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Should You Fire or Retrain That Employee?

No manager wants to fire anyone. Talk about ruining someone’s day, week, month, or even year—putting them out of work and making them go through a stressful job search. You’d probably rather work with them to overcome their weaknesses and get the training they need. But sometimes that retraining isn’t worth it.

Here’s how you know whether to invest in the training or just let go of the struggling employee.

Consider the costs of firing

Aside from ruining someone’s day, firing might seem like a quick and easy way to eliminate an ineffective employee and start fresh with someone new. But it’s not that simple. With a vacant position, you’ll have to pay your other employees overtime, or at least burden them with some extra responsibilities, which is never good for morale. Then you’ll have to pay to recruit, hire, and onboard a replacement. That transition period will probably be distracting to your other employees, costing you productivity.

Weigh the costs of training

But let’s not pretend that retraining doesn’t cost time and money, too. It might mean that you have to pay for online courses, seminars, and workshops, or even classes at a community college or vocational school. At the very least it’ll mean that this particular employee will be busy learning and not producing for a while. Or, perhaps you can rely on your other employees to work with your struggling one. It might be enough just to sit down with them for a few hours each day, teaching them your company’s procedures and systems. But this means that at least two of your employees will have decreased productivity until everyone’s up to speed.

Firing might be worth it

Despite the costs of time, money, and morale, there are times when firing is your best option. If you have an employee who’s toxic or who’s done something dishonest or damaging, let go of that person. Those types of acts can destroy your company culture, and that’s certainly not worth it. Or, if you have an employee who’s not willing to learn new skills or invest the necessary time into training, say goodbye to that person. Retraining is only worth it if that struggling employee buys in and is committed to growth and improvement. You need someone who acknowledges the gaps in their skills and knowledge and takes responsibility for their professional development.

Evaluate and decide

So now it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of firing versus retraining. If the employee is willing to pursue the training, then you need to consider the financial and temporal costs of that training against the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training. Remember that there’s no guarantee that, should you choose to fire, your replacement employee won’t end up having similar issues. You can always teach new skills and knowledge, but you can’t teach attitude and work ethic!

For more tips on managing your struggling employees, contact our team today.


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