Tag Archives: employees

Should You Fire Low-Producing Workers? Guest Blogger Alfred Poor

erase staffEmployee retention is a hot topic for employers in all industries, especially those that rely on recent college graduates for entry level positions. Employers are looking to hire the best candidates that they can, and hope that they will become productive members of the team.

Conventional wisdom states that you should focus your retention efforts on the most productive new hires. Many believe that 80% of the production comes from the top performing 20%, so it makes the most sense to do whatever it takes to keep these people. And that makes sense, to a degree.

But I encourage you to “do the math” before you swing the ax on new hires that are struggling. While Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the typical worker will stay with their current company for about five years, some studies indicate that recent college grads are staying in their first job for two years or less.

That becomes more of a concern for employers when you factor in the cost of replacing an entry level worker in many companies: an average of $20,000 per employee. When that is spread over five years, the annualized cost is a manageable $4,000 a year. Cram that cost into just two years, however, and you’re spending $10,000 a year in replacement costs for every entry level worker.

If you could get entry level workers to stay for just one more year, you’d be saving more than $3,000 a year in replacement costs. That’s money that could be better spent on more training, higher wages, or more jobs.

So why does it make sense to make an effort to work with the bottom performing 20% of your new hires? A good place to start is to look at why they leave their jobs so quickly. Fewer than one in three leave for a better offer. Instead, the majority make a parallel move to another entry level job, resetting their career clock to zero and starting all over again.

In order to understand why they make such a change, it helps to understand the background and attitudes of today’s recent college graduates. Study after study shows that they have behaviors and attitudes that are fundamentally different from those who graduated 20 or even 10 years ago. The explanations for this are complex and intertwined, but they include everything from the impact of digital communications to changes in higher education, to the influence of consumerism.

The end result, however, is that many of these young people have unrealistic expectations about life in the working world. They can have some surprising holes in their preparation, especially in the area of “soft” career skills such as communication, decision making, team skills, effective time management, and basic work ethics.

Managers would do well to reset their own expectations. Too often, I hear a manager say “The person I interviewed is not the person I got.” Rather than focus on identifying the best and worst performers among new hires, I encourage managers to take the attitude that they are there to help their employees succeed. Sure, there are some workers who simply are a bad fit or who are not going to respond to efforts to help them adjust to the world of work. But for many of these young people, it may turn out that there is one small area that they need help with, to help them feel more productive and successful. And they will be more likely to stick around.

If you can get an entry level worker to stick with their job for just one more year, you will save your company thousands of dollars. In many cases, your efforts will pay off with a more productive and happy employee who could stick around long enough to help be a part of the leadership in the future.


Alfred Poor-America’s Success Mentor for Young Employees; Keynote Speaker on Career Skills–Students, Parents, Colleges, & Employers.
As seen in Money, U.S. News, and Fast Company. To book Alfred for your next event click here: http://goo.gl/GpK568