Few things you will do in the process of running a business are as unpleasant as firing an employee. But as much as you may want to avoid the situation, firing an employee may be the best option in certain instances. When that time comes, you need to:
- Decide when to terminate
- Avoid discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuits.
- Treat the employee with respect and understanding.
- Maintain a positive environment for workers who remain.
Investigate before you actIf the employee did something specific that is triggering termination, investigate the event thoroughly. Check the employee's files for signs of past performance problems. Look for alternatives short of firing.
Document everythingAt the first sign of a problem, document and save all relevant communications. Give the employee a formal letter upon firing them. The termination letter should include the reason for termination, number of days or weeks notice, information about benefits and references to all prior efforts made on your part to resolve the difficulty.
Plan and conduct the meetingThis is one meeting you really need to prepare for. You need to time it correctly, choose your words carefully and have answers ready for the questions your employee may ask.
Notify your IT department or providerIT needs to know when you're firing someone to ensure that all relevant communications are preserved, access to corporate files is cut off and no sensitive information is compromised.
Cover all your bases with a clear termination policyDevelop a termination policy, and as your company adds managers and/or HR personnel, inform them of the procedures and issues.
Explain their benefits situation and direct them toward resources.They may qualify for unemployment benefits or for medical coverage under Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
U.S. Department of Labor.
- Don't forget about security. If there is any chance that your employee might react by confronting you, you may want to have a security professional in the room.
- Be compassionate. No matter how ugly the circumstances, now is the time to draw on your powers of sensitivity. Be respectful and calm, and answer any questions you can.
- Try to time the termination meeting when there are few other employees around, for instance around lunchtime or near the end of the day.
- Keep the meeting brief and to the point.