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When is it Time to Let an Employee Go?

When a new employee is hired, hopes and expectations are high that this person will be a great addition to the team, bringing their skills and experience to the group and helping move the needle forward toward greater shared success.

Unfortunately, sometimes that just doesn’t pan out. Maybe it’s just a rough start, or maybe the person just isn’t a good fit.

Here are a few indications it’s time to make a clean break and let the employee go to find greener pastures elsewhere:


Ego prevents constructive criticism from registering.

An employee who thinks they know everything, especially when they’re new to a position, is a red flag. This person will do what they can to undermine a manager’s direction and authority and could bring morale down across the whole team. This is the definition of a bad apple spoiling the bunch and is a problem that needs to be addressed sooner than later.

Always late or leaving early.

We all have obligations outside of work and sometimes emergencies come up. That’s understandable! But when this is a regular occurrence, not just a fluke event every once in a while, it should start to raise some questions. Someone who is not committed to showing up to work, on time, every day, is someone who is not giving their all to their job. That means other people are being asked, or forced, to pitch in and cover for this person, a practice that isn’t fair to anyone on the team. Employees can begin to resent a colleague who isn’t doing their share, which creates a bigger problem for managers.

Lying or otherwise being dishonest.

You need to be able to trust your employees: to do their job, to be honest with you, to be up-front with their colleagues. Someone who doesn’t do that, who hides the truth or flat-out lies about their work, is problematic. What are they hiding and what might that cost you in the long run? A problem with the truth can quickly become a bigger issue. Besides, if you can’t trust someone in your employ, how are they helping your organization at all?

No sense of pride or ownership in their job.

Someone who doesn’t respect their job, or declines to take ownership of their projects and responsibilities, is someone who will eventually start to do less and slow down productivity. Someone who doesn’t care about what they’re doing will quickly erode the patience of the people they work with as well. Just showing up for a paycheck without making any real investment in their work is a person who’s wasting your resources, especially when other people might be glad for the same opportunity.

A bad cultural fit.

Most employees, unless they’re fresh out of school, will have some previous work experience, which means they might have some baggage from previous managers and places of employment. Part of the onboarding process should include a discussion of your company’s culture and expectations. If someone comes in with grudges and chips on their shoulder that prevent them from embracing and fulfilling this new start and new opportunity with your company, they might bring everyone else down. If your team is otherwise filled with people who “buy-in” to your corporate culture, but one employee fights with or goes against those standards, it will weaken the integrity of your workplace.


Ready to add to your team? Sterling Personnel can help you find great candidates!

It’s never a pleasant thing to have to consider letting an employee go. Time, effort and resources were put into hiring this person, but trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole causes frustration and stress for everyone and it won’t solve the problem. It’s best to shake hands and part ways.

Luckily, Sterling Personnel has great job candidates ready to step up and fill in the gaps. Contact us today for your staffing needs!