Running a successful business calls for being ready and willing to handle any situation. That includes making the tough decision to let go of an employee. It doesn’t matter what the reason is; no one wants to be fired or downsized and no one wants to be the hatchet man or woman doing the firing. But at some point, you will be faced with doing this inevitable and unenviable task. The question is, how best to let an employee know that they are out of a job?
The best thing you can do is start with a plan. This is especially true if an employee is being let go for not doing his or her job as they are required. Not completing their work tasks, substandard quality of work, job burnout, harassment or other undesirable activities should be noted and recorded as proof and reason for termination of employment. You don’t want a lawsuit for unlawful termination because of non-compliance with applicable of employment statutes, so be meticulous. Have definitive personnel policies written up and be certain every employee knows about them and not only sees them upon being hired, but signs a document acknowledging receipt of the employee manual. Be sure to give both written and verbal warnings and a chance for correction of behaviors so that the worker will be on notice and you’ll have just cause.
It’s not easy to get out those words…”We are letting you go.” And you shouldn’t be in such a rush to say them. A written letter of termination specifying why and when your employee is being let go is a must (Be sure to check out our sample termination letters available for download). Once again, you want to avoid any unnecessary compliance issues. A written letter of termination explaining the detail of the firing and any actions you’ve taken to avoid it can be helpful. If things seem to be improving you may not even need to use it. If you do however, you should let the employee know immediately. You don’t know how they will react to this so it might help to have security on call (not in the room) to escort the person from the premises if necessary.
There are laws that protect workers against discrimination by sex, age, or race that one should be aware of. It's important to be aware of these regulations and be in full compliance. Review your termination policies with the management personnel in charge of carrying it out to be sure they and the organization are operating from the same agenda.
Be consistent and firm with your termination practices and you’ll find the entire process much easier on both you and the employee in a high employee turnover envirnonment.
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