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Reprinted From Workforce News


There is a better way to terminate employees than shooting from the hip! As the economic slow down impacts companies in Texas and around the country, it is timely to review how your company separates employees. The economy has been so good for so long, that it may have been awhile since your policy has been reviewed and management may be unfamiliar with how to conduct an effective employee termination. Whether or not you are currently planning a layoff or selected reductions, now is the time to review your policy and be prepared in the event it is needed and to ensure that someone in your organization does not shoot themselves or the company in the foot!

There are several policies which should be considered: corrective discipline for low performing employees and required documentation related to the process; severance and employment-at- will policies; termination and outplacement policy and procedures. Reviewing them for internal consistency, legality and against best practices will ensure that your company is protected from negative consequences in the event of a termination or layoff.

One of the most vital elements of a successful termination policy is the inclusion of outplacement in the severance package. There are a number of reasons to include outplacement even in a good employment market:

  • Avoiding legal problems
  • Maintaining a responsible external image
  • Preserving the good will of severed employees
  • Facilitating recruitment and retention
  • Projecting a corporate conscience
  • Reducing unemployment claims
  • Increasing morale of surviving employees

Professional outplacement begins before the termination ith pre-planning. Training management on how to effectively communicate the termination is particularly important to ensure that legal guidelines are followed and that the terminating manager is communicating the official reason for termination. Two comments to avoid are often tempting for a manager who feels badly about his/her role —

“I’ll help you find another job internally”

“I know how you feel”

Employees often hear and remember what they want to hear, so be sure to avoid these traps; to document the conversation, have a second person witness the termination.

There are many other guidelines to a successful termination, but one of the most critical policies is to have the outplacement consultant on hand at the time of the termination. Here are just a few of the benefits from onsite consultation immediately following the announcement:

  • Demonstrates the professionalism of everyone involved in the termination process.
  • Minimizes the lag time for the initiation of the outplacement program during which terminated employees may take inappropriate actions or say things to others which may harm their transition or be detrimental to the company.
  • Increases participation in outplacement which is essential to gain the organizational benefits of outplacement.
  • Eases the termination process for managers who often experience the same or more stress than their affected employees.
  • Ensures that outplacement intervention begins immediately when there is the greatest potential for negative or violent reactions
  • Improves the perception of employees remaining with the company concerning the termination process. This is particularly important in today’s environment of recruitment and retention challenges.

Professional outplacement can save companies far more than the cost of the service and prevent organizational costs that can last for years after a termination. It is a win-win service for employees and companies that can turn a traumatizing situation into a positive for all involved.

By Sheryl Dawson
[do action=”sherylstitle”][/do] Dawson Consulting Group