I doubt seriously if any employer ever feels good about having to fire an employee. 

Even the worst employee imaginable can cause a great deal of anxiety for the employer doing the firing.


Terminating an employee for whatever reason is a confrontation.  Of course it need not be a negative confrontation but even if things are positive,  it remains a confrontation with careful words that need to be spoken.

In addition, one cannot predict how the employee will react to the news.  It’s almost like a death to a small degree in that even though you might know that it’s coming, death is final.  So is firing someone.  There are no second acts.

Terminating someone’s employment is very hard on the nervous system for all concerned, but anyone who accepts a job has to know that being fired is always going to be a part of the equation.  So is a promotion, so is quitting a job for another.

So when should an employee be fired? 

Most attorneys suggest that every employer should create a “paper trail” leading up to the firing.  This can be as simple as keeping a file with notes about an employee’s behavior with reasons leading up to the event.  In addition, the rule of thumb is that the employee should be given at least 2-3 warnings, before being fired though some employers approach a firing as: “3 strikes and you’re out.”

Here are The Top 5 Signs: When To Fire An Employee:

1.  Lying – Lying is just plain unacceptable.  There is a huge difference in telling tales and “little white lies” but when an employee is caught in a huge lie or many small lies, than the trust factor in a working relationship is destroyed or at best unhealthy.  After warning an employee and the lying continues, it just might be time for the employee to hit the road.

2.  Absenteeism or excessive tardiness – Assuming that the employer has warned an employee and the employee knows the company’s position on these issues, this kind of behavior is also unacceptable.  We are all human beings and of course there are exceptions to the rule, but absenteeism or excessive tardiness can lead to a company disease and can devastate company morale. Isn’t showing up on time at least the minimum requirement for most jobs?

3.  Employee is interviewing elsewhere – If you find out that an employee is interviewing elsewhere than obviously there is a problem.  You could be losing a vital employee which can cause a major company disruption.  This problem needs to be addressed immediately and if it cannot be mended than at least you have been alerted that an employee wants out and you can act accordingly, like conduct a quiet replacement search.

4.  Under-performance – Can your company survive with a mediocre or sub par employee? Of course not, however an employer should work with the employee and give the employee every tool and reason to succeed.  But how long should someone be given?  Of course it depends on your operation, but too much time given to an under-performer is dangerous to your success and is not fair to other very capable employees on your staff.

5.  Economics (Cost vs Value)- Employees are hired so that a company can profit.  Why else would someone be hired?  If the salary or costs (both financially and emotionally) of keeping an employee should exceed the actual value of that employee than why retain this person?  Sometimes the economy changes or a business suffers a decline in revenue and when that happens, a prudent employer needs to terminate an employee that is not providing tangeble value. 

In summay, firing someone is messy business but it may be vital to the success of an operation.  In preparation of a firing,  create a paper trail and give the employee many warnings before pulling the plug.  

Then do your best “Donald Trump” and don’t fret about it.  There is great value in terminating an employee for the right reasons.  Think of it as addition by subtraction. 


I am Bernie Reifkind, CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc.  I can be reached at 1(800) 801-1400 or email at ceo@psihealth.com.  I welcome your phone call.