Firing an employee is never an easy thing to do, especially if they've been at the company a decent amount of time. It's likely they've built connections with colleagues and you may even personally like them, but sometimes letting an employee go is the only option that makes sense.
Of course, terminating a professional's contract should be the last resort, and one that is usually only considered once other solutions have been tried. But when should you draw the line? When does firing an employee become the only option?
1. They're guilty of serious misconduct
Serious misconduct is the main reason why employees are fired. What this is will be defined in your organization's employment contract but normally includes stealing from the company or colleagues, sexual harassment or assault, bullying, and offensive behavior. If any professional (regardless of how high up they are in the company) is found to be guilty of this type of behavior, then your only choice is to let them go.
2. They show no signs of rectifying their behavior
Unless an employee is guilty of serious misconduct, it's likely that their manager will have given them warnings. This doesn't have to be for something dramatic like stealing from a colleague but can be smaller failures like repeatedly turning up late, not delivering on performance, or exhibiting toxic behaviors. If they show no sign of heeding warnings or taking advice on board about how to change their behavior, dismissal is usually the only option left.
3. They are the source of conflict
There's always going to be disagreements on a team, especially when professionals are passionate about their work. This isn't something you'd want to discourage but it does need to be channeled into something productive. If you find that one employee is the source of this conflict and shows no sign of wanting to get anything meaningful out of it, then you may be in trouble. Professionals that thrive on the drama itself, rather than a productive and valuable outcome, are problems for any workforce.
4. They're the office bully
Bullying in the workplace can be hard to spot for HR as it often doesn't result in gross misconduct or incidents that their colleagues feel must be reported. Office bullies often tease and jibe other employees, belittling them over time and impacting their confidence in the workplace. These professionals can have a massive impact on the morale and productivity of the office. They may think they're just 'having a laugh' or it's 'only banter' but this behavior is unacceptable in a work environment and employers must have zero tolerance to it.
5. They're consistently disrespectful
Employees that consistently undermine their superiors, other colleagues or even clients can be a major problem for employers. This disrespect can lead to low morale and productivity with the people they work closely with. Negativity is quick to spread, especially if the individual is particularly charismatic or vocal. This type of behavior is almost impossible to rectify, leaving many organizations with only one option: dismissal.
6. They just don't care
Whether a professional is guilty of any of the above or not, a lack of interest, drive, or ambition in a company can lead to dismissal being the only remaining option. It's important that employees are engaged with their work and with the responsibility of managing their career. There are a variety of ways that companies can increase morale and encourage higher retention levels but if an individual doesn't want to get involved in this there is little an organization can do to resolve the situation. Apathetic employees can be just as damaging to a work environment as disruptive ones so letting them go is often the only option.