Communicating Terminations Effectively - Tilson


Communicating Terminations Effectively

Leadership & Management, Strategy & Planning | March 2023

Losing a job is a traumatic event for most and may trigger anger, humiliation and sadness. Some employees who are otherwise calm, rational individuals may react negatively to a termination or challenge the decision. Yet, if terminations are handled appropriately and with respect for all parties involved, the process should be smooth. In addition, the employees who remain employed at the company will not feel threatened or have negative emotions towards the employer.

Communication Strategies

The following are strategies employers can use to communicate terminations effectively:

  • Respect the person being terminated regardless of the circumstances for which he or she is being let go. By ensuring confidentiality and facilitating constructive discussion, you are showing the terminated employee and your existing employees that you care.
  • Do not justify the reason for terminating individuals if you get a backlash from remaining employees. This violates the confidentiality of the situation.
  • The hiring manager should be responsible for terminating an employee. Though a representative from Human Resources or the legal department may be witness to the termination, the hiring manager should discuss the reasons for termination.
  • Keep employees informed when they are not meeting performance expectations.  If you do not, performance expectations are lowered and may cause confusion when employees are terminated for performing poorly without being warned first.
  • It is recommended that a terminated employee be escorted to leave the premises once the termination has occurred. The individual can be escorted to their workstation to retrieve personal items or they can be escorted out of the building with the opportunity to come back at a later scheduled time to gather personal items.
  • If an employee refutes the termination, the hiring manager should emphasize that the company has made this business decision and that it is final.
  • After the termination, review why that candidate was initially hired to avoid making the same hiring mistakes again.

Avoiding Lawsuits

At times, employers can be faced with legal headaches as a result of statements allegedly made during terminations. To avoid these lawsuits and protect your organization, always have two staff members present when terminating an employee.

That way, one of the employees will serve as a witness to what occurred during the confidential meeting. It is also wise to avoid extensive conversation with the terminated employee, as most suits arise as a result of the statements made during the actual termination and the reasons for which the person was let go. Though minimal discussion about the reason for termination is unavoidable, keep this conversation short.

Communicating terminations is one of the least enjoyable responsibilities that many individuals hold. Management-level employees must make protecting the organization a primary priority while also trying to respect the employee being terminated. Balancing both of these responsibilities will yield the best results, both for the organization and the employee.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2015, 2019, 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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