Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hiring and Firing

Never fun, the second part of the hiring equation.  Kevin and I can each probably count on two hands the number of employees we have actually fired over the course of 25 (25!!!) years as owner-operators.  It can happen for any number of reasons - and our handbook names the most heinous: theft, and illegal drug or alcohol use.  We will put up with a lot before it reaches the point where termination is the only solution, sometimes to the detriment of the kitchen or dining room.  Usually an employee we are unhappy with is also unhappy with us, and will eventually leave of their own volition.  But sometimes you have an employee that you have tried and tried to get through to, and nothing ever improves or changes, and the problems they are creating are causing wider issues throughout the business.  That's when you have to bite the bullet and just let the person go. 

In Maryland, employees work "at the will" of their bosses.  This means the employer can fire anyone for any reason - except for those obviously discriminatory.  The boss doesn't like your hair color - you're fired!  Doesn't care for the way you cook an omelette?  You're fired!  Doesn't like the people you hang out with?  You're fired!  Seems pretty harsh, doesn't it?  Unless you are a union member, there aren't a whole lot of protections in place for the employee.  The reason for being a "hire at will" state? It supposedly makes for a better business environment.  The ACLU stance on this practice, which it deems as "outmoded and unfair", denies this theory, suggesting that many companies and countries are pretty successful while still protecting the liberties of their employees.

That being said, in a small operation such as ours, one disruptive staff member is all it takes to affect the morale and competency of all of the others.  It might take a while, we will put up with a lot and do our best to make the situation work out, but when all else fails: you're fired.

A Post Script: We currently have 10 full-time and 12 part-time staff members.  Number of W-2s we are handing out for 2010?  42.

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