Did you know that lying on your CV, sleeping on job and turning up drunk to work could be some of the reasons why you could be sacked? Read on to know the top 17 reasons why you could lose your job. Illustrations by Uttam Ghosh
A recent survey conducted by Tribe HR, a Human Resources software company revealed 13 reasons why an employee could be fired from his/her job.
These included poor performance, complaining about your boss, being drunk, unauthorised surfing of the Internet, refusing to follow orders or directions, sexually harassing your co-worker, engaging in gossip, office politics, sleeping on job, getting caught lying or stealing, absenteeism, lying on your resume and bringing your personal problems to work.
According to Rajesh Tripathy, global HR strategic leader and founder of Cflex Consulting, Delhi some of the common reasons why employees are given the pink slip are due to "internal politics in organisations, poor individual performance and also overall performance of the organisation, (which may not be directly related to the individual)."
While saying so, Tripathy also sympathises with employees who find themselves at the short end of the stick for no fault of theirs and why they must be watchful about their activities.
"Sometimes, it is unfair that managers tend to make a particular individual responsible for an action. It is important therefore that the employee understands the true reason why s/he is asked to leave the job. Knowing the reason helps because the employee will learn to adapt to the situation and hence find a way out," says Tripathy.
Read on to find out what really makes recruiters and managers sack an employee and what one must do to avoid being in a similar situation.
1. Poor performance
Do you miss deadlines too often? Does your manager complain about your work too often? Does your performance report show stagnancy? Chances are you could be fired.
Rajesh Tripathy says that non performance is one of the prime reasons why an employee is fired. He says, when an employee is unable to perform the tasks and duties assigned to them, they become liabilities to the company and are likely to be given the pink slip.
"It is a known fact that the base of sacking employees is either their unproductiveness or financial instability of the organisation. Hence, employees should always try to contribute more, increase the involvement and perform competitively to avoid unexpended firing," explains Tripathy.
2. Dropping drunk to work
While we all agree that having alcohol at work is a strict no-no, Akash Motwani, HR manager, Right Jobs Consulting says that coming to office with a hangover from last night can equally go against you.
While mentioning the numerous cases where employees report drunk to work after a late night party, Motwani says, "If you attended a party and got sloshed the last night, it is advisable that you take the day off and stay at home than coming to work the following day with a hangover. In case you had scheduled an appointment or meeting for the following day, you should ideally avoid having alcohol the night before. Turning up at work when you have a hangover certainly paints a very sorry picture of you."
3. Unauthorised surfing of the net
The office Internet is the most exploited of resources at work. Besides work purposes like email, employees often use the internet to surf information for personal needs like online shopping, watching movies, and social networking to name a few. Also, surfing job sites while at work could be held against you.
Vrushali Mange, senior manager-HR, Perfect Jobs and Consulting Services explains why the office Internet must be used strictly for office purposes.
She says, "Most of the times your web activity could be closely monitored by the IT team in your office. If they find out that you spend more time online to meet your personal needs, they may take strict action against you.
If you are found visiting job sites, there is no scope for excuse as it clearly means that you are not happy with your job. Also, you must limit your access to your personal emails and avoid surfing and chatting on social networking sites while at work."
4. Refusing to follow orders or directions
Working in an organisation also means adhering to the orders and directions laid out by your immediate manager or team head. Failing to do so could endanger your job.
However, most of the times, the employee is not entirely at fault but refusing to execute orders from seniors can be used as a good excuse to terminate your employment, points out Akash Motwani.
"Every organisation has a vertical and horizontal hierarchy of authority that you are expected to follow. If you are working under a manager or team head, you must execute your responsibilities as told by your manager.
There may be times when you have to take an independent decision. However, ensure that you have the permission to execute the same. It is always advisable to keep a record of all your activities on email. Do not delete or discard important messages on your phone or email that involves seeking permission, approval letters or executive orders," says Motwani while explaining how these could also serve as vital evidence later in case your manager decides to use them as a ploy to fire you.
5. Sexually harassing your co-worker
You must respect your colleagues irrespective of their gender and any act that is regarded as provocative or makes the other uncomfortable by either parties has to be controlled, revised or punished upon.
While we often read in the papers about male colleagues who take advantage of their female co-worker and seek sexual favours, even women managers tend to oppress their male counterparts, argues Vrushali Mange.
She further adds that if the victim complains about the oppression to an authority, chances are the inflictor may not only lose his job but also face penal action.
"Although there is no dedicated provision for sexual harassment at work in the Indian Penal Code, it is punishable under law," she says while sharing the case of a female senior who gave a hard time to one of her male co-worker.
"This senior level manager had tried to get overtly friendly with her male colleague who was married with two kids. She would often call him to work with her on weekends when no one was around and would make passes at him.
Since this male employee was new to work and did not know whom to trust he waited till he could gather enough proof against his female manager before approaching her senior in authority who later confronted her. Embarrassed by the turn of events, the female manager resigned and moved to a different city," shared Mange while explaining why it is important to be wary of such possibilities.
6. Engaging in gossip, office politics
Watch out for what you say behind the closed doors of the office washroom and the office cafeteria.
HR experts warn that if you badmouth your co-worker to your manager or fellow colleagues and use your precious time and resources to indulge in petty politics, your own job could be at stake.
Akash Motwani says, "Engaging in office politics accounts to poor behaviour. It just shows how frivolous you are about your career. At the same time, if you are new to an oganisation, it is advisable that you keep your conversations brisk and diplomatic. Do not be judgmental in your approach from day one. Be cordial and professional in your approach at work."
7. Sleeping on the job
While this may seem like a trivial reason to sack an employee, Akash Motwani mentions why sleeping on the job puts you in the bad books.
"Sleeping on the job is almost a thing of the past today. When I was studying 10 in a school in Delhi, one of our Mathematics teachers was caught sleeping in the class. We were given a small written test to solve while he dozed off. Unfortunately, the principal of the school caught him sleeping and immediately summoned him to his office," Motwani recollects.
"When the teacher did not come to school for more than two weeks, we heard that he was given a termination letter. That day I realised that being caught sleeping on job could not only be embarrassing but will also make you lose your job."
8. Bringing your personal problems to work
You may have had an ugly brawl with your spouse or your mother-in-law the previous night, but that does not explain why you did not answer an important client's call or were rude to one of your teammates at the meeting the next morning.
"You cannot afford to give personal excuses to explain your inefficiency at work, unless an important member of your family is hospitalised or is battling a life and death situation," says Vrushali Mange adding that one must be able to keep one's personal and professional lives separate from the other.
9. Inability to lead or work in a team
When an employee is unable to perform and contribute as a member of the team, s/he could be fired.
Vidhan Chandra, director, iSource Consulting from Pune discusses the case of a 25-year-old employee from Bengaluru who was fired for his inability to participate as a team member.
"This employee had joined a leading software firm as a senior development manager. But soon, it was realised that he could neither execute the functions allotted to him as a member of a team nor could he motivate his fellow colleagues to finish the given tasks," shares Chandra.
Although the employee was smart enough to tender his resignation before being told so, he also knew that he would have been fired sooner or later for his inability to co-operate and function as a team member, says Chandra
"No matter what your job profile is, you must be able to perform and function as a member of the team. Leadership skills do not mean delegating work alone, it also means sharing and helping other team members in finishing a task," Vrushali Mange says.
10. Absenteeism, lack of interest
Lack of interest towards one's work usually exists in large organisations where the individual's individual performance does not get noticed. However, when the same employee moves to a smaller organisation where his/her work assumes relatively greater importance, the above trait will be visible to all.
"No organisation will want to have an employee who is not serious about his job profile and responsibilities. You will find many such specimens in your office who not only shirk their work but also discourage others from finishing their tasks. These people show absenteeism, are unproductive and hence, detrimental to the overall growth of the organisation. Remember the old adage: one rotten apple in a basket spoils the others. Hence, the organisation will find it wiser to sack such employees before they try to turn others like them," says Vidhan Chandra.
"Although there comes a stage in everyone's life where one's profile gets stagnated, the key is to upgrade your skills and find yourself a profile that will best meet your interests," says Vrushali Mange.
11. Lying on job, faking skills
"A good majority of employees tend to overstate their achievements in order to get a job. In case of senior level positions, there is lesser ground checking done and hence the chances of managers faking or overstating their skills are higher," Vidhan Chandra says.
Chandra continues, "There is pressure on recruiting managers to find the right candidate. At the same time, there is lack of good talent in almost every industry. Hence, both employees and recruiters indulge in some cheating to make up for this disparity.
If the hiring is on mutually convenient terms where the employee is willing to upgrade his skills and meet his targets, there won't be a problem.
However, in extreme cases where the employee finds himself in a situation where s/he is unable to deliver the performance they promised at the time of interview or in situations where certain skills cannot be learnt on the job, s/he could be asked to leave the organisation," Chandra says.
12. Stealing on job
Employees have been fired after being caught for theft or misusing office property.
Akash Motwani, mentions the case of an employee who was caught stealing office property on camera.
"This happened at a very junior level where the office boy was caught stealing office stationery items like pens and paper. Following several complaints from the office staff, the administration officer had installed a CCTV camera, without informing anyone in office, which had later revealed the culprit," shares Motwani.
Since the employee had been serving the organisation since half a decade, he was issued a warning and transferred to a different department.
Although the employee was lucky, Motwani says not many are spared in such situations and goes on to share a parallel incident, which had a much serious repercussion.
"In a similar incident in another organisation in Mumbai, an office peon was caught stealing leftover garments who later sold them for a higher price in the local market. He had been doing it for over a year, but when the management discovered about it, they decided to fire him. In fact he was also asked to pay them Rs 20,000 as damages before leaving the company," he recalls.
13. Complaining about your boss
You may have an arrogant boss and the best person to vent out your anger would be your fellow colleague who you possibly think will empathise with you. However, you must be particularly careful about who you discuss about your boss with, Vrushali Mange warns.
"Your boss may be giving you a hard time, but you must first try to understand the situation and find out whether the manager is really making an effort to get the best out of you or is s/he intentionally trying to make you feel uncomfortable at work. Find out if there is a valid reason to their behaviour."
If you discover that you have been treated unfairly, you must try to find a way to discuss it with your manager first and tell them how you feel about the same.
Mange explains why this is necessary.
"This will display two traits of yours -- that you really want to improve the situation and that you are not complaining, but merely addressing the problem. In case this strategy fails, the next step is to approach the HR manager. However, while doing so, you must ensure that you mention only problems related to your work life and how their actions have affected your career," she suggests.
14. Attitude mismatch
If your individual attitude does not match or contribute positively to the overall performance of the organisation, it's time you change your attitude or find yourself a better job.
Vidhan Chandra explains how employees tend to 'show off' during the interview rounds and sometimes portray a very antagonistic image of theirs later, which nudge managers to review their opinion about an employee later.
He says, "You may be a good performer, but at the end of the day, if your individual attitude is creating problems for the organisation you will first be warned by your immediate manager to mend your ways failing which you will be asked to quit the organisation. This happens with employees who have serious compatibility issues, do not get along with their team mates and also fail to do justice to their job profile."
15. Competition from juniors
Apparently the most ignored of reasons, HR personnel point out why you must be wary of competition from junior colleagues.
Take the example of Bikash Vohra (name changed to protect identity) who was asked to leave the company because he was unable to perform at par with his junior executive.
Vidhan Chandra says, "It is a known fact that every organisation has a healthy mix of experienced and young staff. While experienced staff tend to have a laid back attitude towards work, younger employees are committed and are willing to go that extra mile to prove their abilities. Sometimes this could be very risky for a senior candidate who is unable to keep up with the junior executive. This may not be intentional, but the human resource staff will use this as a good excuse against the elderly employee."
The natural outcome is that the elderly employee will be given additional responsibilities so that he is either able to learn and prove him/herself better or the employee will be given additional work so that s/he is unable to perform and when the pressure builds up, they will quit the organisation.
"When you face competition from a junior colleague, you must learn to use your experience to your merit. Be adaptive to change and upgrade your skills from time to time," suggests Akash Motwani.
16. Recession or lack of funds
When there is an economic crisis, almost every one's job in endangered because in times of crisis, 'the good' gets axed by 'the best'.
Neelam Shirsekar, HR manager, Hector and Streak, Mumbai explains why.
"When a company's economic stability hits rock bottom, it decides to shrink its workforce as a means to cut down its expenditure. Only the best and cant-do-without ones are retained, every one else is asked to leave," says she.
Akash Motwani goes on to add how a good number of companies also take advantage of the situation.
"There was this leading advertising firm in Pune was doing good business and was also getting good projects from clients. However, in 2008, when the recession bug had hit the country, the organisation used it as a good excuse to waiver the annual appraisals. Certainly, all employees chose not to complain about the management decision as they thought it was a reasonable clause of compromise for letting them keep the job."
While saying so, he says the best way to survive the situation is by being a consistent performer and also winning the confidence of your team mates.
"During times of recession, it is important that your immediate manager and decision maker is able to see the 'hardworking' side of you. You should use all means to prove your skills and perform ahead of your team mates," adds Motwani.
17. Illegal conduct
When you are working in an organisation, it is expected of you to follow a code of conduct which adheres to the organisation, failing which you may not only be asked to leave the organisation but are also liable to legal action.
Vidhan Chandra mentions the case of an Indian employee who misused his authority of exclusive information to sell off proprietary software causing the parent company a loss of several crores before settling down in the United Kingdom.
"The software was an expensive one and since the company's growth was dependant on the development of this proprietary software, they incurred huge losses. The employee was fired from the organisation and the parent company filed for damages. The company lost business and shut down immediately later, while the employee is still facing extradition charges in the UK."
Chandra says every employee should maintain professional ethics and also try not to misuse his authority in any way.
He says, "When you join an organisation, ensure that you read the fine print of the employee handbook. It will have a clear set of rules laid out for your execution. Kindly make use of the same. For instance, you are not allowed to share private information about your organisation to external sources. Some offices do not allow you to work outside office hours (eg freelance work). Neither can you use your influence and authority to organise meetings or conferences with the press outside office without appropriate permission. If you are caught violating any such clauses mentioned in the employee handbook of your organisation, you could lose your job."