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Employer’s handbook for Employee Firing: Tools and Tips to Navigate the Sensitive Terrain

Content Team

Last Updated: 3 August 2023

Letting go of an employee is challenging. Employee firing tends to be a pragmatic decision that companies make to improve the business, but employers must also consider how it affects fired and retained employees.

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Dick Grote, the author of How To Be Good At Performance Appraisal, said, “Firing is the single most difficult thing we ask leaders to do.” Also, “It’s not the people you fire who make your life miserable. It’s the people you don’t.” 

This shows that layoffs are a necessary evil that HR must handle cautiously. We can’t determine if it is right or wrong, but we can humanize the whole process if a layoff is necessary.

 Understanding the Employee Firing process

According to the ADP research institute report, 76% of HR executives want to develop employee skills and find internal positions to prevent departures. They need to be prepared well in advance.

Legal framework for employee firing: HR has to ensure that the employee firing complies with local, state, and federal laws. These can be anti-discrimination laws, wrongful termination laws, or collective bargaining agreements (CBA) between employers and labor unions.

Establishing a clear termination policy: HR must have a termination policy that mentions the reasons for the firing. It should also include the steps to be taken in the process and the rights and obligations of both the employer and employee.

Documenting performance issues: The company must report an employee's performance issues. It must include warnings, actions taken against him, and the opportunities provided to him for improving his performance. This is crucial evidence as to why it led to employee firing.

Conducting a fair investigation: The employer must conduct a fair and impartial investigation before deciding to terminate the employment. It should involve interviewing relevant people, reviewing evidence, and giving the employee one last chance to tell their story. Finally, the decision should be unbiased and based on facts.

Exploring the aftermath of firing an employee

Getting fired can be devastating for an employee. It is hard for the employer, too. It is not just the cost of firing that they have to bear but several other issues that crop up after the firing.

Impact on team morale and productivity: Employee firing affects the rest of the employees too. There is a drop in their morale, and they need help to be 100% productive at work. Also, it might take some time for them to bounce back as they need to adjust to the new scenario and the additional tasks allotted. 

inFeedo’s Psychological Safety survey can play a critical role in helping employers understand the psyche of the employees and provide them with the support they need during trying times. This survey can -

  • Understand if the employees feel safe to speak out at work
  • Avoid attrition and future firing by finding employees with a low engagement rate
  • Build a conducive work culture
  • Boost employee morale

Managing departing employees' tasks and knowledge transfer: The tasks and workload of the laid-off employee must be reassigned quickly to prevent disruption for the business. Knowledge transfer sessions can alleviate issues and ensure a smooth transition for the entire team.

Mitigating legal and reputational risks: Protecting the company's reputation after an employee's firing occurs is critical. If the termination is adequately handled, it reduces legal risks. Confidentiality and professionalism maintained throughout the process help too.

Supporting remaining employees: Employee termination can negatively affect the rest of the employees even when you have valid reasons for firing. They might feel anxious and have some concerns that need to be addressed. What they need most at this time is open communication and reassurance. 

HR plays a critical role in providing the support they need. However, having a conversational AI bot that is both empathetic and warm works even better. inFeedo’s Amber is a chatbot that genuinely listens and understands employee intent to respond empathetically—creating a trusting relationship between employer and employee.

Strategies to prevent employee firing

They say prevention is the best cure, which also holds for employee termination. Here is how to prevent firing an employee.

Hiring and onboarding best practices: Recruiting suitable candidates with relevant skills and having a good cultural fit decreases the probability of future firing. The onboarding process also plays a critical part in this. Organizations with a comprehensive onboarding process have seen an 82% increase in new hire retention and a 70% increase in productivity.

Including effective employee experience strategies: Organizations must adopt positive employee experience strategies like industry standard pay packages, work-life balance, a productive work environment, and opportunities to upskill. inFeedo’s employee engagement platform is helping several human resources departments focus on areas where it is needed to boost employee satisfaction.

Constructive feedback and coaching: Employees grow through constructive feedback and constant guidance. When the workplace provides both, they achieve their goals aligned with the goals and objectives of the company. This lessens the chances of termination in the future.

Having an inclusive culture: A thriving and inclusive workplace makes employees high on morals, willing to collaborate for teamwork, and excel daily. Building an inclusive and diverse company culture can reduce firing.

Effective communication during the firing process

Before firing an employee, HR must prepare for the final meeting. Ensure it doesn’t fall on birthdays or work anniversaries. Also, two executives should be representing the company, as a witness is needed. Finally, show compassion and respect. 

Preparing for the termination meeting

Arrange a private place for the meeting. If the employee’s belongings will be sent to their home address, avoid having the meeting at their office. Prepare a termination meeting checklist. Think of the queries or concerns the employee might have about this situation.

Delivering the termination message

Communicate the purpose of the meeting as soon as you can without attacking or disrespecting the employee. Begin by expressing appreciation for the employee’s contributions to the company so far and then move on to the primary aim of the conversation. Ensure they understand that this is the company's final decision. 

During the termination meeting

Mention the reasons for termination precisely and clearly. If they have violated company laws or shown poor performance consistently, mention the facts. All through this, remember to show empathy but remain firm and consistent.

Handling reactions and emotions

Remember, it is a massive shock for the employee, and they might show solid reactions and emotions during the meeting. Be calm and keep a professional attitude without being incompassionate. Do not engage in debates; acknowledge their feelings and discuss the next steps.

Offering Support and Resources:

Let the employee know about any severance package, benefits, or outplacement services they will get. Keep a list of resources like career counseling, employee assistance programs, or job placement services and inform them about the same. Offer to provide employee references or recommendations in the future. 

Drive employee engagement today to prevent future employee firing

Employee firing affects your internal work culture. Those who leave are upset, and those who stay are anxious. HR can survive this process if they communicate effectively and have the right tools and strategy. For a traditional HR department, it might not be possible to reach out and check in with each employee, but with inFeedo’s Amber, this is easily achievable.

Over 250 brands have already boosted their employee engagement with inFeedo. Are you ready to take your first step toward building a happier and more productive team? Get started now.

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