Becoming unemployed is one of the greatest traumas of life, so there seems to be a very common desire to soften the blow when terminating an employee. You’ve heard all the euphemisms before, “We have to let you go,” “the job was eliminated,” “we’re downsizing,” but no matter the situation or phrases you choose, the person is still out of a job. And as an HR professional, your job is to do whatever you can to help them get back into the workforce.
Most HR professionals get into the profession to help people, and the majority of them have the right instincts when it comes to letting an employee go. You want your company to be known as a decent place to work, so it’s important not to get a damaging reputation when people are fired.
Terminations should go as smoothly as possible, and here’s how you can make that happen:
Follow the script
When you plan to fire an employee, it’s never a good idea to wing it or play it by ear. Using a script will cut down on misunderstandings and hurt feelings. This is especially true when a large number of people are being let go. You can get your message across clearly and quickly without rambling when you come prepared.
Think how you would like to be treated
Don’t put off firing meetings until the end of the day. It’s never good to leave the impression that you’re doing something in secret. Respect your employees by giving them the chance to say goodbye. It also helps to begin the meeting with a kind word. Be compassionate and offer a letter of reference.
Never escort employees from the building
Unless there is clear evidence that an employee may become a threat, there is no reason to usher people from the building. After all, there’s nothing more humiliating than this after being terminated.
Moderate the shock and stress of a job loss by assuring employees that they will receive help in finding a new job. Be generous with severance and outplacement services. The sooner the employee gets started in outplacement, the better his or her job search will go. For example, when GetFive gets an assignment from an HR department, we contact the employee within half an hour and assign them to a private and small-group coach.
A little empathy goes a long way when it comes to firing employees. Take the steps to uphold your reputation as an organization when you offer kindness and adequate outplacement assistance.