Employee termination meetings are among the most difficult tasks managers and human resource professionals are called on to carry out. It’s hard on the terminated employee and often on their co-workers, as well. By planning ahead, finalizing paperwork and thinking through the steps so the terminated employee is treated with dignity and respect, you can minimize the chances of a blowup that could upset the employee and their co-workers and lead to a potential lawsuit, or worse.
What day is best for the termination meeting?
While there are multitudes of theories, there is really no hard and fast rule on the best day for an employee termination meeting. One theory holds that the meeting should be done on Friday, so the employee can lick their wounds, have time to recover and begin to plan over the weekend. Another says that you should do it on Monday so the employee has the entire week to apply for unemployment insurance, pull their resume together and begin their job hunt.
Tuesday is also a very popular day for termination meetings because it satisfies both of those two objectives. You can finalize the paperwork and plans on Monday, make sure you have all of your paperwork ready to go, but then if you do it Tuesday the terminated employee still has most of the week to job hunt, file unemployment and begin to feel like they’re making progress. You can also consider what works best for your payroll department. If the end of the payroll cycle is on the 15th, you may want to have the employee’s last day fall on the 14th or 15th before the next payroll cycle starts.
What time should you have the meeting?
The end of the workday—or whatever time will allow the employee to pack up without an audience—is a good time for the meeting. If you’ve got a shift change, terminating the worker at the beginning of their workday may actually give them the smallest audience for the difficult walk back to their car. Whatever option allows the employee to leave the premises with their dignity intact, facing as few co-workers as possible is best.
Where should you hold the meeting?
Select a private, neutral location. Don’t have the meeting in their office, or in their manager’s office. If you have a Human Resource professional on staff with an office, you may want to hold the meeting there. And if there is any chance of a scene, it’s a good idea to hold the meeting near an exit if possible. Do not have the meeting in a fishbowl setting such as the main conference room, by windows, with people walking by. Most employees will need to go back to their desk to pack up. What if they completely lose their cool, or need to get some air? Don’t make it hard on them by having to walk a quarter mile past their friend’s or anyone else’s office, while they are in tears or while they’re angry or shouting. Just get them out the door quickly.
Use a Checklist
The Pros at HR Support Center developed a checklist to help ensure that you follow the steps to hold a respectful, professional, thorough termination meeting. It keeps you on task and helps prevent “going off the rails” if the employee gets emotional, abusive or worse. While these meetings are never easy, they can be handled so the employee ultimately feels respected as they exit the company.