Leaving, fired, or laid offWhile the word “termination” sounds ominous and foreboding, terminating an employee isn’t necessarily always a negative thing. There are actually different ways an employee will leave a company. Some employees leave their place of employment for a job with another company (also called resigning). Employees will leave for another company if they have maxed out the pay scale for their position or have no other possible promotions. Maybe their role changed and they found something elsewhere better suited for their skills. Some employees have life circumstances that cause them to move to a different city, state, or even country. Firing for any number of reasons (misconduct, fraud, stealing, performance, insubordination, etc.) would be another reason for termination. Companies going through buyouts or layoffs could also cause employee terminations. Finally, employees who retire become terminated employees. Long story short, the termination process simply means that an employee’s status is changing from active to terminated.
You must not know ‘bout me.One of the first things to remember when terminating an employee is that regardless of reason, it is not appropriate to suddenly pretend that employee never existed. Thanking the employee for their contribution and wishing them well can help ease that awkward tension while formalities are taking place. When appropriate, it’s also a nice gesture to offer letters of recommendation for employees that have done an exceptional job. Leaving doesn’t have to result in a burned bridge. In fact, nothing kills employee morale faster than them feeling like nothing more than a cog in a wheel. Employees want to feel valued, and they should still feel some sense of humanity even up to the point that they are out the door for good. After all, word travels fast. If that employee enjoyed aspects of the job and company, a new hard-working candidate may be a referral away. Considering the high cost of employee turnover, you’ll want to do anything you can to find and retain qualified employees.
And keep talking that mess, that’s fine.Another thing to remember is that regardless of what occurred to initiate the departure, it is the employer’s responsibility to keep the interaction professional. “Remember the Golden Rule to treat people the way that you would want to be treated, even when having the uncomfortable conversation of terminating an employee” explains Jaime Zuder, Managing Partner of Journey AZ. Involuntary terminations can be stressful, and some employees will lash out due to their frustrations. Reacting unprofessionally, whether speaking or acting, could land the employer in hot water. That is something which is completely avoidable. Remember to keep your composure and be the bigger person, regardless of how the terminated employee is reacting. Go into the situation with a peaceful attitude. Prepare yourself to diffuse any volatile confrontations to keep the situation under control. Lastly, maintain a professional environment—for all people involved (and potential onlookers).
Hey, is that even legal?Something else that can land an employer in hot water when terminating an employee is any illegal practice. For example, telling an employee that she is terminated based on her performance, and that a man would probably fit in better and perform better with the all-male team, would be a sure fire way to land you in court. While avoiding a statement like that might seem like a no-brainer for some people, others forget that avoiding discrimination needs to occur all the way through the employment process: interviewing, hiring, working, and terminating. If in doubt, it’s a solid idea to run things past your human resources department. However, HR should be readily available in all termination situations anyway.
If I bought it, please don’t touch.One of the high-dollar ways companies often lose money when terminating an employee is by not retrieving company-owned property. A best practice for ensuring the safe return of property is to start out straight upon hire; have employees sign out their devices, perform periodic audits, and begin the process of retrieving property as soon as you are aware of an impending termination. This process is twofold in that it helps you get all of your expensive devices and equipment back, but also that it helps it return intact (some employees have been known to destroy property upon termination).
Employee Termination ChecklistIf you’re feeling overwhelmed with all this information, here is a checklist to help make sure you’ve done everything you need to do to be in compliance with the law, but also to make the termination process a little more efficient:
- Get a formal resignation letter from the employee.
- Schedule a meeting to discuss the last day of work, how the workload will transition, to schedule the collection of company property, and to remind the employee of the exit interview.
- Retrieve company-owned property by means of a checklist with signatures.
- Withdraw access to systems and platforms, and retrieve security badges.
- Provide important paperwork for the employee to complete, including a change of address form and documents pertaining to the continuation or discontinuation of benefits.
- Perform an exit interview, and review any non-compete documents they signed during their employment.
- Notify existing employees, customers, and clients of the departure, and advise them about whom their new contact person will be.
- Give the employee their final paycheck, including any outstanding payroll advances, or any PTO accruals to be paid out.
- Keep a record of payroll (for tax purposes), and the termination process (including reason for leaving), should anything be needed in the future
IrreplaceableIf you make a habit of getting organized and staying on top of employee terminations, the practice will pay off. Especially if any unusual situations arise during the termination process or thereafter. Also, no employee is irreplaceable (even Bey agrees), so using your employee termination checklist can help you move out with the old, and in with the new. “I can have another you by tomorrow…”
About Journey Employer Solutions
Service: Journey puts service above all. We believe if you offer a great price and great technology, but don’t have A+ level service, it’s worthless.
Technology: Journey has the advantage of being forward thinking and fast moving. Our decisions are not based on stockholders, but on clients looking for advanced offerings.
Value: Journey takes a client trusting their team as a crucial part of their business very seriously. We realize cost is an important consideration and set extremely fair pricing.
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