Being an HR Professional definitely has its ups and downs!  And one of the biggest “downs” is when you need to lay-off or involuntarily terminate someone due to performance, conduct, attendance, etc.  It is important to remember that the eyes of other employees will be on you as you end someone’s employment with your company, whether due to lack of work or other causes.  The way you handle the process will certainly impact morale, as well as how remaining employees perceive you and your company.

As you prepare to meet with the individual being laid off or terminated, the most important question to ask yourself is, “How would I like to be treated if I were in this employee’s shoes?”   Letting the person go with his/her dignity intact is imperative.  After all, losing one’s job can be as stressful as a death in the family or a divorce.

Secondly, plan all the logistics so you know when and where the meeting will take place, who will attend (you may want a witness or supportive coworker with you), how long it will take, and where the employee will go directly after the meeting.

Thirdly, expect the unexpected.  Understand the employee may become angry, upset, cry or display other behaviors that can be challenging to deal with.  Allow the employee to express themselves as long as they aren’t being harmful to anyone.  Understand they will obviously have a reaction of some sort, so be prepared.

Next, ensure you give clear explanations.  Let the employee know exactly where they stand.  If their employment is terminated completely, say so.  If they are being laid off and there’s a possibility of re-call, give them as much information as you can so they know the extent of their situation.  After all, everyone needs to earn a living and it’s only fair to be as honest as you can be so the employee knows what next steps to take.

Lastly, be professional, regardless of what occurs during the interview.  Thank the employee for their contributions.  Inform them of any rights or entitlements they may have coming to them.  And be sure to arrange for the employee to remove their personal belongings in private.

These are just a few tips regarding the termination process.  For more, go to


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