Even when employee terminations are the best option for the business, they are hard for all parties. Firing staffers may be the kindest solutions for them, but dismissals can wound their self-esteem to the point of retaliation. Some discarded personnel respond violently for revenge or to ease their suffering. Others turn in former employers for legal, regulation, or ethical violations. Justified, compassionate discharge practices can help you avoid such possible reactions.
Determine Good Job Separation Reasons
Companies can let employees go with or without cause in at-will states like Arizona. But certain limitations apply. You cannot fire personnel for discriminatory motives, union activity participation, filing workers’ compensation claims, not carrying out job assignments that may break state laws, and reporting firms for legal or state policy violations.
Employer/employee relationships constitute psychological contracts with two-way expectations and promises. Although neither party verbalizes or documents these matters in writing typically, each has an unspoken recognition of what the other expects.
All workers can believe rightfully that their employers will treat them fairly and act in good faith. That involves not terminating their positions without proper, valid reasons. Firms may view any failures to meet their implicit agreements’ terms as contract breaches. Common justifications include inadequate job performance and not meeting reasonable production standards.
Follow Humanitarian Dismissal Approaches for Poor Performance
In most cases, use these guidelines for well-planned, compassionate dismissals:
- Avoid impulsive and hasty termination decisions.
- Do not assume that you can fire jobholders for any flimsy reasons.
- Try to salvage working relationships before discharging employees.
- Consider the immense impact your actions will have on staffers’ lives, families, and livelihoods.
- Document events prompting terminations including whatever guidance and corrective actions you took.
- Make personnel aware of possible job separations and why you might resort to such measures.
- Prepare all discharge documents in advance. Visit National PEO’s forms page to access, save, and print our Employee Termination Form.
- Carry out dismissals promptly once you are sure they are the right actions for the circumstances.
- Provide good, viable reasons for all employment separations.
- Explain clearly that job loss is the only inevitable option.
- Treat employees in respectful, humane manners. Be civil, yet concise.
- Help workers maintain some dignity during dismissal meetings.
- Prevent or stop any arguments with personnel.
- Allow staffers to ask any end-of-service questions. They may want to discuss whatever went wrong. Perhaps, employees were not good fits for their positions. Maybe their work styles were too relaxed for your firm’s fast pace. Others might have become so unhappy or bored that they quit trying. Such conversations may help workers make peace with their fates. But do not let them try to convince you to save their jobs.
- Handle all decisions and communications with extra care so you will be able to live with your actions.
- End final meetings by thanking discharged employees for their service and wishing them well.
Handle Immediate Firings for Dire Causes Cautiously
Your employee handbook should specify certain behaviors that necessitate terminating employment immediately. Typically, these include unique occurrences that put the rest of your team’s well-being and safety at risk. National PEO can create a basic or custom employee handbook that specifies fireable offenses including situations when workers:
- Threaten others with brutality or perpetrate violent acts
- Bring weapons to worksites
- Consume alcohol or use illegal drugs on work premises
- Harass colleagues sexually
- Steal company property
- Falsify time cards
- Commit similar potentially grievous offenses
For such intolerable actions, follow these urgent termination steps:
- Ensure that employees do not pose dangers to themselves or other staffers. If they seem threatening, move everyone else to safe locations. Contact your in-house security personnel and call 9-1-1 immediately.
- If danger is not a concern, report any illegal acts to your local police department.
- Assume a polite, respectful demeanor before stating fireable offenses calmly. Have strong witnesses like internal security guards present in case physical restraint becomes necessary.
- Announce that you have terminated employment.
- Direct workers to relinquish all company-issued property promptly.
- Allow staffers to pack their personal items at their workstations, if circumstances allow. Otherwise, box and ship them later.
- Escort former employees from your building, explaining that their return will constitute trespassing.
Whenever possible, relieve personnel of their duties after much thought when that is the only reasonable measure for specific situations. Treating employees compassionately will make accepting difficult decisions and bad news easier for each party. Your humane approach can help both of you move forward in your lives and careers.