There comes a time in every pet sitting business where an employee or employees is just NOT performing up to standards, even after several warnings. Then you’re faced with a dilemma: Do I fire this person? If you feel like it’s the right thing to do, then YES! I am officially giving you permission. But keep in mind that when choosing to fire a pet sitting employee there is a specific process that you want to follow in order to cover yourself. Today HR expert Niki Ramirez, discusses the steps that pet sitting business owners should follow when you fire a pet sitting employee.
- Be straight forward about it
- Close the meeting with a strong message
- Always follow up in writing
- Follow through with progressive discipline
- If they aren’t a keeper, don’t keep them
- Compliance note
How Do I Fire A Pet Sitting Employee?
“I have a pet sitter who said she was available the shifts I needed but has increasingly become less and less available. She is always making excuses why she can’t work, asking for certain clients, and really bad at communication. I know I am a right to work state, but can I just fire her? She isn’t performing what I hired her for and honestly, I don’t want her representing me anymore. I feel like I am trapped. Help!”
Answer by Niki Ramirez, MBA/PHR/SHRM-CP
From time to time we have all had that employee who seems to be more trouble than they are worth, so to speak. Issues can really pile up, and may affect your relationship with your employee. This is pretty common.
Before you decide to fire an employee, employee relations best-practice is to provide them with verbal and/or written performance feedback so that they have an opportunity to fix the problems. Surprisingly, sometimes employees don’t know that what they are doing is causing a problem.
First of all, it is important to handle each issue one at a time. Also, in order to limit liability to the company, as well as create a culture at your organization where employees trust you to deliver feedback when it matters most, consider laying it all out for your employee before you decide to separate employment (“fire them”).
Be Straightforward About It.
Pull your employee aside (in a private location) at a time that is convenient for both of you. Now, approach each issue separately.
You can open the conversation like this: “Thanks for taking time to speak with me today. What I need to talk about is very important. I am going to share feedback on your performance in a few key areas including: attendance, client service and communication.”
Whether you employ 1 person or 100 people, you’re going to run into attendance problems at some point. To get results, consider something like this:
“Let’s start out with attendance. I count on you to be on time for every scheduled shift. When you are not available at the times that we have previously agreed upon, we cannot service clients and we let our team members down. Is there something that is preventing you from following through with your schedule that I can help with?”
Wanting to Cherry Pick Clients…
“We are so grateful for all of our clients. I understand that you have your favorite clients. I do too. However, I’m sure that you can understand that for the success of the business, we need to be ready and willing to jump in and service whichever clients need us when they need us. In order for me to keep you on the team, I need to know that you’re willing to work with all of clients that are assigned to you. If there is ever an issue with a client, please let me know. Aside from that, can I count on you to help out any client assigned to you for services?”
Addressing poor communication is important to preserve the image of your company.
Communication skills include:
- Verbal communication
- Written communication (email, letters, memos, text messages, etc.)
Depending on the particular communication issue that you’re having with your employee, you may say something like:
- “The way that we communicate with our clients can make or break the success of our relationship with them. We want to maintain excellent relationships with all of our clients. In order to ensure great communication with clients, I need you to please: ___________________________. Can you agree to that?”
Close The Meeting With A Strong Message
In order to ensure you and your employee are on the same page, close the conversation with a strong message.
Consider this, “Thank you for taking time to discuss these concerns with me. I know it can be tough to receive constructive feedback, and I’m sure you understand that I’m sharing with you hoping that you understand clearly what your job expectations are. I need you to understand that if I do not see improvement in the areas we discussed, your job is in jeopardy. What can I do to help you be successful?”
Regardless Of The Issue, Always Follow Up In Writing
Your employee discipline program may be loosely organized or might be more regimented. Either way, follow up in writing.
This could be a quick email or typed note to say: “I appreciate your openness during our conversation about your attendance today. Please let me know if you have any questions about our attendance and punctuality policy; or we can assist you in any way so that you can make it to work on time, every time.”
If you made any verbal agreements, for example, modified an employee’s schedule so that they could come in later or leave earlier on a regular basis, outline that in the written summary of the conversation. Try to end the meeting on a positive note, offering to help them as much as possible.
Follow Through With Progressive Discipline
If the employee understands what is expected of them but continues to fail to meet your expectations, formalize the counseling process with a “written warning” or something of that nature.
Remember to outline what happens next: if they indeed continue with the poor behavior or performance. Put them on notice when it is their final warning; and only do this when you will absolutely follow through the “next time” – for example: “if you are absent or tardy again in the week, you will be terminated immediately.” However, only make that statement if you know you have the willpower to follow through.
If They Aren’t A Keeper, Don’t Keep Them
You know when you think and employee is a “good fit”, and if they aren’t working out, you know that too! Only keep employees who want to be on the team, and who can meet your minimum expectations.
If employees are allowed to continue working but exhibit behavior or performance problems, they can disrupt the good work and commitment of other employees. I know that choosing to fire a pet sitting employee is tough, but be reassured that there is someone even better waiting just around the corner!
All termination decisions should only be made after carefully considering your employees’ rights under various rules and regulations. Such as, anti-discrimination laws, including the American’s With Disabilities Act, which protects employees who have qualifying medical conditions. This is a really important step when choosing to fire a pet sitting employee. If you’re unsure, be sure to contact your HR representative.
As you navigate the employee coaching, discipline, guidance and termination process, you will develop a style and process that is right for you and your company. We reviewed just a few important considerations when moving toward involuntarily terminating an employee. However, there is a lot to consider each and every time you decide to fire a pet sitting employee – and how you approach it can either create or limit liability for your company. We hope you contact us if you have additional or specific questions that we can address!
Today’s blog is brought to you by HR expert, Niki Ramirez. She is the Founder and Principal Consultant at HRAnswers.org a firm dedicated to providing impactful yet practical human resources advice and organizational development support to businesses of all sizes. Niki is a dual-certified HR professional with experience spanning over 20 years, including: serving in operational leadership roles, adjunct business faculty member, and as a human resources executive. Niki carries with her a strong desire to educate and empower employees and their leaders to work in partnership to design and implement meaningful human resources programs that drive the success of their organizations.
Be sure to connect with Niki at https://www.facebook.com/hranswers.org/