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To Terminate or Motivate?

You come in to your office each day to an employee who lacks motivation and does the minimal amount of work to “get by”. He or she may leave early or come in late, all too often. Maybe they spend too much time surfing the web. You may have avoided terminating this person because you don’t want to expose yourself to the “risks” of termination or deal with the time it takes to replace him/her, all valid thoughts to consider. Yet, consider the repercussions of not terminating this person.

When an employee is not motivated to do their job and their performance is not up to par, it can affect more than their own productivity. Other employees are seeing a lower work standard set. Employee morale may be impacted. In addition, you spend time and energy to coach and monitor this person. All of these issues affect the focus of the business and ultimately, impacts your bottom line.

Before terminating this employee, there are steps to take to mitigate risks of litigation. Ensure that you have provided this individual with feedback regarding their performance or lack thereof. Have you been conducting performance reviews that show where the employees’ performance needs improvement? Is he/she aware, through face to face conversations or written documents, that you are not happy with their effort (site specific actions) or commitment to the organization? If you have given them verbal feedback, make sure you have documented and filed those conversations.

If you feel confident in your ability to terminate this person with minimal risks, know that now is a good time to replace this person. Your recruiting efforts will reap many more candidates than you have seen in recent years. With the economy still down and the unemployment rate high, there are plenty of eager candidates available, making your chances of finding that employee, who may shine, that much easier.

Terminating employees, while a difficult decision, is not one to be taken lightly. However, it is an undertaking that should be considered if there are legitimate, non discriminating reasons for the action. It is always advisable to consult with an HR Professional or an Employment Attorney before taking action.

If you decide to keep this employee on payroll, at least until you have been able to provide proper documentation, remember that feedback to employees should not just be about what they are doing right or wrong, but specific actions that need to be taken to improve performance. You may be surprised to find performance improving with direct communication and that the employee can be a productive member of your team.

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