April 15, 2016

Looking on the Bright Side of Firing Bad Employees


No matter what the circumstances, letting an employee go is never easy. In many cases, even when an employee has proven to be toxic for your business, many business owners tend to hesitate before going through with the firing.

Why is this? Firstly, many believe that bad employees can be reformed. They would rather offer second and third chances than have to look for a replacement.

Secondly, if you’re a small business owner, then you’re probably fretting about the money you’re going to lose to the turnover process. Also, you’re probably frightened that your team will not be able to handle the transition between the firing and arrival of a new hire while shorthanded.

It’s completely normal to have all these fears. They are all common fears in today’s business environment. However, most of the time it’s better to let go of an underperforming employee as soon as possible.

Look on the bright side. Here are some great things that can result from cutting ties with terrible employees as soon as possible.

You’ll Save Money

If you’re a small business owner, then you’re probably constantly hearing about the cost of turnover and how you’re leaking tons of money every time you’re looking to replace a worker that has left you.

All of this is true. However, you really can’t compare the situations of losing a good worker and firing a bad one. They are two completely different beasts. In reality, letting go of a bad employee is actually the prudent financial decision to make for many reasons.

Firing an employee may end up costing you money, but it’s an expense that you need to eat if you want to do what’s best for the future of your business. The fact that you have an employee on your team that doesn’t pull his or her weight – an employee who doesn’t make others around him or her better – means that you don’t have a good team.

If you move on and continue to avoid doing anything about having a poor team of employees in place, your company is losing value and, inevitably, losing money.

Get rid of the bad employee. Take the loss and move on from them as quickly as possible.

You’ll Improve Team Morale

Any time someone gets fired, there’s going to be a lot of stress surrounding your entire team. It really is unavoidable – firings are stressful situations. But when you are firing someone who is not pulling their weight, there’s a good chance that such a move could potentially relieve stress, certainly in the long run.

If your only reason for keeping someone around is to not rattle the cage, you’re doing your employees and your entire business a disservice. Small business owners have to make a lot of tough decisions, often by themselves. Getting rid of an employee is always going to be tough, but if they aren’t contributing to the betterment of your business, they are dead weight and need to go.

Here’s another thing to consider: How do you think your employees who really put in the effort and dedicate themselves to the job feel when they see someone who is doing the exact opposite getting equal treatment?

It sends a message to all your employees that you are willing to tolerate mediocrity. Why would they work harder than the employee who doesn’t work at all when there are no consequences that arise from being a poor employee?

Cutting employees that aren’t helping the team improve sends the right message to everyone else – a message that your business strives for excellence and doesn’t settle for less.

Real Leaders Will Step Up

Real Leaders Will Step Up

Another huge fear that leads to business owners and managers keeping bad employees around is the fear that the workload would overwhelm the rest of the team if it loses one member.

Sure, there is going to have to be a new workflow and your team might have to work a little harder to make ends meet during the transition. But one of the great things about times of struggle is that true leaders almost always emerge from such situations.

In situations when teams are shorthanded and need to work a little harder while they wait for a replacement to arrive, there’s always a good chance that someone on your team is going to take that opportunity to step up and show leadership qualities that you might not have noticed in them earlier.

So not only will you be losing a terrible employee, you could potentially be gaining a high potential employee. Win-win.

You’ll Improve Your Recruitment Process

If you’ve had to fire an employee that just wasn’t working out, at least you now have a template of what you don’t want your workforce to look like. When it comes to running a small business, every learning experience is a good one and gives you the ability to grow and improve the way you run your operation.

Now that you’ve experienced what it’s like to have an employee that is stifling your growth, you have a better idea of the warning signs that you need to look out for when hiring new people.

Ask yourself if there is anything that you could have done better. Did you provide the guidance and training that employee needed to become a good worker? Could you have done more?

Learn from the experience by evaluating it from every perspective so that you’re less likely to hire a bad employee again.


While there aren’t many decisions to be made in running a small business for which it can be said that it is best to simply trust your gut, knowing when to fire a bad employee is one of them.

It doesn’t mean that these people are inherently bad at what they do, they could simply be a bad fit for your company. In fact, there’s a good chance that they might be able to thrive in another one.

Also, it’s important to remember that feedback from your best and trusted employees is imperative to collect. Asking them about team dynamics and productivity can give you great insights and early warnings of potential problems that could be halted before they are allowed to escalate.