19 Jan

Handling Employee Termination Respectfully

Ben Renner | | Employee Communications

Instead of thinking of employee termination as an inevitable downside to any business or to your duties as a manager, think of it as another thing you have a plan for to avoid disaster. Employee termination is an inevitable part of any manager’s duties. No matter how large or small the department or organization, there will come a time when you have to let an employee know they’re out. It’s never going to be easy or pleasant (if you have a soul), so the best thing you can be is prepared.

Trust the Employee Termination Process

It’s easy for managers to say, ‘I’ll create a process for that,’ and never think about it again. The process is everything for employee termination because it ensures that you do it correctly. There’s a right way and a wrong way to fire or lay off employees. The right way avoids costly unemployment claims and even lawsuits that can arise from a sloppy employee termination process. The first mistake that many managers and employers make is not educating themselves about the Unemployment Insurance (UI) process. The UI system for most companies will never be uncomplicated, but too many managers don’t think they’ll have to learn it—they don’t see it as worthwhile. But it is. Any termination process has to include a clear way to navigate the UI process. Employers or managers have to fill out the paperwork and return it to the State UI Division on time. This sounds easy, but this is the point where many managers lose their way. If there’s ever a discrepancy or any chance the terminated employee could retaliate legally after their ouster, the employer at best loses their advantage, and at worst, loses their right to appeal or protest benefit charges to the employers’ account.

Sprinkle in Some Nuance

Even when you develop an easily-repeatable (hopefully you won’t have to repeat it too often) employee termination process, you must add a human touch, a nuanced approach to every employee you’re forced to let go. Like the onboarding process, an infusion of humanity is required to make the process work. The more empathy you show, the better you explain the reasons the employee is being let go, and the more kindness you inject into everything—from the tone of voice you’re using to the time of week or day you hand out the pink slips—matters. Every little detail matters during the interaction because the more the employee is informed and treated well, the less chance of a lawsuit later. There’s no reason to leave yourself open to lawsuits for inappropriate handling of employee terminations. At some point, some employees simply won’t fit and become liabilities. Mistakes will be made. Humans haven’t been replaced with androids and robots just yet. They make mistakes, and sometimes, for the benefit of the company and all the other employees, the employee termination process is necessary. The goal you should have after this process is to leave the employee with the opportunity to find another job, and ensure that you and your organization is safe from unnecessary expenses and legal headaches. An ex-employee who can find more work is much better for your long-term reputation as a manager and as a company than disgruntled, unemployed ex-workers.