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The Dos and Don’ts of Firing an Employee

Feb 7, 2022 8:30:00 AM
By Linda Trzyna

in Management, Employee Retention, Employer

Terminating a staff member is stressful both for the individual and the organization. As the employer, you have the right to terminate someone who is not performing – or who is harassing or endangering other staff. The employee has a right to an explanation and as much dignity as possible under the circumstances.

Here are some dos and don’ts for staff terminations.

  • DON’T terminate anyone compulsively. There are good reasons not to terminate someone on the spot, including preventing a lawsuit.

First, warn the employee of their poor performance and work with them on a plan of correction, keeping careful documentation.

“It’s more work and more money to train a new employee and finding a way to help the current one improve is often the better choice,” says Forbes.

If termination is necessary, do what you can to make the process more manageable for all parties.

  • DO meet face to face. Sending a termination notice via email, voice mail, phone call or letter is inappropriate. If COVID protocols prevent you from meeting at the office, then a face-to-face video conference is the next best alternative.
  • DON’T go it alone. Legally protect yourself and your company by including a second employee – ideally an experienced human resource professional – in the termination meeting.

“The HR person can also ensure that employees are treated fairly, equally, and with professionalism across departments and individual managers. This limits your liability when you fire an employee,” notes The Balance Careers.

  • DON’T be ambiguous. Make sure they know the decision is final and that they cannot persuade you to reconsider.
  • DO plan their exit. Have this conversation in a room away from other staff. Give the employee a chance to collect any personal items and return company property like laptops, tablets, cell phones, ID and access cards. Allow the employee to exit discreetly rather than have them empty their desk in front of others. They can always return to collect all of their items after hours or on a weekend when fewer people are around.
  • DON’T let them back online. Work with your IT staff to remove the employee’s access to your electronic systems by the time the termination meeting has concluded.
  • DO use a termination checklist. A checklist will help you stay in control and ensure you don’t overlook any part of the termination process.

“Not having a strategy in place when it comes time to exit a terminated employee can weigh the process down with added stress, work, and pain,” notes HR Resolutions. “The exiting process is about giving the employee a chance to process privately, but to minimize further pain on their part and limit its effects on the workplace.”

Firing a staff member can be an uncomfortable and tense undertaking. Knowing the right way to work through the process can make it easier for everyone involved.


TPD’s Total Workforce Solution addresses all of your talent acquisition needs – including direct hire and contingent workers – and employment relationship management, reducing your costs and freeing you up to focus on business. Contact us today for your workforce solution!

Filed under Management, Employee Retention, Employer

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