Do’s and Don’ts When Terminating Employees

September 14, 20169:58 am1812 views

Terminating employees is one of the toughest decision employers are forced to take during times of crisis, economic downturns and internal business restructuring. Letting go of key talent within organisation is not easy, and more so difficult is communicating the news of termination. Tact has to be ensured during communication and beyond to not sabotage an employee’s career.

Issuing letters of termination especially to key talent needs prior planning and calculated severance pay such as to not leave them depressed, frustrated and stressed because of termination.  If the process of termination is not well-handled, employees retort in ways such as filing case against the employer in court or propagating bad reviews about the employer brand on social media platforms.

See also: How to Reprimand Employees Without Conflicts?

Incompetence, disobedience, theft and constructive dismissal could be some of the common grounds on which termination call is initiated, besides of course, business restructuring, when an employee is terminated from job with severance pay, prior to completion of their contract with the employer.

Strategising efforts and synergies in thoughts from all senior leaders should be put to practice, when terminating employees. Culling through sources, here are some list of do’s and don’ts HR managers could observe before handing over the pink slip:


Provide full explanation to employees. HR managers and employers should provide detailed clear explanation to an employee/s on reasons for termination. Transparency and honesty are two crucial elements, HR managers must observe during the termination process. Downsizing owing to financial loss or change in business plans should be clearly communicated to all staffers. While communicating the nitty-gritties and other intimidating factors to employees could be tough, hence HR managers can observe discretion in certain matters. However, never opt for a lie as means to safeguard company’s interest when announcing layoffs.

Let employees know in person. With digital mediums of communication now being sought by employers such as chats, emails, or video conferences, these are not suitable to communicate critical messages that involve sentiments of employees and those decisions that involve an element of fear to sabotage their careers. A face-to-face meeting between the employer and employee is the right approach to communicate downsizing and layoffs. This will make employees feel more respected and valued.

Show respect. Showing respect is a must-thing to do during termination, regardless of the severity of employee mistakes and flaws in working. If you do think an employee needs to be terminated, do it respectfully and politely. This would minimise the impact of the final decision announcement, influence perceptions and the emotional responses derived consequently.

Make a great consideration beforehand. Being assertive and straightforward in announcing termination of employees, would make it easier for them to accept the decision and further avoid the negative influence on other colleagues as they leave. It is important that employers make great consideration beforehand, and be certain of their decisions to terminate before talking it out.


Terminating employees without warnings. Before issuing termination, it is important that employees are made aware of the reasons for the same – it could be poor performance on part of the individual or a state of company crisis. Employees cannot be terminated suddenly. In case of poor performance, they should be provided adequate training and time to improve, however only in case of several attempts failed employers are then forced to initiate termination.

Sudden termination without any preliminary warnings would make employees angry and disappointed. Except in case of crisis times when massive layoffs are announced as an outcome of business failure, employers otherwise  should set a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) for employees to measure their improvements at work and provide timely feedback for growth.

Terminating employees without witness. Terminating employees without involving other parties such as HR managers or other representatives would result in an unfair decision-making. Without a witness, employees can take up the issue at courts for legal advice, or defame the employer brand. A witness is important to ensure that the discussion is in consent with other members of the management and employees are treated fairly with respect.

Terminating employees without specific regulations about company’s property. Before escorting employees to the gate for the last time, employers should provide clear specific handover guidelines, regards possession of company assets to include door pass, badge, Smartphone, laptop, tablet, files, keys of the cabinet and so on. If some of the company inventory is at employee’s home, make sure they are returned within a specific timeframe and in a good condition.

Allowing employees to access company information. Once the termination call has been initiated, it is the duty of HR managers to ensure that employees have no further access to company emails, reference websites and other confidential information – as this could lead to violation of business norms.

Termination well done, needs patience, care, understanding, and immaculate planning to details by the HR manager to ensure that the process goes unhindered with complete sensitivity, knowledge and awareness of employer’s actions and its consequent repercussions on employee behaviour. Tactful strategy has a pivotal role to play here.

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