This article offers seven practices to consider in business when the time comes to terminate an employee.

2016. 2 pages.

Ending Workplace Relationships in Christ's Love

One of the toughest tasks we can face is releasing team members, whether due to poor performance, economic conditions, or a major breach of trust. No one enjoys the termination process. Most of us suffer from being too slow in making these difficult decisions, rather than being too quick, and will readily admit that this is one of the most distasteful aspects of exercising our responsibility in leading God’s businesses.

Using God’s Word and His ways as the foundation for our practices and policies gives us the best opportunity for a positive outcome.  The bottom line is that while we’ll never enjoy terminating people, we can learn to better use this and other difficult life circumstances to demonstrate the value and validity of our faith. Consider these 7 practices when the time comes to terminate an employee:

  1. Whenever possible, release an employee in person. Look them in the eye and tell them the truth with as much kindness and care as you can. People hate the proverbial impersonal “pink-slip.” It’s cold and demeaning. People have worth even when they fail to perform or the business can no longer afford them. Show them that you respect and care for them as people. Take the time to privately explain to them the reason for the separation.
  2. Be willing to discuss the employee’s immediate questions about the situation, not to debate, but to briefly explain.  A record of every recent evaluation and discussion regarding an employee’s performance should be available. Be sure your system is fair and that employees are given a chance to succeed. If you fall short here, determine now to get this vital area in order. Termination should not be a surprise in the case of poor performance.
  3. If possible, have the meeting on Friday. Try to avoid forcing the terminated employee to talk to other employees immediately after the meeting. Arrange for a private opportunity for the departing employee to clean out their office, desk or tool cabinet.
  4. Be as generous as possible, recognizing your stewardship responsibilities, with separation pay and terms. Depending on circumstances, position, seniority, and proprietary knowledge, do all you can to make finding another position as easy as possible. When in doubt, err on the side of being generous, gracious, helpful and giving.
  5. Unless the termination is the result of cause or gross incompetence, provide a helpful referral letter prepared in advance for them to use in future job searches. Be sure to have all relevant paperwork prepared and organized prior to the face-to-face termination meeting (e.g., timetable, benefits transition, 401K rollover, etc.). In some cases, when termination is due to market or strategic changes, you might offer to make industry contacts for them.
  6. In the case of a male terminating a female (or vice-versa), or in any potentially charged emotional situation, plan to have a third party present. If you’re in doubt, do it! Discuss the role you wish the second person to play prior to the meeting. This second individual should be selected with the intent of not adding to the stress of the employee being terminated.
  7. In all instances, act in compliance with all applicable employment law. If you have any doubts, pursue expert counsel before taking action.

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