Three tips to terminating employees with compassion and respect


Terminating an employee is a grievous experience for both parties. It is one of the hardest and most cold-hearted tasks we have to do in Human Resources, and it is a severe blow for the employee in many ways, but, it has to be done from time to time. The goal is to do it in a way that is compassionate and respectful but gets the message across. This can be easier said than done because what seems compassionate sometimes, really isn't. So, here are some tips to help you reach that goal:

Tip No. 1- Do it early

Terminate early in the week. The earlier the better. Waiting until the end of a shift on the last work day of the week seems like it would be the most compassionate thing to do because it gives them time to handle the news. In reality, it leaves them an entire weekend to worry and stress about what to do next.

Be mindful that finding a new job is the new top priority and most places do not do any hiring over the weekend. Letting them go on a Monday or even Tuesday will leave them with options and as many days as possible to land something new. This is being compassionate.

Tip No. 2- Do it completely

Finalize the termination. Have their final paycheck ready with a written list of the reasons in advance. The list presents an opportunity for learning and leaves no question as to why they were terminated. The final pay check sends them off with a means to start over.

Remember that losing a job is a major blow and nothing screams your time is worthless, adding insult to injury, like having to wait for something important to come in the mail. Finalize the process immediately and show respect for their time.

Tip No. 3- Just do it!

Don't give it a few weeks to see if things get better, unless they are improving. If they are not making progress, they are not cutting it. While this seems cold and uncaring, employees view their jobs as an investment of time and energy. The longer they stay on, the more they are invested. Being allowed to continue investing time and effort in a job that is not going to pan out is devaluing to their effort.

Be respectful of the time and effort they put out by letting them go as soon as possible. When a termination is inevitable, terminate. Do it with compassion and respect, as discussed above, but do it.

Firing someone is not an easy part of any job for either party. Being respectful of the investment they have made, finalizing the situation, and doing it early enough in the work week to give them as much access to new opportunities as possible are just a few ways to make it less painful for the employee. And you'll feel better about yourself for having to do it in the first place.


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