Of all the difficult tasks a supervisor might have to perform, terminating the employment of an individual might be the toughest emotionally. In addition, the ramifications of conducting a termination can be traumatic; there is always the threat of the unknown such as a lawsuit or even, potentially, an act of violence. Not handling a termination in the proper manner can also cause a loss of morale in the remaining employees. Using the information contained in this title will allow you to properly conduct a termination, covering all the items that can slip through the cracks. This book is part of the HR Skills Series designed to help managers plan for and manage changes in such areas as consumer demand, workforce turnover, production, and performance standards.
Table of Contents
- About the HR Skills Series
Chapter 1: Alternatives to Termination
- Fairness IssuesBefore reaching a decision to terminate, it is important that you ensure that you are being fair to the employee. This means that you are satisfied that you have given the employee the chance to perform his or her job correctly. The following are some of the questions you should consider before reaching a termination decision.
- Chapter 2: Termination Planning
Chapter 3: Communicating the Termination
- The Five-Stage Response ModelGenerally, people take bad news in five stages. Understanding how the terminated employee might be feeling is essential if you want to help him or her move through these stages and deal with the termination.
- Conducting the Termination MeetingThis is a serious meeting. Set the tone for the meeting from the moment you are in direct contact with the employee. It should be clear from the beginning of the meeting that the purpose is to tell the employee important information about his or her job with the organization. Don’t give the employee the false impression that this meeting was called for any other purpose. “You’re fired” shouldn’t be the first words you say to the employee, but you should not engage in any small talk either.
- Other ConsiderationsThere are other things that must be done or considered during the termination meeting.
- Focus on What Is Going to Happen NextOnce all these matters have been addressed, focus this meeting on what is going to happen next for the individual. Review how company benefits will be affected by the termination such as delivery of final paycheck, benefit continuation, 401K savings accounts, pensions, vacation pay, bonuses, and stock options. Be aware that certain state or local laws can dictate the timing of any unpaid money that is owed to a terminated employee. You may need to have all funds available to the individual at the time of notification of the termination or within a certain period of time. Check with your Human Resource department if any such laws or regulations exist.
Chapter 4: Other Termination Planning Considerations
- CorrespondenceSome organizations’ policies dictate not to send a termination letter that states the reason(s) why an employee was terminated, believing that it will be upsetting to the employee, and that it serves no practical purpose at this point in the process. Such a letter may cause certain legal problems later on concerning the actual reason for termination or aggravate an already upset former employee if there are already security concerns. The employee has already been informed that he or she has been fired; there really isn’t any need to send the terminated employee a letter that repeats the same information. In other organizations, the only notification received is a termination benefits letter that just provides the date of termination and summarizes all the benefits that the terminated employee is entitled to receive. This termination benefits letter can serve as the official notice that the employee’s employment ended and when this occurred. Review any organizational policies and procedures concerning termination letters in your organization or contact Human Resources for guidance.
- DocumentationCreate a written record of the events leading to the termination in case it is needed for unemployment compensation hearings, a legal claim against the organization, the internal appeal process that may exist in the organization, and so on. Again, consult your Human Resource department to understand what documentation concerning the termination you need to create and keep.
- Employee AssistanceMany organizations offer some kind of an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides counseling services to employees at little or no cost to them. Providing such services to former employees who appear to be having problems with a termination helps them deal with these difficult circumstances. Be sure you have this contact information available to give to the employee when you meet to discuss termination.
- Process for AppealIf the employee wants to appeal the decision and you have an internal discipline or termination appeal process, make arrangements for this to happen as soon as possible. Again, this is something that you should review during the termination meeting.
- Safety and Security, Systems, and Intellectual PropertyGive some thought to everyone’s safety and security when you terminate an employee. There are circumstances when a terminated employee may be a safety threat to employees and even the facility itself. If you have even the slightest concern, meet with your security and Human Resource departments to prepare for this potential danger. Your organization might need to decide to provide security guard services to protect your organization’s employees and facilities for a specific period of time, beginning with the termination itself and for some time afterward. You should also notify your local authorities that you have these concerns so that they are aware in advance of any potential problems.
- Who Should be ToldYou will need to decide what you need to communicate to the rest of the organization. Obviously, those who worked with the terminated employee need to know that he or she is no longer employed with the organization and will not be returning to work. Depending on the situation and organizational structure, these communications may need to have a broader reach than just the terminated employee’s immediate work group. Depending on his or her role, you may need to plan for a communication to be sent out to a larger group, even the entire organization.
- Helping Coworkers Deal with the TerminationYou might not want to discuss the details of the termination with other employees, but you still should be aware that some people may be upset about the fact that a coworker was terminated. Without going into any details, you can still assure coworkers that the terminated employee was treated fairly and that he or she was provided with assistance to deal with this situation. Despite the reason or cause of the termination, the terminated employee’s coworkers will be concerned about his or her well-being, and will feel better knowing that the person is being treated fairly and respectfully.
- Replacing the Terminated EmployeeOnce all the other planning areas have been attended to focus your attention on other practical matters, such as how you will get the work done without the terminated employee. First, get approval to hire someone to replace the employee. Once approved, begin recruitment activities after the termination. In most situations, this can take some time to accomplish. In the interim, you may need to reassign the work to other employees or make arrangements to have it completed in some other way. Understand the extra burden this places on others and respond accordingly.
- Following UpYou need to ensure that any commitments made to terminated employees are kept, such as providing outplacement or EAP services. Also, any payments owed to the employee should be made in a timely manner and sent to the proper address. Delays or problems with reimbursements or wages due the employee will only serve to unnecessarily aggravate the employee.
- ConclusionTerminations are difficult and even traumatic for everyone involved. Unfortunately, there are circumstances when you simply have no other choice but to terminate an employee. There are many things that must be considered and addressed before you inform the employee, and the more prepared you are for dealing with the termination and what follows, the fewer problems that may arise as a result.
- Title: Terminations
- Release date: January 2009
- Publisher(s): HRD Press
- ISBN: 9781599961873