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In episode 26 of “The JoyPowered™ Workspace Podcast,” JoDee and Susan discuss how to fire employees in a humane way. They talk about questions to ask before you terminate someone, progressive corrective action, best practices once you decide it’s time to let go, and how to handle layoffs. Listener Bernadette asks whether it’s important to ask questions at the end of a job interview.
Firing may not sound like a JoyPowered thing to do, but it’s important to help people move on when they’re not in the right place. There are several questions you can ask yourself to determine whether or not you need to part ways with someone. For example: Is this a new problem, or has it been going on for a long time? Will the employee be surprised when you tell them they’re not meeting expectations? Is there anything unusual going on in the person’s personal life or in the company dynamics that may be affecting their performance? It may also be a good idea to recommend an EAP or include the number on corrective action forms.
JoDee and Susan suggest progressive corrective action; it demonstrates to outside agencies that you’re being fair, but also shows that you live the values of your company and don’t just get rid of people at the first sign of a problem. It’s important to understand what exactly isn’t working and to discuss with the person whether they’re happy in the job. And you need to actually give the person time to turn things around; it’s not about moving through the steps to terminate someone, it’s about trying to turn the person’s performance around.
Best practices for humane terminations include staying calm, discussing unemployment before the employee makes a decision to resign, telling people privately and individually, and giving them the respect to go back to their desk and say goodbye to coworkers. If an employee violates a major rule, like hitting another employee, coming to work under the influence of alcohol, or harassment, often an investigation needs to happen first; make sure you have all the facts.
When you’re in a position where you need to lay off employees, there are several things to consider when deciding who goes. For example: What are the key, essential jobs? Is anyone having performance issues? Are you open to a voluntary separation program? You may also want to put together a decision matrix based on the important factors for your organization.
Once you’ve decided who goes and who stays, make sure you give advance warnings to employees, as well as community leaders if your layoffs are subject to the WARN Act. Decide who else needs to know and determine an order in which they should be told; communication is key. Outplacement assistance should be offered, too; it’s a full-time job to find a job, and giving exiting employees help with resumes, LinkedIn profiles, where to look, networking, interviewing, etc. can be a huge benefit to both you and the employee.
In this episode’s listener mail, Bernadette asks whether it’s important to ask questions at the end of every interview (even if she doesn’t have any), and what kind of questions interviewers are looking for. JoDee and Susan discuss a class action lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers on the behalf of men over 40 who believe they’ve been disadvantaged by the company’s focus on campus recruiting.