Letting Employees Go
Even the best hiring processes don’t always result in perfect hires. Hiring managers may carefully screen applications and resumes, interview the most promising candidates and check references. They narrow the choice down to a few possible hires and conduct all of the necessary employee screening checks. The best candidate passes with flying colors, and everyone agrees to make an offer.
But it doesn’t always work out. Employees don’t meet expectations, or are unable or unwilling to improve their performance. Some break company policies—or even the law. For whatever reason, every employer at some point faces the unpleasant task of letting employees go. But it’s not easy.
Because termination is an expensive process, with the potential for legal problems, experts recommend going through a standard process to protect the company from legal issues and retaliation.
- A solid paper trail of documentation will help. It can start with the hire: give all employees an offer letter or include in your employee manual that employment is at will and may be terminated at any time. Do be aware of employment laws. Not every offense is a terminable one.
- Employee manuals should be given to each employee, with clear policies and the consequences of breaking them.
- Performance evaluations or appraisals are a must, especially for new employees. Conduct them at 30, 60 and 90 days, to keep track of discussions and warnings regarding employee performance.
- Base your termination decision on performance, unless the employee has policy infractions serious enough to warrant termination, such as theft, failing a drug test, or on-the-job alcohol or drug use.
- When the decision is made, act quickly. When it’s time to tell the employee, be prepared. Gather all the necessary documentation, including any required forms for the employee to sign. Have a witness with you.
- Prepare what you’ll say, and keep it professional. If there is any severance pay, let the employee know. Keep the conversation short and don’t argue. Allow the employee to vent if necessary. This is not the time for your feelings or emotions to come in. Try not to apologize or over explain the reasons, which could cause confusion.
Of course, if you have questions about terminating employees, consult your legal advisor.