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Four Ways to Make Terminations Less Stressful

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Nothing you can do can make quitting completely stress-free. Good preparation and the right attitude will make a big difference. Here are four common methods that we recommend.

in the 2009 movie up in the air, George Clooney and Anna Kendrick play corporate downsizers. HR consultants are hired by companies across the country to lay off their employees. At the time, the practice was not common and fortunately never became widespread, but it was incredible.

Termination is nerve-wracking. You are doing something that causes other people an incredible amount of stress and financial hardship.

Nothing you can do can make quitting completely stress-free. No, I wouldn’t recommend boarding Anna Kendrick and George Clooney to do the layoffs. But good preparation and the right attitude will make a big difference. Here are four common methods we recommend.

Know your compliance obligations in advance

Before conducting a termination meeting, research applicable laws regarding termination procedures and paperwork, accrued annual leave, retirement benefits, COBRA, and final pay. If you terminate a large number of employees, you may be subject to certain notice requirements under the Federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notice Act (WARN) or similar state laws. You don’t want to miss any steps or deadlines. If the employee works in another state, please refer to that state’s laws.

You also need to understand how anti-discrimination laws work in practice and take steps to reduce the likelihood of dismissed employees filing allegations of discrimination. Voluntary employment allows the employer or employee to terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause, with or without cause, but may not terminate employment on the basis of an employee belonging to a protected class: e.g. race, gender, religion, or national origin.

Similarly, we screen terminations to ensure they are not based on protected activity. Due to countless state and federal laws, employees cannot be terminated for any particular reason. For example, Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to discuss their wages and complain to each other about working conditions. Some states prohibit employers from firing employees engaged in legitimate activities other than work. Reporting of unsafe working conditions is protected. Also, don’t forget about the many vacation laws that vary from state to state. From sick leave to military leave to academic leave, you may be surprised at the types of leave that are covered.

Risks to consider

There are even risks if the dismissal is for good reason. The employee who was fired may claim that your reason was just a sham and that you were actually fired for an illegal reason. The risk increases exponentially when employees are not provided with a reasonable reason for termination or when discipline policies are applied inconsistently.

Therefore, the safest way to terminate an employee is to communicate the performance issue to the employee, give them an opportunity to improve, and have documentation to justify the legitimate business reasons behind the termination. This documentation includes policy violations, instances of poor performance, and disciplinary or corrective actions taken. The documentation should show that the company has communicated the problem to the employee. The more you can do to show that you had a valid business reason and gave them an opportunity to improve, the harder it will be for employees to fill in the blanks with unlawful termination reasons. You risk less layoffs and feel better about your decision because you treated your employees fairly.

Approach retirement with a positive mindset

The end is good, although painful. Yes, even for retired employees. Consider an employee who is constantly struggling to meet performance expectations. Guidance and training have not proven to be fruitful. No amount of coaching can make them do a better job. There is no other job they can do in your organization. So now you have a choice. You can either keep them on or let them go by accepting subpar performance and accepting their impact on your organization. In this case, letting them go is probably the better option for both parties.

You are not doing this struggling employee any favors by leaving them in a position where they cannot succeed. I also have it set to fail in future roles. A few months or years of experience on your resume may help you land a future job, but if it’s a job you can’t actually do, a future employer might ask you to You have the same options as you have.

This employee has a unique and difficult choice to face. They may need to develop more skills than you can offer, rethink the type of job that is right for them, or make better choices about their future. They will never prosper if you allow them to coast. In this type of situation, dismissal is in the employee’s best interest. We don’t recommend telling your employees this, but it’s something to keep in mind when making this difficult decision.

Layoffs and downsizing

In the case of layoffs through no fault of the employee, consider some ways to help the employee bounce back. Provide severance pay if that is an option. Tell them you can apply for unemployment insurance. Help them update their resume. Let them know of any opportunities you know of, and encourage network connections if possible. In short, make the layoff meeting a productive discussion about their future. It’s sure to be a difficult discussion, and employees may not want to hear it. You can respect that too.

Be prepared for strong emotions, such as sadness or anger, to emerge during the closing meeting, and be prepared to respond with confidence. There’s a fine line between making room for initial processing and unnecessarily prolonging meetings, but it’s a way to acknowledge and validate employee feelings without changing the end result. can. It rarely escalates to violence, but check the company’s procedures in advance for handling such situations.

Don’t surprise the end

Have you ever received an email from your boss saying something cryptic like, “I need to talk to you”? You might start worrying right away. Something wrong? Are you fired? I can’t breathe a sigh of relief until I tell you the story.

why does your heart go there? It may be because you aren’t sure what might cause problems at work and you don’t feel safe. They are terrible practices when people believe that they can realistically lose their jobs for reasons they don’t know. We tend to assume the worst when we reach out. Sudden dismissal encourages everyone to adopt that belief and encourages a culture of fear.

The end should never come as a complete surprise. Yes, Voluntary Employment allows you to terminate your employment for any or no reason (unless it is illegal).

Clear rules and consistent practices are on your side here. Let employees know what is expected of them and of possible layoffs. The employee handbook is a good place to do this. Enforce rules consistently rather than blindly. Allowing employees to get away with policy violations and then suddenly switching to strict law enforcement will only create chaos and fear. You don’t have to follow the same process for all types of violations. For example, some actions may require immediate termination. But don’t bend the rules for some employees and bend the rules for others.

Building a coaching culture

A culture of coaching also benefits employees, especially those who struggle to meet expectations. If managers regularly work with employees to improve their performance and improve their skills, struggling employees are likely to be more successful and happier doing other things. In some cases, good coaching means getting employees out of the organization. A loss is a loss, but directing an employee to a better job elsewhere is usually much smoother and less confusing than an involuntary dismissal. Moreover, they leave you with good intentions. In situations where dismissal is appropriate, managers can soften the blow when it finally hits if they have discussed with their employees upfront the consequences of failing to make improvements.

Finally, don’t hide your bad financial situation from your employees. When business is slow and layoffs are likely, employees need to be able to make informed financial decisions and contingency plans. They get even more angry when they feel lied to or misunderstood. In an era where companies go viral on the internet for bad layoffs, it’s important to be transparent and honest.

Tidy up

Create a checklist in advance of what needs to be covered. This list includes specific equipment and keys that must be returned, passwords and access cards that must be revoked, the employee’s scope of work until a replacement is hired, notices to colleagues, vendors, and customers, and COBRA information. , may contain up-to-date information. W-2 address and what to say during the closing meeting.

It might feel impersonal to tick the box, but the day of your dismissal is at least difficult for everyone involved, and at worst confusing, especially if you’re confused. Keeping things neat and orderly is both kind and professional.

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