Should you fire that toxic employee?

Let’s face it, not all employees are a good fit for your company. Unfortunately, some are a downright drag on your business, costing you customers and affecting employee morale.

Employers usually put up with toxic employees for too long. By the time they are fed up with the employee’s behavior or sees the damage this employee is inflicting on the business, a situation may have arisen that makes it more difficult to fire that employee.

For example, imagine you’re ready to fire an employee for legitimate reasons, but now they need to take a leave of absence for their own medical condition or to take care of a loved one. Or they’ve become pregnant. Or they complain about something in the workplace they think is illegal, fraudulent, or against public policy. If you fire this employee now, each of these situations could be grounds for a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit.

To help alleviate any one of these situations, here are four tips:

1. Hire slow.

Thoroughly vet candidates before you hire them. Test them not just for skills, but for values that align with your company’s values. This is as important for the receptionist as it is for the CEO.

2. Train, train, train.

Thoroughly train your employees before you let them work on important projects or interact with your customers. Don’t ever stop training them.

3. Document, document, document.

Consistently and accurately document your employees’ performance and behavior. This will help them learn and improve. It also will provide you with evidence of legitimate reasons for disciplining or firing an employee, if necessary.

4. Address issues immediately and fire fast, if necessary.

As soon as it becomes apparent that an employee is creating problems for your company, address the issue directly with the employee. If you believe the situation can be resolved with more training and close monitoring, then put the employee on a performance improvement plan. However, don’t hesitate to fire the employee quickly if the behavior is egregious, or it’s obvious it cannot be corrected.

The BETTER course of action is to prevent this situation from happening in the first place by following the four tips I previously outlined. But if you’ve already waited too long and you’re facing one of those situations I previously mentioned — call your favorite employment lawyer before you fire the employee. Perhaps you can wait it out a bit longer or offer the employee severance in exchange for signing a release.

Are you currently dealing with a toxic employee? Give us a call at 973-787-8442 or Schedule a Strategy Session so we can help you address the situation before it’s too late.

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