Letting employees go is never easy, and it’s an act that both the employer and employee loathe to endure (in most cases, I’m sure).
If you’re the one doing the firing, you have to deal with a human being who is about to be cut off from their source of income. It’s even harder if they’ve been with your company for a very long time.
They’re not only saying goodbye to their salary but to the coworkers they’ve befriended and the workplace they’ve grown accustomed to. It’s never a pleasant experience.
If you are in this situation and you are unsure how to handle it, here are some tips on how you can prepare to let employees go from your company.
1. Give them Warnings
Don’t fire an employee immediately. You do not want them to get caught off guard. This only creates resentment and confusion. As an employer, your job is to give them a warning if they are not doing their job right. This can be done via performance reviews or coaching sessions. This gives employees a chance to improve. If things remain the same, they can be let go of the company without any surprises.
2. Do It Face to Face
This goes along with tip #1. Face to face communication should already be a part of your strategy for improving employee performance. But if you really need to let them go, you should also do it in person. No emails, voicemails, phone calls or chat –it should be face to face. It’s only the right way to do it.
Also, make sure you do it in private. It’s already humiliating enough to get fired. You want to spare the person their dignity by firing them in private, away from colleagues. This may mean you arranging an after-hours or weekend packing. You also shouldn’t really be sharing with other employees why someone got fired. Wouldn’t you want the same courtesy extended to you?
3. Prepare the Severance Pay
If you’re doing layoffs, make sure to let your employees know a month or two in advance. This gives them enough time to look for new employment. It also eases the transition since they are already prepared for what is about to happen.
For shorter notices, you should consider having an accounts payable systems where the salaries get automatically sent to the employees bank account. This ensures that they get paid even when they are not physically working in the company anymore.
4. Be Ready for Conflict
Not all employees will handle the termination gracefully. This is a stressful time and so it’s only normal that some will react in anger. Do not minimize their feelings by saying cliche statements like “It’s all going to be alright” or “I know you must feel terrible”. When possible, you want to a career coach to step in to provide the employee some perspective. This way, their focus turns to future possibilities rather than the past.
5. Be Prepared Legally
We live in an age where you can sue anyone for just about anything. Employment lawsuits are very common, especially when the firing is one on a protected class. Even if the separation was cordial, you can still be blindsided with a lawsuit.
This may mean you need to consult with a lawyer and ask for advice. Employees possess rights and you need to make sure these rights were not violated. So before you fire an employee, you need to have honestly evaluate their performance and documented the events and failures that led to your decision.
If you can, have a witness with you during the termination. We know this goes against tip #2 but the second person can be a fellow superior who can give support and keep the discussion on track. Like you, they also have to ensure that the termination details remain confidential.
Which of these tips did you find the most useful? Share your thoughts in the companies below.