Do You Fire Employees If They Don't Fit Your Company Values?

3 min read
Jun 16, 2015

Optimized-iStock_000009820624_SmallThe answer to when to let an employee go becomes clear when that staff member has committed something egregious — in the lying, cheating, stealing vein. But how do you know when to fire an honest worker who just can’t engage with the company values?

According to the Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker:

  • 88% of those who know their company values say they are engaged, while
  • Only 54% of those who don't know their company values report being engaged

Company values are a crucial element to building an engaged (read: happy and productive) workforce. So it seems clear that a disengaged worker who is out of touch with those values would be on the chopping block. But not so fast. How do you know when it’s time? These three questions should lead you in the right direction.

What’s Your Cost of Turnover?

Employee turnover can cost a company boatloads. Before making any rash firing decisions, look at the numbers. Inc estimates the average cost of turnover to be 150% of the employee’s annual salary — which of course means that the budget hit for high earners in high positions in the company can quickly skyrocket.

Think of how much it will cost to recruit, interview, hire, and train. Then add in the costs of lowered productivity during your new hire search and the training process. And don’t forget the cost of lowered productivity from overworked staff in the interim (not to mention lower morale, if that’s the case) and the abundance of lost knowledge that your employee had.

The cost will likely be high, which should send you to the next question.

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Have You Done All You Can?

Sometimes an employee’s misalignment with company values is a result of less-than-satisfactory management. Have you reinforced this with the employee and entire teams not just the values, but the company goals, and just how each is contributing daily to both?

It’s crucial for a manager to articulate clearly what’s at stake for the employee who is missing the mark. Call a meeting with the employee to have a conversation about these values and objectives. Don’t be the authoritative voice. Have them explain what they see as their role and their tasks, then how these fit into the overall organizational values and goals. Don’t interrupt. Use this as an opportunity to see if you both are on the same page, and if not, you can course correct.

Now is your chance to talk. Articulate any differences you see, sort through miscommunications, and set a clear path for success in a more clearly defined role. Then, check in to see if the employee is still not living up to expectations.

How Do You Know If It’s Time to Let an Employee Go?

No, this isn’t a copy-paste error. You as a manager have to think about how long you have asked yourself this question with a particular employee. Are you spending the majority of your time correcting their actions or behaviors? Are your other employees overworked from picking up the slack? Are you feeling like an employee doesn’t have the right attitude to change behaviors? Do they have a poor attitude in general? If you find yourself constantly absorbed by these questions, your managerial instincts are probably telling you that you know the answer already: the time is now.

Because of cost and morale concerns, letting an employee go shouldn’t be a rash decision. But holding onto a poor performing employee can be just as bad in the long run.



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