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When It’s Time to Let Go: How to Fire an Employee Graciously

2 Mins read

Nobody enjoys firing employees. It’s an awkward, painful, and stressful situation for the participants on both sides. You’re about to change someone’s life, and it’s not going to feel good. While your company and the employee will be better off down the road, it’s the immediate reactions and feelings that matter right now. You may genuinely care and respect this person; you might even be friends. But unfortunately, their time as an employee at your organization is up. Whether it’s due to restructuring, cut-backs, or their overall job performance, you must tell them that today is their last day.

So — how can you handle this the right way, without hurting anyone’s feelings and even ending up in court because of a wrongful dismissal claim? Read on to discover valuable tips on how to fairly and graciously let go of employees.

Provide Warning 

Unless this employee has made a serious policy violation, in which case you are entitled to firing them immediately, giving them an honest performance review before letting them go is essential. Provide them with an opportunity to improve or state why and how they are valuable assets to the organization. They might surprise you and make a significant, positive change. It’s important to note that employees can make a wrongful dismissal claim without a proper performance warning, which can cost you a lot of money and time.

Be Clear and Concise 

When it’s time to sit down and have the difficult conversion, be clear and concise about why the termination is happening. Your employee deserves to know the precise reasons behind the decision and any necessary next steps. For example, outline their severance package and offer information on how to apply for employment insurance. Provide examples of how their performance failed to meet your expectations so they’ll know to work on such tasks in future positions.

Display Empathy

You don’t have to get overly emotional about the situation, but showing some kindness goes a long way. Ask them if they’d like to collect anything from their desk before you escort them out or if they’d prefer that you mail any belongings to them later on. 

Tell them how much you’ve valued them as an employee and that it’s unfortunate things ended this way. Another critical thing to remember is not making a scene and humiliating the person in front of the entire office. 

Have a Witness

Always have a Human Resources person in the room with you during the termination process. If the employee comes back to sue you, you’ll have a reliable witness on your side.

Work with a Recruiter 

To avoid hiring poor performing employees, work with a professional recruiter, such as the IQ PARTNERS recruitment agency — specializing in careers of all fields. They’ll pull from their exclusive pool of outstanding candidates. With access to the best talent in your city, they’ll help build a strong team of employees with no room for poor performance.

If you have to let someone go at work, do it with grace. You’ll avoid making an already trick situation much worse.  

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