Employee downsizing, layoffs and terminations are one of the least favorite job responsibilities for most human resource professionals, but they are a reality nevertheless. In past posts, we’ve talked about best practices for terminations and firings as well as offering some good ways to deliver bad news. We recently came upon some practical tips from Employco USA for ensuring that any necessary employee terminations are handled in the most compassionate manner possible and we share them with you here:

To avoid negative repercussions (such as a wrongful termination lawsuit), all companies large or small should have a procedure in place for properly downsizing or firing employees. Instilling programs that provide financial planning or other resources for recently laid off employees protects the integrity of the business as well.

“Appropriately handling the termination process not only benefits the employee in question, but the company as a whole,” says Rob Wilson, CEO of Employco USA, human resource outsourcing company. “It will provide reassurance to other employees and limits tension, which is conducive to a productive work environment. It also provides the terminated employee with resources for coping during the transition.”

Below are five steps employers can take to help with the transition process:

1. Proper Procedure: During the termination, include all documents related to job performance such as work reviews and written warnings to prevent any misunderstandings, and have a witness present to oversee the proceedings. Be sure to explain clearly (yet courteously) as to the grounds for termination, avoiding debate on the issue. Handle the termination with a human element, treating them as a person and not a number, and be sure to keep the termination confidential to maintain the former employee’s privacy.

2. Outplacement Services: Typically hired by larger companies, outplacement firms can offer great assistance to recently laid-off employees. They provide help with resumes, hone interview skills, offer networking workshops and even access to life coaching.

3. Financial Transition Planning: This asset will help the terminated employee understand their economic situation and offer financial advice as to how their accounts should be handled. They can educate the employee on finding a new job that provides the necessary compensation to pay their bills as well as assisting with their 401k and overall retirement plan.

4. Severance Package: Organizations that offer severance packages to downsized employees are providing them with a resource during the transition period. Most companies compute severance payments using a formula that is based on years of service among other factors.

5. Offer Compensation Upfront: At the time of termination, provide the employee’s accrued salary to him/her in person with a paper check to avoid discrepancy. In addition, financially compensate the employee for any remaining vacation days or paid time off days that were left.

6. Resources: While not all companies may have the budget to offer access to an outplacement firm, that doesn’t mean they need to leave terminated employees out in the dark. At the very least, businesses can provide a list of resources and contacts where the terminated employee may seek assistance with their new situation.

When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.


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