Our personal habits have a way of following us into the workplace every day, and sometimes after being with the same employer for a long period of time, we can forget about some of the guidelines that were reviewed at the beginning of any new job.
There are many reasons that an employer may decide to let an employee go, and some of them may have nothing to do with performance. Some of the most common reasons that employees get fired, may seem like innocuous behaviors when the employee can demonstrate that their performance has not been impacted. But to an employer who is responsible for governing a large workforce and staff, they can be disruptive culturally over time. Here are some of the common causes of involuntary dismissal.
Inappropriate Sharing on Social Media
We have all witnessed examples of individuals who got into trouble, because of statements they made on social media. While your personal social media accounts may have nothing to do with your professional career, what you share on social can under certain circumstances, get you into trouble with your employer.
Sharing racial or religiously biased or ‘hate’ information on your personal social media or making comments that are objectionable can be grounds for dismissal, depending on the organization. If choose to share comments that are inflammatory online, your identity can be easily searched back to LinkedIn. Individuals who took offense to your comments may complain to your employer.
It is important to remember that what you share on social media is indexed by search engines and easily searchable. And if your comments or activities are in opposition to the code of conduct for your organization (particularly for executives and managers), it can become actionable for your employer with severe consequences for your career.
Consult with your human resource manager to determine if there is a social media policy for employees. Some workplaces are open to personal social media use during the business day; others are not and using your smartphone excessively or using your employer provided computer to browse the web for personal reasons, can be reason enough to dismiss you.
Gossip or Bullying in the Workplace
As a career professional in the workplace, you are not only responsible for your conduct and performance, but also for the disruption that your personal conduct may cause to other members of your team.
The goal of every organization is to provide a safe and pleasant work environment. The impetus to gossip, lie or bully other coworkers individually (or as part of a group of close-knit peers) is never tolerated well by organizations. In fact, today there is a greater sensitivity and accountability for abusive behaviors in the workplace that can result in immediate action from the employer.
Moonlighting During Business Hours
The activity of ‘moonlighting’ during business hours has become a greater concern for employers in recent years. Many professionals seek out freelance or consulting opportunities on the side, to increase their earnings. And that’s not a problem for most employers, who view it as an ambitious work ethic and an opportunity for the employee to learn new competitive skills.
Where having a side-business or freelancing on the side becomes an issue, is when the employer suspects the employee of doing some of that work during paid office time. If you are fortunate enough to have a part-time to full-time work from home arrangement with your employer, the level of concern is heightened.
Regardless of your performance or ability to get your tasks done on a daily basis, employers that discover an employee is ‘moonlighting’ on the job, generally do not provide a warning. It is often grounds for immediate dismissal as a bad-faith and moral issue.
Tardiness and Absenteeism
Every once in awhile, even the most diligent employees arrive to the office late. Whether delayed for childcare reasons or due to inclement weather, transportation issues (such as a vehicle breaking down or public transit disruption) it happens to the best of us.
And employers also understand that ‘life happens’ and sometimes arriving late is unavoidable. However, when the employee demonstrates a habitual pattern of tardiness, without concern for the ‘rules’ of arriving and departing on time, it sets a bad example for others in the workplace.
Absenteeism for legitimate reasons is never a problem for employers. But when calling in for personal health reasons becomes excessive, or when the employer suspects that illegitimacy frequent health related absences, termination is a common response.
Are you sharing proprietary information from your organization, with a competitor? Perhaps you are disclosing information that is confidential about a new product, service or trade secret that is held by your employer? Those activities are governed under breach of confidentiality in most employee contracts.
Substance abuse is a problem for some professionals, and while many progressive employers provide employee assistance programs to address drug or alcohol use, the sale, distribution or consumption of illegal substances at work can be grounds for an immediate dismissal.
Getting Your Job Search Started
An unanticipated dismissal means that job search activities should start right away. But when you are feeling discouraged about being fired, that can be easier said than done. Start with setting some new goals for yourself, and for the culture and work environment that would suit you best. It’s a good time to do a personal inventory of what you learned from your last role, and how you can apply that in your future job.
Start by evaluating what you liked and disliked about your last role. Did you feel good about the activities you were required to participate in daily? What about the office environment and location? Take some time to listen to some inspirational career podcasts or do some reading that can help you move through some of the emotions and discouragement that you might be feeling; it can give you a positive new outlook that is necessary to start your job search.
Here are some free online sources of career advice and coaching, that can help get you started:
- The Muse
- "The School of Greatness" podcast with Lewis Howes
- “The Brendon Show” podcast with Brendon Burchard
In the period of unemployment, think about the kind of training that you could do to qualify you for the kind of career opportunity you want. There are many affordable online learning resources like Udemy.com that provide low-cost training that you can add to your credentials and experience.
Every employment role teaches us something valuable about our skills and presents an opportunity to improve performance while refining our criteria about the ideal fit for a long-term role. At reesmarx, we are pleased to provide virtual career coaching services, and invite you to learn more about the advantages of working with an expert to help build a new and successful strategy.