Firing an employee who is not performing is nothing new, but this VP of Sales at a software company came under heavy criticism for doing so by an online forum.
Who Was The Employee?
The employee was a 22-year-old who had been with the company for 10 months, and had been hired straight after graduation for a high starting salary. The employee initially performed well, and the company was considering promoting him to a higher position in the next half year.
There Was a Tragic Accident
However, the employee suddenly lost both parents in a car accident. When he returned from bereavement leave, his performance had dropped. Following the performance drop, the company fired him, with both sides being left unhappy.
When he returned from his month of paid leave, the employee’s performance had noticeably dropped. For the 2-3 weeks before his firing, the employee seemed unmotivated, failing to make cold calls or reach out to new prospects.
It Was a High-Paying Role
The position was high paying, and the company wanted to see results again as soon as they could, eventually deciding to replace the employee rather than wait potentially months for him to recover.
After several weeks of reduced performance, the employee was called in and told he was fired. The decision was made by the management team and the VP of Sales, but no warnings or corrections were given to the employee in the weeks since he returned from leave. Most posters agreed that this wasn’t the right way to deal with the situation.
Lack of Communication
Many posters in the online forum were appalled at the lack of communication between the employee and management. There were no warnings or corrections before the employee was fired. There was no mention of calling him in to discuss the issues the company was having with his current performance.
Cost of Hiring New Employee
Posters pointed out that the cost of finding and hiring a new employee could cost more than helping get the previous employee back to his previous performance level.
There’s no guarantee that a new employee will be as good or better than the previous employee, and the business could be stuck with a lower performance level.
Training New Employees Takes Time and Effort
The time it takes to train up a new employee and this could also end up being longer than the time it would have taken for the old employee to recover.
Risk of Legal Action
Some posters though that the way the employee was fired could open the company up to legal action. Some states and countries have requirements on what steps need to be taken before firing an employee, so depending on where the business is located it could be considered wrongful termination.
Counseling and Mental Health
Many posters thought that because the company knew the cause of the performance drop, the employee should have been put in touch with HR. There he could have been guided to counseling that could help him through the trauma and depression that could be causing the performance drop.
Risk of Suicide
Some commenters were afraid that the firing could even set up the ex-employee to be a suicide risk. The loss of a steady job and the life changes that could bring on top of losing close family at a young age could be too much for someone to take depending on their state of mental health. Luckily, the original poster reached out to the ex-employee after reading those comments and confirmed that he was ok.
Loss of Team Moral
Depending on how the sales team was structured, some posters thought that firing the employee under those circumstances could cause the team moral and performance to drop.
Will They Lose Staff?
Other employees could be angry or sad after seeing what happened, and not want to give their all anymore if they don’t think the company has their back. They may even start applying elsewhere if they think they’ll be fired with no warning too.
The original post made a lot of the posters on the forum angry. Some even wanted to know the name of the company so they could boycott it. If the story happened to go viral on social media, it could cost the company business and their good reputation.
A More Realistic Timeline
Dealing with the death of family involves a lot of time and administration. Funerals need to be arranged, estates need to be settled, and obligations need to be fulfilled. The employee had a month off, but some posters thought that wasn’t enough time to deal with the situation and still have time to process grief.
They Should Have Eased Him Back
It may have been more reasonable for the company to ease the employee back, rather than expecting the same level of performance right away.
A Better Solution
Many posters thought that the employee would have gotten back on track if the company had given him more time and support. Some suggested a mentor, coaching, or mental health support to regain the previous sales performance.
He Was a Great Employee Before the Tragedy
Since the employee was originally good at the job and even poised for a promotion, it would have been more efficient to put the work into getting his performance back up than starting from scratch with a new employee.
Balancing The Needs of the Business and Employees
A software company isn’t a charity, and needs to be bringing in money in order to continue to exist. However, a company also needs good employees to continue to grow and thrive. Hopefully after seeing the feedback from the online forum, the company can be better about balancing the needs of both the business and the employees.
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