With COVID-19, companies are needing to let go of staff as a reaction to the decrease in their business. Some are being transparent and explaining the reasoning, while others are being disrespectful. In the past week, I have heard too many firsthand stories of how employees were terminated improperly. In one case, a candidate was let go via text message. In another, the candidate attempted to get closure by going to say goodbye to his General Manager (GM), only to have the GM refuse to speak with him. The same GM turned her back on the chef when he wanted to say thank you and goodbye. We have to do better! There must be a more humane way to terminate with compassion and kindness.
Terminate With Compassion
When done properly, the employee saves face and can potentially feel good about the decision. It is important to be very transparent as to why the employee is being terminated. It is crucial to have documented the cause throughout the process — this ensures that the employee is not surprised, and you are legally protected. Consider the day that you are going to terminate the employee so they can start looking for work immediately and not have to wait an entire weekend to get their process started. Always remain polite and professional — do not engage in a “tit for tat” while you are letting the employee go. Lastly, allow the employee time to process the news. Some may get angry, some may be quiet, and some may cry. Give them space to gain their composure in your presence so that they do not get upset in your work setting.
Assistance and Support
It may seem counterintuitive but take the time to help them find leads for new opportunities. You would not do this for someone who committed a major policy violation, but right now, many people are being terminated for reasons other than performance. This is a great time to give your employee the name of a compassionate recruiter, or people you may know who are hiring. This can go a long way to salvage your relationship with your employee. Take time to focus on what they have done well, show appreciation for their efforts, and genuinely praise them for the good things they brought to the company.
Repercussions of Improper Termination
When you terminate someone improperly, you open yourself up to potential litigation. More importantly, you give yourself and your company a bad name. In this day, when companies are trying hard to keep going, having a reputation of being unprofessional will not help you retain the talent that you have, nor will it help you to get the most qualified applicants in the future. Face it, people talk. What you want them to be saying is, “S/he was incredibly kind and compassionate during a difficult time,” and “I know how busy s/he is, but s/he took time to make sure I was okay.” Terminate with compassion. You may not work together again, but it’s imperative to preserve your reputation and think about how you would want to be treated in a similar situation.
Seeking the assistance of a compassionate recruiting partner? Goodwin is here to help!
If you are not sure how to do it, ask for help, role-play it, be proactive, and let a compassionate recruiting agency help you. This is a good time when creating a relationship with a recruiting agency can be beneficial for both parties. When terminating the employee, give them the name of that agency and make an introduction. This will ensure that the employee feels welcomed with open arms. If you find yourself about to lay off staff, or recently have been laid off, consider contacting Goodwin Recruiting, who has been helping people find work for over twenty years.