Firing an employee is one of the hardest decisions that an employer needs to make but it is necessary and unavoidable in some instances. Prior to firing an employee, there are a number of considerations that the employer needs to have in mind. We remind you of the top six things you need to consider before firing an employee:
- Consider the Reason for Firing the Employee
As an employer, it is important to be capable of clearly articulating why you have terminated an employee. Due to harsh economic conditions, it may be necessary to reduce one’s workforce in order to manage labour related costs. Some positions in an organization can be rendered obsolete or redundant as a result of organizational changes or technological advances. An employee’s less-than-acceptable performance could be a pivotal reason to let go of the employee. The reason for firing an employee should be backed up by adequate documentation. If an employee is being terminated due to poor performance, the results of previous performance reviews should be documented. If the employee is being terminated due to position redundancy, the employer needs to clearly justify his decision to fire a section of employees in the section e.g. seniority, qualifications etc.
- Consider Taking Corrective Actions Before Firing the Employee
In some instances, an employee needs to be given a second chance before being terminated. The employee and the employer can discuss a plan to correct the mistakes of the employee as a mitigation measure. This plan should be discussed after the employee has been made to understand his or her mistakes e.g. failure to meet performance targets. Clear outcomes of corrective actions to be undertaken by the employee should be spelt out in the plan. A meeting to review the employee’s conduct should be held after a set amount of time.
- Consider Individual Employment Contracts Entered into with the Employee
There may not be any clause in an employee’s contract that guarantees perpetual employment but there may clauses that indicate that the employee can only be terminated after the fulfillment of certain conditions. In organizations where the workers are part of a union, it may be necessary to show cause in order to demonstrate that an employee engaged in behaviour that is contrary to the organization’s code of conduct. Termination due to economic reasons could be limited to seniority by a collective bargaining agreement which is a legally binding agreement between the union and the employer. Such factors need to be carefully considered before terminating an employee.
- Consider the Needs of the Clients
Most organizations depend on the relationships established by their employees with their clients. The sudden termination of an employee can have a devastating effect on the relationships that have been established with clients hence the need for a transition period. If proper checks and systems are not put in place, an organization can make serious losses due to failure to manage client’s relationships that had been established by terminated employees.
- Consider When to Fire the Employee
Is it better to fire someone on Friday afternoon or on Monday morning? The answer may seem obvious but it is not always a black and white affair. An employer needs to fire someone as soon as the decision to do so has been unanimously arrived at by the top management. However, failing to determine an appropriate time might lead to involving the employee in key projects, much to the detriment of the team’s needs. For some positions, there might be a need for handing over crucial information or instructions. A clear timeline should be set and adhered to once the decision to fire someone at your organization has been arrived at.