Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Ethically Letting Go of an Employee

Ethically Letting Go of an EmployeeLetting go of an employee is never an easy task, but it becomes necessary in order to keep a business running smoothly. If it becomes apparent that it’s time to part ways with an employee, here are some steps you can take to make the process as smooth and as fair as possible:

Issue a warning

It’s important to first give the individual a chance to improve their behavior. Sit them down and explain why you’re unhappy and how they can improve. Also set a deadline about when you need to see improvement. For example, you must see changes within 30 or 60 days. Being upfront prevents any confusion or miscommunication, and gives the person a chance to change their ways before you’re forced to take action.

Document warnings and past incidents

To prevent an issue in the future, make it a point to document warnings, problems, and conversations you’ve had with the employee in question. This record illustrates that you’ve given the person chances to improve, and shows that you’re terminating them for cause.

Get specific

It can be uncomfortable when you’re forced to talk with someone about how they’re underperforming. But don’t let the nature of the conversation prevent you from getting specific. Instead of saying, “You need to do better,” offer examples. What can they do to perform better? What steps can they take? What measurable goals do they need to be hitting? When an individual has a clear sense of exactly how and why they need to change, it makes it easier for them to adjust their performance in the office.

When it’s time to act, keep emotion out of the process

When it becomes clear that you must terminate the employee, keep it short and sweet, and avoid emotion. Don’t go into a long and in depth explanation. Instead, explain when the person will be expected to leave the office, cover any severance that they will receive, and don’t debate with them if they get defensive.

While firing an employee is never a pleasant task, doing so in a careful and respectful manner helps to make the process more manageable for everyone involved.

Image: Wavebreak Media Ltd/

Lauren Levine

Lauren Levine is a copywriter/blogger who contributes to a number of magazines and websites including The Frisky, USA Today, and others. She also authors her own blog called Life with Lauren. She loves cooking, anything on the E! network, and is trying to convince herself that running isn't so bad.