Why Effective Hiring Strategies Include Effective Firing Strategies

When crafting effective hiring strategies, employers consider cost, resources and the benefits of using various resources. HR departments spend countless hours developing comprehensive onboarding programs to train and develop new employees efficiently and expediently. The goal: attraction, retention and motivation. Yet few companies consider their firing, or termination, strategies in this process. But effective and respectful firing strategies play an important role in the hiring process.

Effective hiring practices – and the resulting engagement – take years to develop and perfect but only seconds to undo if the company does not also engage in effective firing practices. To be an “employer of choice” includes treating employees respectfully during the entire employment cycle, especially termination.

By definition, being an “employer of choice” means talent from far and wide flocks to a firm – everyone wants to work for a particular company. Companies considered to be an “employer of choice” are positioned to successfully woo and hire the best talent – the very talent necessary for promoting and achieving business objectives, creating value and impacting the bottom line.Therefore, to secure the best talent, “employers of choice” develop effective hiring practices.

But what takes years to develop and implement can be undone instantaneously with mismanaged termination practices. Companies need the transitioning employees — the ones leaving — to carry only feelings of goodwill. Without goodwill, “employers of choice” become employers to avoid. Therefore, effective hiring strategies include effective firing strategies. According to Lee Hecht Harrison’s Separation and Severance Benchmark Practices Study, most companies have reviewed their separation practices in the past year. In other words, companies recognize two critical factors: (1) they still need high performing talent and (2) at some point, when the economy rebounds, they will need MORE of it.

Comprehensive termination strategies involve the process of conducting the actual termination professionally and honestly, by offering severance and career transition services. Together, these components comprise respectful treatment. Respectful treatment reinforces:

1. Company branding and marketplace integrity
2. Successful transition into new roles
3. Goodwill and future business partnerships with ex-employees
4. Continuing high performance of current employees

When developing respectful firing strategies, consider the entire process:

1. Communication

When developing effective firing strategies, focus on open communication rather than closed door practices. Previously, companies would conduct the terminations secretly, quietly and “walk out” the terminated employee as quickly as possible. No one wants to be treated like a pariah. Allow enough time to speak with the individual and address concerns. Then allow the individual to talk with other employees, gather their belongings and say good-bye. The individual needs to “grieve” as does his/her coworkers. The shock is more painful if the person’s desk is suddenly empty and people start creating answers instead of receiving them.

2. Career Transition Services

Employ transition services or outplacement firms to successfully re-deploy talent. It is not only a sound business practice, but a long-term, best-practice strategy. The terminated employee may become a future business partner, revenue generator or referral.

3. Honesty

Speak with the group or remaining employees regarding the termination. People begin worrying about when and how they will be fired. Allow employees to ask questions and answer questions honestly.

To maintain “employer of choice” status, the entire employment life cycle needs to be considered and treated respectfully. From interviewing, hiring, and onboarding to termination, severance and career transitions, employees carefully observe how companies handle the process. Promoting engagement and ensuring a high performing talent pipeline mandates the firing strategies be as effective as the hiring strategies.

Do you have a respectful firing strategy included in your hiring process? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by striatic

About the Author: Stacey Hawley owns Credo, a career counseling, workforce transition, leadership development and compensation advice firm for companies and businesses. Prior to launching Credo, Stacey was a board-level advisor (Fortune 500 firms, pre-IPO, private, startup and not-for-profits) for the largest HR global consulting firm (Towers Watson) in their premier executive compensation practice. She blogs regularly for workingmom.com, is a blogger and writer for Working Mother Magazine, writes for other outlets such as LearnVest, BusinessInsider and The Glass Hammer, and has numerous article citations. She graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Industrial and Labor Relations and received her MBA from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.