Toxic Employees: 3 Types of Employees to Fire, Sooner than Later

Are all of your employees perfect in every way? Of course not. But you are only as strong as your weakest link. So, here are three types of...

Most small business owners would rather not have to fire their employees. In fact, hiring a new employee, “in terms of cost, means more than just the salary which can be substantial all by itself. But add in the cost of recruiting, training and more, and the dollars start growing,” according to Investopedia.

Not to mention the possibility that, at times, the hiring mistake was “mea culpa” – i.e. you hired someone that you knew would not be a great fit for your organization, but needed the manpower short-term.

Nolo.com, a site that helps small businesses find answers to everyday legal and business questions, explains that, “The law gives employers a great deal of leeway in deciding whether to fire an employee…” Firing an employee due to misconduct or underperformance is often necessary and warranted. By now most are familiar with the term “at will” employment, a concept that means either the employer or the employee is free to end the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice or cause. You may even want to pay some employees to quit.

Are all of your employees perfect in every way? Of course not. But you are only as strong as your weakest link. So, here are three types of employees that you should probably let go, sooner than later.

The Complaint Artist

Negative Nancy is her name and whining is her game. The complaint artist is always feeling pained, dissatisfied and ultimately resentful. What Negative Nancy does not know is that there is a clear difference between complaining and discussing topics in a constructive way. It lies in our attitude – our motivation – for speaking in the first place.

Excessive complainers and whiners are toxic employees that will negatively impact team morale. Psychologist, Michael Cunningham, Ph.D., explains: “Unhealthy complainers bellyache to anyone who crosses their path … chronic complainers get stuck in victim mode, and that irritates the people around them…” He asserts that, “bad complainers are annoying at best, depressing at worst.”

It is important to first understand the underlying causes of an employees’ dissatisfaction.  Do your best to learn why he or she is unhappy at work. If you take time to listen, complaints can provide insight into your organizational blind spots and areas for improvement. However, if the complaint artist insists, “it’s me not you,” and that he or she is just not that into your company, it’s time to part ways.

The Slacker

The rest of your team is looking around for the memo they missed to understand why The Slacker is still employed. This type of employee is biding his or her time and it’s evident by the fact that he or she never get’s anything done.

Work, assignments and general productivity are foreign concepts. The slacker’s overall laziness has impacted his or her overall performance – while warnings, disciplinary action and one-on-one chats have proved ineffective. If you are at your wits end, address performance issues early.

Carolyn Stoll Sokol, founder of PEOcompare.com (a company that helps match small businesses with Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs)) asserts, “A lazy employee is undesirable. Period. Fortunately, as the small business owner, you have the opportunity to address and correct this problem.” Sokol suggests, “First, speak with the employee. If improvements are not made within a reasonable amount of time, speak with an [HR consultant] for your options.”


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