Why bad employees don’t get fired

Posted on November 7, 2007


Source: CNN, Tag Goulet 

If you’re like most people, you have probably also experienced the frustration of working with someone who made your own job more difficult.

In both cases you may have wondered, “Why don’t they just fire this person?”

Firing someone may seem easy in theory, but it is often a last resort for an employer. […]

1. The employee has a relationship with someone higher up.

A relationship doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic or family, although either is a possibility. In many cases, the relationship that keeps someone from getting fired is friendship.

The bad employee may not perform well on the job, but may be a golf or drinking buddy for your boss, or may simply be someone that senior management enjoys having around the office.

2. The boss relies on the employee.

According to Terence R. Mitchell, Ph.D., author of the business text “People in Organizations: Understanding Their Behavior,” when a supervisor depends on an employee, the supervisor is less likely to attribute poor performance to the employee’s ability or attitude, and more likely to attribute the poor performance to forces beyond the employee’s control.

3. The employee brings more value to the company than he or she costs.

Maybe the employee who jokes around and wastes other employees’ time at meetings is also a brilliant worker whose productivity has resulted in significant revenue for the company.

4. The boss thinks it could be worse.

Even if everyone knows the employee is not pulling his or her weight, management may fear that a replacement could do an even worse job. This fear is compounded if the company has previously had other people perform more poorly in the position.

5. The boss is afraid of the employee.

If there are concerns that an employee might sue the company or possibly become violent if fired, it may take longer to let that employee go. If there’s a threat, the company needs to consult with legal or security experts and put appropriate measures in place before letting a bad employee go.

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