There are a few areas of human resources and business management that are no fun for the people involved in carrying them out despite being necessary for the good of the company, and perhaps the single greatest example here is the realm of termination. Terminating any employee is never enjoyable, even if the reasoning is sound and fully justified -- but it often must be done, and there are some important themes to cover during this process.
At Integrated Companies, we're proud to offer a wide range of employer HR services, from payroll administration to benefits packages, HR management and more. What are some important HR themes to keep in mind when proceeding with any termination -- both for the HR department itself and for the benefit of the person being terminated? Here's a primer.
Compliance Obligations and Procedures
First and foremost, if your company has made the decision to move forward with termination of one or more employees, it's vital that your HR team ensures that all compliance obligations and procedures are followed to the letter. Depending on the state in which your company resides, there may be different laws and regulations in place dictating how terminations must be handled -- and if any key steps are missed or mishandled, your company could face serious legal repercussions down the road.
For instance, there may also be questions about final paychecks, outstanding loans or other financial obligations the company has to the employee -- and again, compliance with state and federal regulations is key to avoid any legal issues.
Another vital area here is the theme of ensuring the termination itself is not based on any kind of protected activity that may lead to discrimination claims. If an employee is terminated because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristic, that could open up your company to a discrimination lawsuit -- even if the termination itself is otherwise justified.
Integrated’s HR team is familiar with compliance obligations related to terminations and is happy to work closely with your company to ensure that every step of the process is handled correctly.
Managing the Transition
Once the decision has been made to move forward with termination, it's important to manage the transition in a way that is respectful and professional for all parties involved. Obviously, the person being terminated is going through a tough situation and will likely need some time to process the news -- but it's also important to think about how their departure will affect the rest of your team.
If possible, try to give the person being terminated some notice before their last day so they can begin to wrap up any loose ends and say their goodbyes. If that's not possible or practical, do your best to ensure a smooth transition for the rest of your team by having a plan in place for how their responsibilities will be covered going forward.
In either case, it's important to communicate with the rest of your team about what's happening in a way that is respectful and professional. Avoid gossiping or sharing too many details about the termination, and focus instead on how the company will move forward.
Don't Let it Be a Surprise
Down related lines, one of the worst things you can do during a termination is try to surprise the employee with the news. If at all possible, it's best to sit down with the person and have a direct conversation about what's happening and why. This can obviously be a difficult conversation, but it will help the employee to understand what's happening and give them a chance to ask any questions they may have.
It's also important that the employee be given a chance to provide their side of the story and explain any extenuating circumstances that may be relevant. This isn't always possible or practical, but it can help to avoid any potential legal issues down the road -- and it could also help the employee to understand the situation and accept the termination more easily.
Checklist and Items
There's also a practical side of this process, one that may include several key items that must be gathered from the employee being terminated. This could include company property like laptops, phones or other devices; keys to the office or other physical spaces; access cards or key fobs; and any company credit cards or other financial accounts.
In addition, you'll want to collect any company documents or files that the employee may have in their possession, and you may also want to change the passwords to any accounts that the employee had access to. This is all important to ensure that the employee cannot continue to access company resources after their termination.
And finally, it's important to have a clear understanding of what the employee is entitled to in terms of severance pay or other benefits. This will vary from company to company, but it's important to have a good understanding of what the employee is entitled to so there are no surprises down the road.
The termination process is never easy, but following these tips can help to make it as smooth and efficient as possible. For more on this, or to learn about any of our quality human resources services to companies around Utah, speak to our team at Integrated Companies today.