How to Let an Employee Go

Letting an employee go is a very sensitive process. It needs to be done correctly to protect yourself and your business.  You want to make sure that you follow a detailed process, have HR involved, and stay consistent.  Below you will find several points that will help you to develop your own termination process and let an employee go the right way.

Give the employee time to improve

Make sure you have given the employee time to improve before you make the final decision. You never want an employee to feel blindsided by their termination. Give them a heads up on what they are doing and what they need to approve upon to keep their job.

Get everything in order

Have a list ready of what needs to be returned, how to leave the building, how long the employee will have benefits for, and have their last check ready if the law in your state requires you to have a paper check ready.

Choose the proper day, time, and place

Choose a day early in the week. NEVER let go of someone on a Friday. Choose a time when the business will be least impacted. A time when the office is less full like during lunch, early in the morning, or during a meeting could be best. Have the discussion in a private office not out in the open.

Facts not feelings

Stick to the facts. Your feelings toward the employee have nothing to do with the decision. Don’t attack them and be sure to follow the laws specific to your area as far as notice and severance pay goes.

Protect your business

DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! Be sure you were clear on company rules, expectations, and position requirements as well as their infractions and disciplinary policies. This will help protect you from a lawsuit and protect your company from negative feedback.

Don’t do it alone

Be sure you are not the only person in the room. An HR co-worker would be best for this. If you do not have a dedicated HR person, be sure to have other personnel in the room with you. This helps ease things and makes sure you are protected as well. Again, this is an emotional and sensitive process and you need to be sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and your company.

This shouldn’t be a surprise

Termination should never be a surprise, they should see it coming and should have had constant and real-time feedback from you every step of the way. They should understand what they have done wrong or what was not working. Lawsuits come when the employee is blindsided.

Be consistent

You want to be sure that you are consistent in your process, if you let go of someone for being late on half of his days with the company, then you need to make sure you are holding all of your employees to the same standard. Don’t drag out the process, be clear and concise with your decision and end it quickly.

Be honest

It’s OK to fire an employee for not being the right fit, just make sure that when you do so you are honest about why you are letting them go. Don’t makeup HR violations when there aren’t any. Just be honest that it’s not working out for either party involved and it’s best to end it sooner rather than later.

Do a self-assessment

Look at your hiring process, training, and development as well as your support system you have in place for your new hires. Make sure there is not a pattern of negative behavior in the candidates you are hiring. Be sure you have the best possible process in place to hire and develop your newer people.

Again, this is a sensitive process with a lot of emotion in play. It’s something that no one enjoys. Prepare yourself and stick to your company’s processes. Protect yourself and your company every step of this way. Follow the steps here and you will do just that.


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