5 Steps to a Dignified Employee Termination Process

November 15, 2018

To maintain the integrity of your business, it is important that employees feel respected, whether they are just being hired, or being dismissed. That said, you may want to reevaluate some of your HR strategies to ensure this integrity.

Here are the 5 steps to a dignified employee termination process.  

  1. Be Honest

It can be tempting to sugarcoat the termination process, but the wise employer will resist this draw. While it may first seem appealing to approach a dismissal in a more positive light, this can actually have an inverse effect on the terminated employee.

If an employee’s behavior or work ethic has reached a point that warrants dismissal, this is a sign that they are beyond improvement when it comes to their role in your business. Attempting to deliver the message softly may offer false hope to the employee and contradict what you mean to communicate.

There is no need to accost a terminated employee, but it is important to be clear and honest about what behaviors led to their dismissal. If they aren’t a good fit for your business anymore, perhaps they will learn from their mistakes and improve for their next employer.

  1. Be Considerate of their Time

In most cases, a termination meeting should be short and sweet. There is no point in belaboring a conversation that can be delivered briefly.

Keep conversations to only the information that is necessary to communicate. Ensure that the employee has a clear idea of why they are being terminated, but also be aware that they may want to make a quick exit to gather their things, tend to their emotions, etc.

You may also want to think about the time of day that you conduct a termination meeting. It may not be considerate to have an employee work an entire day only to fire them at the end.

Regardless of what time or for how long, be sure that the termination meeting is considerate of the employee’s time.

  1. Be an Active Listener

A termination meeting should be led by an HR professional or other superior, but it shouldn’t be a one-sided conversation.

The employee who is being terminated may have more to share than just an emotional outburst.

A termination meeting may open the door for an employee to be more honest about their work practices and the work environment as a whole. While these comments should be taken with a grain of salt, they may also introduce important insight on the daily operations of your business.

Use a termination meeting as an opportunity to listen to the dismissed employee’s thoughts and feelings and, if possible, glean information on how to improve in the future.

  1. Be Objective

Terminations often involved deep-seated emotions, especially if a termination is long overdue. Even if the termination seems justified, a termination meeting is NOT an opportunity for catharsis.

It is highly likely that the employee being dismissed will be emotional in response to the meeting. This is an opportunity for you, as the employer, to demonstrate your maturity and professionalism.

Safeguard against the temptation to harangue employees by fully preparing yourself. The potential for emotional outbursts is why is it necessary for your HR professionals to have a clear plan for every termination meeting. Your HR strategies for dismissal should ensure that the staff in charge of firing can present an objective case for termination and clearly explain why the employee is being fired.

Termination meetings aren’t the place to let out pent up anger. The greatest demonstration of your professionalism as an employer is your ability to stay cool under pressure. Make sure that this extends to employee dismissals as well.

  1. Be Aware of Your Limitations

At the end of the day, you can only do your best to conduct a termination in a dignified manner.

You cannot force an employee to feel a certain way about the situation, nor can you control their reaction to bad news. But what you can do is present yourself as a true professional.

Try not to beat yourself up too much if an employee responds poorly to dismissal. Just hold up your end of the bargain by being professional, objective, and polite while communicating honestly with the employee. Their reaction is up to them.

Termination meetings are something that most employers would prefer to avoid, but improving this process is necessary for human resources development. If your small business is seeking HR consultation for help in this area, the HR experts at Commonwealth Payroll & HR have the knowledge and experience to help your group reach its potential. Call us today at (978) 599-1500.

Compare Plans View Demo Self Assessment Subscribe to Insights