is suffering because of their inability to act.

Here are some reasons why the ability to pull the trigger is always difficult:

1. There are costs associated with firing and hiring.

When dealing with employee turnover, the cost can be astronomical. You have recruiting, screening of applicants, the man-hours it takes to interview candidates, training and the lower productivity through the transition with other employees taking on more work to pick up the slack. Studies show that the expense of replacing an employee can cost up to 18 months’ salary of the position being filled. That is a very difficult pill to swallow.

2. The situation could be worse.

This particular employee is not carrying their weight, but they get along with everybody, show up on time and don’t cause any issues. Compared to previous employees, the problem could be much more magnified. It’s not the best situation, but it’s “not that bad.”

3. The boss or company could be afraid of retaliation.

Depending on the employee, there could be a concern that any personnel move could result in anything from physical violence or bad publicity to legal action. Issues of age, race, gender, sexual preference or even physical handicap can come back to bite the owner or manager if there is no perceived reason for disciplinary action or removal.

4. The employee might be a linchpin in the company, but horrible to the staff.

Maybe it’s a salesperson who spends their free time sexually harassing other employees. It could be that the salesperson knows the intricate details of a specific process or software program, but is incredibly nasty to the rest of the staff or has little value elsewhere in the company. It might be too tempting for the boss to keep that person on board since they are important to the company, when they should really be fired for sexual harassment.

5. The employee might be pulling on heartstrings.

This employee is a single mother struggling to get by. That one has health issues and needs the medical benefits. The one that is now caring for their elderly father. These issues are real, they are everywhere, and they are affecting business productivity and revenues in just about every company regardless of industry.

None of us live in a bubble, nor are we heartless. The above listed issues are real and there must be serious thought put into each situation, because they are all different. However, if as a manager or business owner, these are just being used as an excuse to not pull the trigger on something that should have happened long ago, it is time to get going and move forward.

As the decision-maker in a company or department, it is you that is being continuously scrutinized by colleagues, clients, competitors and even the general public. Especially as a business owner, it is your belief system and ideas that have helped you take your company to the level you are at now. Failing to continue with those beliefs or to follow through with them can and will have a direct effect on the company’s bottom line.

Again, nobody lives in a vacuum. We all have outside pressures to deal with. Now is the time to look at the ones affecting you and your company and reevaluate each of them.

Are you thinking of firing or laying off an employee? What kinds of things hold you back? Leave a non-specific, general comment!


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One Response to 5 Reasons it’s Difficult to Lay Off Sub-Standard Employees

  • Simon @ Modest Money

    In another life, I’d have wished to be Donald Trump when it comes to firing…look someone in the eye, point a finger at the and declare gloriously, “YOU ARE FIRED!” They can go cry all they want.
    In reality though and as you point out, we don’t live in a vacuum, nor do we have Trump’s luxury of having a ready and willing pool of replacements. Small business are run on rather close friendships and relationships and this can and does complicate things when someone has to be axed. Hypothetically, thats what I would be struggling with, how do I fire a friend who’s not carrying their own weight without impacting badly on the friendship or business for that matter?