How To Encourage a Bad Worker to Quit

Employee contracts vary from full-time permanent work to fixed-term work, home-based work, casual work, hourly work and so on and so forth. Regardless of the mode of working, most jobs typically fall into two main categories. These are full-time permanent jobs and contract jobs. The nature of a contract job is usually time-limited and specific. Even in a full-time job, there is usually a trial period during which an employee is evaluated before a permanent appointment is made. Therefore, labor laws in most countries permit some degree of flexibility for employers to filter good employees from the bad. However, when an employee is made permanent in a full-time position, then there is little flexibility for employers to fire employees or make them redundant. For the purpose of this article, this is the situation that is being looked at--how to encourage a bad worker to quit. Also, a bad worker in this context is one who is underperforming in his or her job.

If management is of the view that an employee is 'bad' and he or she ought to be encouraged to quit the job, the objective should not be to fire the employee but to get him or her to resign from the job. It is important for an organization to take this route for safety from legal aspects. Following are a few ways in which this can be done.

  1. Communicate performance drawbacks directly. Most companies practice some kind of performance appraisal scheme or another. This sort of evaluation should be continuous and periodic. It is very important that the company has communicated to the employee about the job details in advance. This could be done by setting clear objectives at the beginning and evaluating them periodically. Should management feel that an employee is underperforming, it's very important to communicate about such performance concerns as early as possible. Following the review, a letter should be given as a warning indicating the need for improving performance. Any warning should take both verbal and written form. An employee who has already been warned should fall under close scrutiny. If there is no visible improvement, a similar but firmer warning should be issued. While this approach safeguards the company from legal situations, it gives the employer a chance to let the employee know about their dissatisfaction and also a chance for the employee to look for an alternative job. This is a direct way of encouraging one to quit his job.
  2. Allow the employee to recognize his own shortcomings and skills limitations.
    • Set difficult but achievable tasks with pre-defined timescales that are expected to be handled by someone in a similar position, but with more skill. If there are symptoms of failure, use that to highlight his/her inability to handle the job. Point out that it is expected that these situations should be handled quite comfortably at this level.
    • Put him in a team working under pressure. If he is unable to keep abreast with others, it'll become self-evident that he is falling behind. Let him understand his limitations.
    • Conduct progress meetings with the team. If tasks are delayed or undone, find out reasons from other team members. If there are any cases related to the bad worker's performance, hint about the shortcomings without directly pointing a finger at him. Criticize the situation without being critical of the individual.
    • Make it a point to appreciate those who are performing well. This is a passive way of making someone feel that he is below the mark. But make sure it doesn't affect others.
  3. Let the employee experience job dissatisfaction. Job satisfaction of an employee is determined by motivational factors. There are two kinds of motivational factors that must be fulfilled. One is monetary and the other is non-monetary. Monetary incentives could be bonuses, allowances and perks in addition to the base salary. Non-monetary factors could be the working environment, culture and working conditions. If management really wants to encourage someone to quit, these factors can be controlled to create a sense of job dissatisfaction. For example, if the company has a policy to conduct annual salary increases, stop the increases. One may or may not find out from others if they got increases. Yet the company has a good reason not to do it. Similarly, if there are any individual benefits that the employee is enjoying in addition to salary, curtail them gradually.
  4. Educate the worker about medium- to long-term implications. Educate him about the adverse health effects that could follow from being in an unhappy job and a high-pressure environment that is not conducive to work. Let him know that it is not productive for him or to the company to continue on this basis.

It is important that this situation is handled in a professional manner as amicably as possible. Do not try to be defensive and accuse him of the shortcomings. Empathize with him and show why he doesn't meet the company's business objectives. Propose alternatives that he could be looking at that may suit his skills and nature. Encourage him to look for a more suitable opportunity and get him to resign.


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A difficult work situation for sure but your comments seem to get straight to the issues.

By Margaret Norton

If these things were done to me in the workplace it'd make me want to work harder to prove myself, however I am rather tenacious. I think another open and kinder option is to talk to the person - find out why they don't enjoy their job or why they are underperforming. There could be something going on you don't know about like a death in their family. Discuss with them that they are not meeting expectations that are stipulated in their contract or job description and if they don't pick up their game they will be let go.
It's a tricky topic to write about because it's a tricky situation to be in. Nevertheless it's a sound article.

By Anneliese Bennett

This is often difficult and it is good you wrote about it

By Mary Norton