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6 Tips to follow when letting an employee go

by Yellow 332 Days

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Firing an employee is never easy. Sometimes, however, difficult decisions have to be taken in the best interest of the company. If you're sure that letting someone from your team go is the only possible solution, you need to handle it very carefully. To avoid any uncomfortable situations, and legal problems, here are 6 tips on how to lay off an employee with the least possible damage.

Plan 'the talk'

You've given your employee the opportunity to improve, or to resign, time and time again with plenty of warnings - but to no avail. It's time to have 'the talk'. Make sure an HR manager is present for the meeting, to support and witness the dismissal. Make all legal checks, and be prepared to discuss unemployment benefits and other similar issues. List down the points you want to mention during the meeting, and rehearse them with your supervisor.

Pick the right time and place

Whatever you do, don't terminate someone on a Friday. It will force your former employee to have to wait till after the weekend to begin job seeking. Instead, carry out the one-to-one meeting earlier on in the week. Lunchtime, or a point in the day when business impacts are minimised, and the office is generally quieter, is an ideal slot. Don't choose a room which is intimidating, like a large conference room. Call the employee to your office, or to a smaller and more comfortable meeting room if your office may also seem intimidating.

Be clear and calm

Be 100% certain in your decision. This will help you keep your composure when the meeting takes place. Explain to your employee, step by step, why the decision has been taken. Make reference to previous conversations or communications in which you mentioned shortcomings and dismissal, so that you're not accused of making surprising allegations. Don't beat around the bush, but at the same time allow the person in front of you to vent emotionally, if necessary. Neither of you want to be in that room. So try and make it as smooth as possible, for both of you.

Provide proper notice

You should never let someone go without at least two weeks' notice. One month is in fact the perfect amount of time, giving that person sufficient time to find another job. Unless you are firing your employee on the basis of serious company violations or consistent poor job performance, severance pay ahead of dismissal should also be practised.

Offer final advice and resources

As you and your former employee part ways, don't leave them completely empty-handed (and not just financially). Provide them with the information they need to find employment outside of your company. That information can range from reliable contacts of potential employers, to advice about employment counselling services. Maintain communication with them after they are let go, if of course they would be open to it. Keep tabs on how they're doing, to make sure they aren't left without any other future job opportunities.

Be professional but empathetic

Always let go of employees privately and in person. No one wants to be told that they've been fired via e-mail or during a general staff meeting. Treat your employee with the utmost dignity and respect. Explain to them everything that led to their lay-off. But do it in the least damaging way possible - the way you yourself would want to hear it if you were in their place. Remember that, although you need to protect your business and make sure it keeps moving forward, you're also completely changing someone's life.  

For more detailed training on how to deal with letting employees go, contact any of these
4 Employment Training Services centres. If you'd like to personally help your former employee transition smoothly into another job, there are also 41 Employment Agencies listed on Yellow.
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