An HR best practice: How to terminate an employee
Most business owners and HR managers consider terminating an employee to be the most unpleasant of their responsibilities. The manager who wakes up, considers the coming day and thinks, “I can’t wait to fire so-and-so,” is rare … and maybe shouldn’t be a manager.
Terminating an employee, even when due to performance issues, requires sensitivity, with a few exceptions. Even the most tolerant manager might check her sensitivity at the office door for flagrant offenders, such as those willfully breaking company policy or the law.
A termination that is due to sub-par performance should not come as a total surprise to an employee. Ideally, previous meetings have been held with the employee to suggest ways for improvement, and this would be documented in his file. If this has been done, and performance is still lacking, and you no longer expect future improvement, termination might be the best option.
Be sure to prepare every detail of the termination meeting. Plan on doing the following:
Before the meeting:
- Inform your HR director and attorney of your plans to terminate the employee.
- Arrange for another manager to be in the meeting. You should have a witness to the conversation.
- Notify security that you will be terminating the employee.
During the meeting:
- Meet privately in an office. (If the employee has no personal items to gather, you might want to meet near an exit to allow him to leave discreetly.)
- Explain immediately the purpose of the meeting, acknowledging that you have bad news, as that’s how he will likely view it.
- Stick with your planned remarks. Cover everything the employee needs to know (pay, health insurance, vacation, severance, outplacement service, etc.).
- Give him a letter that confirms the termination in writing and provides him with all necessary information.
- Allow the employee to respond, listen to him and patiently answer his questions.
- Collect keys or access cards and any company property such as laptops, cell phones, etc.
- Thank the employee for his service to the company, and refer him to an outplacement service. (You may not feel the need to do this if the termination is due to willful misconduct.)
After the meeting:
- Escort him to his desk if he has personal items to get and then to the exit.Inform the staff that he is no longer with the company, providing as few details as possible. It should remain a private personnel matter.
- Make sure receptionists and/or security guards are aware that he is no longer an employee and should not have employee access.
- Change any security system codes and access codes for WiFi, computer systems, software, etc., both in the office and for remote access.
At TriStarr, an HR consulting firm and employment agency in Lancaster, PA, we can further advise you on firing, and on hiring as well. Our recruiters can help you find candidates, as well as screen, interview and assess them. Whether you have full-time positions to fill or need temporary administrative staffing or professional staffing services, we can save you time and effort.
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