Managing Employee Terminations

One of management’s most difficult tasks is the termination of an employee regardless of the cause.

Not only is the employee affected, but there can be affects though out the workplace. With all the potential adverse effects of a termination, the best way to handle the situation is to avoid making adverse termination decisions.

Many terminations are the result of poor hiring decisions and or poor management of employees. While employee terminations can be stressful, an employer can minimize the negative impact on the company through defined procedures.  Proper planning can also help in avoiding costly lawsuits.

Employee terminations fall into several categories, which if done correctly are proven to work regardless of size of company.

General Guidelines

  • Effective communication – provide employees with clear job expectations.

  • Have a process in place – A formal termination process should include a check list to be completed by the manager for every type of termination.

  • Comply with legal requirements – Understand the legal issues and seek legal counsel when necessary.

Terminations for Cause

  • Clearly outline job expectations

  • Clearly outline the consequences of not meeting those expectations.

  • Use a progressive discipline system to be sure that employees are given enough opportunity to improve prior to termination.

  • Be aware that some actions constitute gross misconduct and are ample justification for immediate termination without giving the offending employee the benefit of progressive discipline.

Voluntary Terminations

  • Avoid the resignation of good employees.  When it is in the best interest of the organization, try to avoid a resignation by working out differences or issues with the employee.

  • Create a plan for departure.  Immediately after notification by an employee, begin planning for replacement, training and reassignment of responsibilities.

  • Conduct an exit interview.  Be sure to use an exit interview template to ensure that you get answers to important questions, including the most obvious one: Why is the employee leaving?