When you create a great place to work, you also need to create a great termination experience. You may think that sounds weird—"Why would I focus my energies on the termination experience?" If you create a truly great work environment then take the time to focus on this important area as well.
Remember when you terminate an employee, they have friends who are still your employees and are watching how you handle the situation from beginning to end. Social media is another consideration—need I say more?
Depending on the type of industry, these former employees may also be your customers. We all know what happens when someone has a negative experience with a company—they tell everyone. The same can be said when a person has a positive experience.
Also, when candidates are being recruited, they may reach out to former employees of the company to ask about their experiences and interactions, so make sure you leave them with a good impression.
It's also important that when an employee leaves voluntarily to not take it personally. Like any relationship, sometimes it just doesn’t work out or it’s time to move on. Be sure to conduct an exit interview to find out the real reasons behind their decision to leave to be sure there aren’t problems you are unaware of.
When the company initiates the termination, be prepared for a termination meeting. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make it a professional and positive endeavor:
- Have a witness present
- Keep the meeting short: 10–15 minutes max
- Start the conversation by stating the reason you are there: “Your employment is terminated as of ______”
- Only state facts—don’t interject personal opinions
- Be prepared for emotions—and keep yours under control
- Take precautions not to humiliate or embarrass the employee
- Don’t be spiteful or appear to enjoy the task
- Never try to stop an employee from leaving the room
- Provide a copy of the non-compete and/or confidentiality agreement they signed when hired
- Consider outplacement. Firms like CareerCurve offer customized solutions that deliver high quality services at an affordable price
Before the employee leaves the meeting, be sure to discuss the return of company property and collect what you can on the spot:
- Security badge
- Company credit cards
- Cell phone
- Lap tops and other computer equipment
Provide a letter or checklist of the items that will need to be addressed with HR at a later time, such as:
- Benefits information: COBRA notices, life insurance, etc.
- 401K balance transfer
- How to apply for unemployment
- How references will be handled
- Outstanding expenses and how reimbursement will be handled
Once the meeting is done, ask the employee if they want to gather their personal belongings now or arrange for a time when no other employees are around. If they choose to take their belongings now, escort them discreetly back to their work area and have a box available for their possessions. In the end, let the employee choose the approach.
In a day or two, you can call the former employee if they haven’t called you first, to schedule a time to review the details on the checklist. Keep the interactions positive and respond to messages and requests in a timely manner.
Ending employment relationships are never easy but with practice and preparation, even a difficult task such as this can be improved.
HR, compliance, termination, or compensation questions?
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