Tag Archives: employee termination

The Wake of Layoffs: How HR Can Manage the Message

Layoffs are an unfortunate but inevitable part of running a business. It isn’t pretty, but downsizing is often a necessary evil for optimizing a company’s efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Nonetheless, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, and surviving employees are likely to be on edge. So how can HR manage the message in the wake of layoffs?


Prepare for a Backlash

There’s a great quote from Dave Denaro, vice president and site leader at Keystone Associates, regarding the reaction of surviving employees. “In general terms, a layoff isn’t personal. It’s a purely professional decision taken to protect the business. That doesn’t mean it won’t make your employees nervous; even the possibility of a restructuring can send a shiver down a worker’s spine.”

Seeing their colleagues terminated can leave surviving employees feeling nervous, uncertain and even resentful. Even though they still have their jobs, it’s hard not to question your company’s stability and their intrinsic value in your company.

This can result in turnover and your key talent may “head for higher ground” out of fear that they could be the next to go. You should be prepared for employees to walk and may want to have a temporary staffing agency lined up in the event that you need to quickly fill vacated positions.


Keep an Open Line of Communication

The best thing you can do is keep your employees in the loop. Be honest and transparent about the situation. Don’t simply leave everyone guessing what the future of your company looks like and what their role will be in it. Your employees are likely to have plenty of questions, so be willing to give an honest answer to quell their concerns.

Most importantly, let your employees know that they’re genuinely valued. Open communication like this should resuscitate morale and will hopefully prevent a mass exodus.


Show Respect and Empathy

Layoffs can create an ominous atmosphere in your workplace. Out of nowhere, your surviving employees’ livelihood comes into question, which can lead to a sense of disillusionment and distrust. As an employer, it’s crucial to demonstrate genuine respect and empathy.

Ideally, you’ll provide a forum that enables them to vent their emotions to prevent rumors or hostility from spreading. Make it clear that you understand their position and thank your staff for bearing with you during this turbulent time.


Pick Up the Slack

Layoffs are obviously disruptive to operations. All of a sudden, there’s friction and it’s harder to cover the workload. One of the best ways to reduce this friction and boost morale is to implore management to pick up the slack until the dust settles. For instance, you might ask your managers to temporarily cover extra duties to keep the wheels turning.

There’s no denying that layoffs are difficult. Even though your remaining workers still have their jobs, it can be incredibly distressing. By managing the message correctly and handling the situation with tact, you should be able to reduce conflict and get things back on track.



You’re Fired! Best Ways to Let an Employee Go

At first glance, firing an employee might seem simple enough — and in an ideal world, you will cleanly cut ties and part ways amicably. But in reality, it’s not always this easy, and things can quickly get messy when employers don’t understand the ins and outs of the termination process. Here are some important facts that you need to know before firing an employee and how to make it as painless as possible.

Laws and Regulations Surrounding Employee Termination

Employee rights are a serious matter, and there are several federal laws that were created to prevent wrongful termination. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was designed to protect employees from being fired because of discrimination based on race, gender, religion and pregnancy. The Americans with Disability Act prohibits employers from firing employees due to disability. There’s also the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits employers from firing older employees due to their age.

The bottom line is that you must abide by these and similar federal laws when deciding to terminate an employee. If your decision is deemed to be discriminatory, because of whistle-blowing or as a means of retaliation, then it’s an open invitation to a lawsuit.

Employer Responsibilities

As an employer, it’s crucial that all employees are treated fairly and judged the same when making the choice to go through with a termination. For instance, if two employees were found to be guilty of the same type of misconduct, it would be unacceptable to fire one and merely give the other a slap on the wrist. You must also ensure that you understand your employees’ rights and provide them with the benefits they’re entitled to, which includes giving them their final paycheck and sometimes continued health coverage, unemployment compensation and severance pay.

Handling Things the Right Way

In order to protect your company and assets, there is a certain protocol to follow. One of the most important things you can do is maintain thorough documentation of any instances of misconduct or poor performance leading up to your decision to fire an employee. Doing so allows you to terminate on solid ground and greatly reduces the chances of complications arising.

Proper documentation allows you to point out specific instances to an employee when conducting a termination meeting and back up your claims. It should also keep you protected in case you’re hit with a wrongful termination lawsuit. Ideally, you’ll record manager’s memos documenting unacceptable performance/behavior along with eyewitness accounts.

When it comes to a termination meeting, it’s best to conduct it face-to-face in a private setting where it won’t be overheard by other employees. It’s also a good idea to have a third-party manager present to serve as a witness who can validate exactly what took place if need be. At the end of the meeting, you’ll want to inform an ex-employee which benefits they’re entitled to and make arrangements for them to receive their final paycheck.

Odds are you’re going to have to fire at least one employee at some point in time. Equipping yourself with the knowledge of relevant laws and understanding employee rights along with your responsibilities should help to make the process a relatively smooth one. This should ultimately protect you from wrongful termination lawsuits and make the process less painful in general.