How to Let an Employee Go - Zupnick Associates

(by Andres Rojas)

Whether it’s motivated by an employee’s actions or a sudden contraction of the economy, letting employees go is always an uncomfortable task. Still, there are many things you can do to make the process run smoothly and avoid setting up legal complications in the future.

So whether you just started your HR career or are a veteran in your department, here are some useful firing tips that will ease the experience for both of you.

Keep it Private

Getting fired can be a humiliating experience. Indeed, studies show that being laid off can instantly trigger feelings of shame, self-pity, and cause depression in a person. Keeping the process behind closed doors will help both preserve the soon-to-be ex-employee’s dignity as well as your workplace morale.

The time and place you choose to fire an employee are just as important as the words you use. Find a conference room or office where you can talk privately and schedule a face-to-face talk during a lunch break or another time when business is slow. That way, the employee can have the space they need to grieve privately without worrying about what others will think.

Get Everything in Order

Pick your words carefully. What you say to an employee you’re firing could either lead to an amicable termination or a lawsuit.

You shouldn’t attack the character of the person but you shouldn’t beat around the bushes either. If the employee was incompetent or unproductive, then write down what rules or industry standards (if any) the employee violated so you can go through them in your meeting.

Focus the discussion around the facts, have all the documentation you need at hand, don’t get personal with the employee and you’ll be surprised how smooth the meeting goes.

Make It Quick

Although there isn’t a perfect way of firing someone, it’s usually best to do it quickly. Instead of dragging out the conversation with explanations, try keeping the termination under 15 minutes.

Once you have given your reasons, take a couple of minutes to provide actionable advice and answer any questions your ex-employee may have about the last paycheck, unemployment benefits, job references, etc.

Say goodbye and let the person know you genuinely want to help them. Remember that this ex-employee might soon work for your competitor or even go seek legal help. So, it’s in the interest of your company to see your ex-worker employed again as soon as possible.

Ensure a Speedy Departure

Once the termination process is over, everything should be in place for the ex-worker to leave your company building as soon as possible. Keep a checklist with you that includes everything the ex-employer will need to surrender or take before they leave, such as:

  • Keys or door passes.
  • Company-owned electronic devices – such as smartphones or USB security keys.
  • Personal belongings – if they can collect them after work or on the weekend, all the better.
  • Delete their company digital accounts so they can’t access your network or database.

Planning these steps will ensure that the termination process is quick, smooth, and protects your company at all times.

Talk With Your Team

Employee turnover is a fact of life in the office. Even so, a firing can make workers feel uneasy about their future.

If you aren’t transparent with other employers, they might start wondering whether they are next. Moreover, if the former employee was well-liked, the firing could damage the workplace morale and strain relations between workers and management.

To prevent gossip from adding fuel to the flame, remember that retention relies on understanding. So make time to discuss with your co-workers how this firing will affect them and make these reunions as fun as you can to reinvigorate your team.

Letting employees go always has the potential to bring complications – such as wrongful termination lawsuits or poor office morale. But if you are prepared and deal with the termination process tactfully, you can both walk away and still stay on cordial terms.

So make sure you put these termination tips to practice and if you need any help, you know where to contact us.

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