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June 25, 2018

Top 10 Reasons Why Employees Get Fired

There are so many reasons why employees might get fired. And while there doesn’t appear to be a survey which actually validates the top 10 reasons employees are fired for, here is a list of some of the more common reasons that employers let employees go.

Not Performing the Job for Which They Were Hired

Poor performance is probably one of the most frequently cited reasons why employees get fired. The reason is that it can mean so many different things to so many different people. It’s one of those catch-all reasons for firing an employee.

If employees move too slow, make too many errors, don’t meet defined performance standards, ask too many questions, miss deadlines, lack a sense of urgency, use poor judgment or seem lackluster in their performance, it is all heaped under this single category.

Taking too Much Time Off from Work

Work can be stressful. It can make the idea of climbing out of bed in the morning a hard pill to swallow. So it’s understandable if employees occasionally call in sick when they’re really not. However, doing this too much can get employees fired.

According to this Reuters (News - Alert) article, “Fewer U.S. employees fired for faking illness: survey,” 15% of employers fired employees for being absent without a legitimate excuse, down from 18% the prior year. The reason for the decline? Over one quarter (28%) of employers felt that employees were taking the time off due to the stress over the recession.

Arriving Late to Work or Leaving Early

Here’s the good news about tardiness: there’s been an upward swing in employees getting to work on time. The article, “Survey: Employees on time for work more often,” indicates a decline in employee tardiness, from 20% in 2008 to 15 % in 2010. Speculation has it that many employees are more and more fearful of losing their jobs.

However, according to this article, “Want to Commit Career Suicide? Here’s How”, 30% of companies say they have fired employees due to tardiness.

Stealing from Their Employer

Even taking the occasional paper clip or pen, or using the copy machine to make personal copies is an act of theft. Employees who steal could find their heads on the chopping block.

An Inc. article, “Four in 10 Managers Have Fired Employees for Theft,” indicates that while only 10% of workers admit to stealing, nearly 40% of managers have fired employees for theft. Keep in mind that this includes cases of taking office supplies, company tools and even petty cash.

Using the Company Computer for Personal Business

Anyone who has spent any time in the workplace knows that nothing can get employees fired faster than using the company computer for personal business. Employees who like playing games on the Internet during the day, checking out their Facebook (News - Alert) friends or watching porn out of simple boredom or because they have an addiction to pornography, need to think twice before doing it on the company computer. Today’s technology can track their every move.

Gossiping and Bad Mouthing

A related survey conducted by TheLadders (News - Alert).com, an online marketplace for $100k+ jobs, indicates that excessive workplace gossip (36.5%) came in second behind bad language (38.4%) as the top reason for firing employees when it comes to bad manners.

Okay, it used to be that badmouthing anyone at work was something that occurred in secret where no one except closely trusted associates could hear. No more. Now bad mouthing goes on in public on the Internet.

Drugs or Drinking on the Job

In the same survey from, drinking on the job (35.2%) rounded out the top three reasons managers fired employees for bad manners. Though drinking on the job hardly qualifies as having bad manners, the effects of drinking can cause someone to misbehave.

Conducting Personal Business on Company Time

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that conducting personal business while at work can get employees fired. After all, every employer has the expectation that when someone shows up for work they’ll put in a solid eight hours.

That means things such as looking for another job, conducting a side business and taking too many personal calls (number four at 28% in survey) while at work can all get someone fired.

Dishonesty and Lying on the Job

Dishonesty on the job includes things such as falsifying company records (i.e. expense reports), lying to the boss (especially at the expense of someone else) and falsifying information on an application or resume.

In this article, “Lying on Your Resume: How Far to Stretch the Truth,” writer Marc Cenedella (News - Alert) indicates a survey of business owners revealed that 47% of respondents said hiring mistakes were caused by a job seeker who lied in an interview.

Having Inappropriate or Bad Relationships on the Job

Employees who don’t get along with others or who get along so well that they wind up in an inappropriate relationship may find themselves fired. Employees who are poor team players, date and break up with the boss or sexually harass coworkers are just a pink slip away from losing their jobs.

Keep in mind that being fired for cause is different than being laid off. Layoffs are due to economic issues. Being fired for cause, on the other hand, is due to an employee’s actions.

Author: James Galloway is a professional educator and freelance technology writer. He is also a lifelong learner with a master's degree in educational technology from the University of Northern Iowa. His articles will entertain as well as educate on a variety of topics.

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