Human Resources



The dos and don’ts of terminating staff

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With a gloomy economic outlook, more staff are expected to be made redundant in the the coming months. In 2016, Bank of East Asia, Lane Crawford and California Fitness are among the big-name companies that have already eliminated positions.

Breaking the bad news is never an enjoyable thing to do, and it has to be handled with great care. Recently, a truck driver in the US dumped a load of corn all over the highway after he learned that he had been fired via a text message, proving things can go really wrong if management does not have the courtesy to talk face-to-face with the employee about the situation.

According to a piece by Yolanda Qin in Jessica, here are the 3W and 1H – what, where, when, how – managers need to know when showing staff the door.

The person who is responsible for informing staff of the news should be the his or her immediate supervisor. This is because staff tend to trust their immediate supervisor more, compared to other members of the management team.

Don’t tell staff they have lost their jobs on a Friday afternoon, right before the work week ends.  The staff will be frustrated or angry all through the weekend and,  in worst-case scenarios, will try to think of ways to get back at the company.

Monday is the best time to talk face to face, as the staff will have the entire week to allow the bad news to sink in.

Use a place away from other staff.  Otherwise, if things turn ugly and the person being let go gets emotional, the entire office will be affected. The best place to inform an employee about his or her job being terminated is in a conference room or empty office. This ensures the staff’s privacy is protected and also prevents other employees from hearing what they do not need to know and start speculating about their own job security.

An one-to-one, face-to-face sit down is the most respectful way to inform an employee he or she has been made redundant. These meetings should not take more than 15 minutes and the manager should only focus on telling staff these three things: the decision to eliminate the job, why the decision was made, and what management plans to do.

Staff can get emotional after hearing the bad news, and the company must have a plan in place for them, including arrangements on salary, benefits, and a redundancy package. Do explain clearly to employees that the company’s policy on redundancy aligns with the local labour laws.

If it is a mass layoff, a group meeting should be called to tell staff that the job cuts are not directed at anyone in particular. In this case, it is best to host a seminar to communicate with the staff who are affected.

Commenting on the practice of eliminating staff through text messages, Scott Thomson, chief operating officer of Links International said despite work continuing to move towards mobile, any termination is a serious event and, as such, effective communication is key to ensuring a good understanding from both parties.  “We strongly believe that terminations should be a face to face discussion where possible,” he said.

ALSO READ: 8 ways bosses can get themselves fired

Photo/ 123RF

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