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Letting staff go is never an easy decision to make, and rarely a smooth process, but in some circumstances, it can make sense to make more of an effort to retain employees in the long term.

Research from company formation experts, Turner Little, recently revealed the 10 most common reasons why British employees have been fired in 2018, with poor performance and excessive personal internet usage topping the list.

While these present fair grounds for dismissal in many cases, too much socialising during work hours and excessive toilet breaks and sickness for instance, could be easily avoided by amending internal working practices and adopting a more laid-back managerial style.

Here we look at 5 approaches business can take to prevent staff putting themselves in the ‘firing’ line in the first place.

1. Be flexible

We already know that flexible hours and the option to work from home is rated highly by the UK workforce – a poll from YouGov found that 70% of employees want to be able to work outside of the old-fashioned 9 to 5; and a CIPD survey revealed that working from home is already available for 42% of workers.

Often, commute times and congestion can be a common reason for lateness, and even contribute to tiredness and low productivity. If employees had the option to start earlier or work from home, businesses may even see a reduction in absenteeism and sickness.

2. Open door policy

Sometimes, poor performance or high absence rates could be related to something going on in an employee’s personal life. It could also be down to them struggling with stress and workload or having issues with a colleague.

If you promote an open door policy, and be proactive in getting to the bottom of potential issues, productivity and attendance could quickly improve.

3. Offer training programmes

When employees are failing to meet deadlines or complete their work effectively, first ask yourself as a manager whether you’re asking too much or if the skills requirement have changed. The job specification you hired for may have evolved, and staff members could be finding it hard to keep up.

Recruitment can be time-consuming and costly, and it may be a better idea to move the employee into a different role or department or finance some additional training, so that the historical knowledge of the business they have built up is not lost.

4. Encourage work socials

The upside of working in an office compared to working from home or for yourself is the camaraderie you get with fellow colleagues. Spending hours gossiping instead of working is unacceptable, but exchanging the odd nicety and catching up on the weekend can actually be beneficial to your business.

Employees who get on tend to work better together in a professional capacity too. In fact, you should encourage social interaction and if you do so out of normal working hours, you can minimise time spent chatting in the office.

5. Adopt a firm but fair managerial style

It has been said that people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers. The type of management style you adopt will very much be down to your own personality and the right approach will also depend on the type of industry and organisation you work in, the size of the business and the existing culture.

If possible, however, try and be reasonable without being a pushover and you’ll find that employee loyalty and job satisfaction will lean in your favour.

When there isn’t an excuse

Of course, there will always be situations when the excuses run out or behaviour is completely unacceptable. If you can say honestly that you tried and have followed the correct dismissal procedures, then letting an employee go could be the best business decision you make.

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