image of question markImagine this situation: you have a new employee that has been thoroughly trained and working independently. After a few days of passing inspection, you see the quality of her work decline.

Since she has been doing it perfectly for a few nights, you know that she fully understands the scope of service. Let’s imagine that this position is in a building that requires many specific procedures, and training takes longer than usual.

At this point, the only choice is to address the quality issue immediately. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she forgot, even though she has a checklist.

Since it’s the first time and she is new you decide to show her exactly what was missed. You show her exactly what is to be done and she agrees and understands.

A week goes by and all is well, then it happens again. You see the quality of her work start to slip. Now what? You really like this person and they really know how to clean, they are choosing not to or trying to cut corners.

Should she get a second chance? If this is the only issue then I would say yes. But it has to be a written warning for incomplete work. Ever battle an unemployment claim with an employee that you fired?

Trust me, firing someone for poor quality won’t fly, at least not with the NY Dept of Labor. Since they can’t quantify the definition of ‘quality’ you are better off writing this person up for ‘incomplete work’.

I do not like it when one of our employees has to be ‘written’ up as they call it. But the bottom line is that you as the employer must show that you gave this person a fair chance to correct the problem.

You have to show clearly that the employee was warned that if it happens again, employment will be terminated. This is when it helps to have a payroll service that offers HR guidance. Most small cleaning services cannot afford to have their own HR department.

There are stand-alone HR consulting firms, but they can be costly. Here’s what I have learned from being an employer:

  • Documentation is key, always have written job descriptions and good employee records to show if needed.
  • It’s up to the employer to prove their case, the labor departments usually show favor toward employees.
  • Always have a witness when addressing incomplete work issues or firing someone.
  • When you fire someone on a Friday there is a lower chance of an incident. (Oh wait.that’s from Office Space)
  • Keep a record of any correspondence with an employee, don’t get into texting or email arguments about employment issues.

There will come a time when you have to fire someone, of course, it’s a last resort.  In my opinion, it’s better to work with someone and give them a second or even third chance that to start all over again.

There have been times when I made a firing decision too quickly. There have also been times when I let someone stick around for waaaayy too long. Being an employer is not an easy task and when it comes to second chances, it’s not always cut and dry.

I admit- I enjoy the business more when someone else is making the hiring and firing decisions. Remember to always do what’s best for the business and the client, even when it’s not an easy decision.