4 alternatives to the sack

When an employee’s performance is less than shining, it can be tempting for employers to begin seeking ways to exit the employee from the organisation. The decision to let someone go is never easy, not only because it impacts significantly on their wellbeing and livelihood. Terminating an employee also means having to invest in the recruitment, induction and training of a replacement staff member, which can be a substantial burden on time and resources. Below are some points for employers to consider before sharpening the axe.


Effective Performance Management

Too often managers are “performance management shy”, this may be for a range of reasons from lack of skill in providing feedback to fear of being labelled harsh or a bully for making negative comments. Prior to considering termination for an underperforming employee, employers should ensure that a proper process is followed, making the employee aware of the issue and giving them a chance to improve.

Interestingly, anecdotal evidence from iHR consultants who provide HR advice and conduct workplace investigations, mediation and inquiries, shows that many situations escalate from a manager’s avoidance of an issue when they become aware of it. This highlights the need for employers to provide performance management training to managers.


Invest in training and coaching

Once an issue is identified, training may be all it takes to start the process of improvement for an employee. Some employees may require one to one coaching in order to understand where their performance is sub-standard and to develop strategies to improve. If it is not practical to provide this internally, employers may consider engaging an external provider to coach an employee.

The investment in workplace training or coaching is likely to be much more cost effective than terminating the poor-performer in order to then recruit a new employee and train them afresh.



When an individual is failing to meet the standards required of them in one department, you may find redeployment can offer beneficial alternatives. Allowing the employee to move to a new role could result in the individual finding a position in which they can truly thrive. Exploring other opportunities which involve less of the tasks they find difficult and utilise their strengths more will make the employee an asset elsewhere in the business.

It is also worth considering that it may be the people or environment, rather than the work itself, that is affecting the employee’s ability to perform. In this case, redeployment to another team could also be a positive possibility.


Consider flexible working options

If an employee is struggling in their role because of personal circumstances, options for flexible working may assist.

When possible, allowing an employee to work from home or attend different hours can encourage a healthier and more effective work-life balance, enabling them to manage their personal responsibilities and professional obligations.