In the fast-paced environment that we live in nowadays, finding the employee that is the right fit for your company can be one of the most daunting tasks. But what is much more difficult is to let someone go and terminate their employment. Being a person that is in charge of a company, a business owner, or an HR rep that is responsible for hiring and firing employees can be very stressful especially when it comes to firing someone. In this article, we bring you a comprehensive guide and rulebook on how to fire someone while avoiding an uncomfortable situation when it comes to termination.
Let’s jump right into it.
The entire process of firing an employee is one of the most challenging things that you will have to do as an employer. And if you, like millions of people across the world are not sure about what the right way to fire someone is, then worry not, we have got you covered.
When to Fire Someone
Before we get into the process of how to fire someone, we need to first understand when is the right time to fire an employee. This could be difficult especially because the employee that you are firing is somebody that was brought in based on their qualifications, was trained by the company and has spent considerable time with the company. The entire process of letting them go can be one of the most undesirable aspects of being an owner, manager, etc. in your business or company.
There are a few things to consider before you decide to fire an employee. These are the reasons for which you are firing an employee and thus you need to be clear about them. So, the right time to fire someone can be due to some of the reasons given below.
Low Level of Productivity
Productivity is one of the best qualities that one seeks in an employee. Be it small businesses or large companies, employee performance and productivity are the backbones of making them successful. So, in case an employee’s performance is on a downward trajectory even though you have offered them a performance improvement plan or multiple chances to prove their worth to the business or company. Then you should know that it is the right time for employee dismissal. This is where regular performance reviews are required so that as a manager or a business owner you know which employee has been exhibiting poor performance.
One of the most important aspects of building a successful business is the behavior of the employees. With the right mindset and goals that are aligned with the business’s goals, achieving success becomes smooth sailing. But an employee with bad behavior and low energy can put a dampener on the plans. Of course, there would be days when an employee’s performance or mindset might be off but if it becomes a permanent fixture, then it would be the right time to fire an employee. This is because bad behavior when ignored consistently can spread like a wildfire and kick in insubordination among other team members.
Client happiness and satisfaction are the end goal of any business or company. So if your clients are facing issues with any of your employees on a regular basis, then it would be a good time to fire them.
Along with the happiness of the clients, another important aspect to keep in mind while trying to run a successful enterprise is the happiness of your staff. There is a reason why disciplinary policies exist. If someone is not adhering to them or if the other employees are facing any issue with a team member and all other avenues such as mediation to sort the problems out between parties involved have been exhausted, then the only option left in front of you is firing an employee.
As a business or as a manager, you should always aspire to hold and abide by the highest ethical standards. And if an employee is found to indulging in any unethical practices, not in line with the company policy and which might be harming or even benefiting the company, then it would be the right time to fire the employee.
In any modern-day workplace, the rules and regulations regarding sexual harassment are clearly mentioned to each and every individual working there. And if someone still chooses to indulge in such an egregious act, then you have no option but to fire the employee effective immediately. Everyone deserves to have a workplace where they are treated fairly and with respect and dignity, and hence there is no place for anyone indulging in such behavior.
Unless you’re firing for budgetary reasons, you should already have a record of an employee’s poor performance or behavioral issues and documented ways you’ve tried to work with them to improve. Remember, a talk about behavior or performance can be a chance for you to help them grow professionally. But if you were diligent in working with that employee and you don’t see improvement, or you’re met with disinterest, denial, or defensiveness without any change in behavior after a few of these conversations, it’s probably time to let that person go.
These are some of the major reasons why you would need to fire a person. But recently, the whole economic outlook across various sectors in the world has been shaken up. This has been caused due to many macro and microeconomic factors. Some of these factors have been the COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation, the Ukraine war, the energy crisis, etc. These factors have caused mass layoffs across all sectors and have been a harbinger of bad news. And a majority of those layoffs and the termination process has taken place over emails which is not at all preferable. The biggest example of this is the recent mass employee firing at Twitter after Elon Musk acquired it. In the case of some people fired by Twitter, the employee’s access was also revoked without informing them. According to news reports, this has resulted in the terminated employees suing Twitter and Elon Musk for wrongful termination.
So, unless you are the richest person in the world that can weather any storm or lawsuit coming your way, going about this way to fire employees is one of the worst strategies. Another thing that a lot of organizations, businesses, and managers indulge in is Quiet Firing an employee. If you are unaware of what Quiet firing is, then let’s have a quick look.
What Is Quiet Firing
As an employee, it is one of the worst things that can happen to you. And as an employer or a manager, doing this would surely bring down the reputation of your workplace or business, either through word-of-mouth or online reviews. So, what exactly is quiet firing?
It is simply the process where the management makes the working environment so unappealing or unworkable for the employee that they quit themselves instead of having to fire employees. It is a passive-aggressive approach and can result in the workplace environment becoming toxic. Rather than talking to the employee and following the proper termination process, making the work environment hostile would not bring any benefits for anyone in the short or the long term. Indulging in such practices can bring down the morale of the entire office and in some cases can even paint a bad picture of the organization.
Now that we know what are some of the reasons why you would need to fire an employee and also what not to do when trying to fire employees. Let us now get into our step-by-step guide on how to fire someone.
How To Fire Someone – Handbook
Follow the steps given below and you will know what are the proper steps to take when firing someone.
Step 1: Inform The Human Resources Department
Once you have decided to let go of an employee, the first thing to do is to go through the employee handbook. The idea is to ensure that the grounds you are terminating an employee are in line with the company policy. After you have checked that all the details and requirements are met, the next step is to inform the human resources and the legal department. Both teams are perfectly equipped in helping you ascertain the compensation or severance pay that the employee is eligible for and also avoid any legal issues that might arise.
The HR department and the legal department will also help you with all the documentation such as a release form, etc. you need to make the termination meeting goes smoothly and the employee gracefully departs the company property.
If you are a small organization that does not have a dedicated human resources department or legal department, make sure to inform your peers about the decision and let them know about your due diligence.
Step 2: Set Up The Termination Meeting
The next step after performing your due diligence and informing all the relevant departments is to set up the determination meeting. Sent an invite to the employee asking for a meeting without getting into the specifics and always ensure that you arrange for a face-to-face meeting if possible. Make sure that the meeting is held in a closed room and not in front of other employees as doing so would avoid humiliating them.
The meeting should be scheduled at the first possible opportunity after the invite is sent out. Always make sure that someone from the HR department and the legal department is present with you in the meeting. Having them present will help the terminated employee in clearing any doubts about the legal claims, severance payment, health insurance coverage, etc.
Expert Advice: If you want to fire an employee then do it on a Monday and not on a Friday as it would give them more time and opportunity to look for new contacts during the week.
Step 3: Start Off With The Bad News
Once the meeting commences, it would seem like a good idea to give the terminated employee a context and background before telling them the difficult news. But what most managers don’t realize is that doing so would make it difficult for the person to accept the news. It has proven to be the best policy to avoid small talk at the beginning of the termination meeting and come straight to the point. Once you have conveyed the news about termination to the person, then you can give them the chance to present their point of view and ask any questions they might have regarding their last paycheck, unused vacation time, etc.
Step 4: Refer To Past Performance
The decision to terminate an employee does not usually occur instantly unless it is to some egregious action or if the company is downsizing. Hence, many managers that have conducted successful termination interviews advise that you place the employee on a probationary period before deciding to fire them. It should also include a proper paper trail with written warnings about their falling performance levels, etc. As a manager, this would make the termination meeting much easier as you can reference them during it. This would also help you avoid the off chance that a terminated employee files wrongful termination proceedings against you.
While referring to their past performance or any other reasons for firing an employee, make sure that you do not dwell on those for a long time. Keep your message short concise and to the point. Let them know in what ways they have failed to achieve what their job description was and how you did everything in accordance with the company policy before arriving at the decision to fire them.
Step 5: Listen To The Employee
Now that you have gotten over the difficult part of the conversation, it is now time to sit back and listen to the employee. But make sure that they are aware of the fact that your decision to fire them is final and nothing they can say would make you rethink it. A lot of employees might offer you feedback on their time at the organization and hearing them out would come in handy in the long run.
Step 6: Offer Information About Transition Plan
Once all the dust has settled and the former employee has accepted the fact that they are being let go, it is the proper time to let them know the transition plan. It could involve information about health insurance, termination policy, severance package, or any other information that you can provide about unemployment benefits available to them, etc. After covering all the bases, and answering all their questions, let them know who will help them gather their personal items if they are terminated immediately or how much more time they have before they cease to be your employee.
Step 7: Thank Them For Their Services
The last part of when you want to fire an employee is to thank them for their services and give them your best wishes for their future job and life in general.
Thus in a few easy steps, you have mastered the art of how to fire someone in a way that lets the employee leave gracefully and the loss of employment doesn’t become a much bigger issue than it already is.
The decision to fire an employee is a difficult one and informing them about termination can be a tougher conversation. Now that you have the best advice you can find on the topic in this article, moving forward you should be able to navigate your way through it much easier. The loss of employment especially in the economic conditions that we are facing right now can be a huge blow to an employee and it is your job to make the termination as smooth as possible.