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When Is the Right Time to Part Ways With an Employee?

Knowledge Center / Blog

When Is the Right Time to Part Ways With an Employee?

By The Employer Group - May 30, 2023

Terminating an employee is never an easy decision, and it is important for employers to understand there may be risks involved when doing so. If your employee is having performance issues, consider these four steps to help reduce any risk that may arise:

  1. Communicate Expectations: Upon hire, the employee should be provided with a job description. As the employer, you should understand the responsibilities of the job, as well as what it takes for the employee to be successful in that specific role. If you don’t understand it, it’s hard to help your employee understand it.
  1. Be a Coach: Employees should continue to be coached throughout their employment—whether they are employed for 6 months or 6 years. It’s hard for an employee to perform to your expectations if they aren’t being provided with the tools needed to be successful. Positive reinforcement is essential when coaching an employee, as it allows them to understand what they did well, what they need to improve on, and what they can do to improve moving forward.
  1. Write It Down: When it comes to an employee’s performance, documentation is your best friend. This documentation should include concerns about where the performance is slipping, days you noticed the poor performance, and any warnings and/or any verbal conversations you have had regarding the performance. If conversations are verbal, employers should consider sending a follow-up email to the employee with a summary of the conversation, along with the expectations moving forward.
  1. Provide Written Guidance: Guidance that is provided in writing is key. Although it is like the Performance Improvement Plan, it helps the employee understand if there is no immediate improvement, their job is in jeopardy. It should still include guidance on what needs to be improved, with suggestions on how they can make those improvements, as well as how their employment may be affected if no improvement has been made. Employees should also sign this agreement, confirming they understand the improvement needed and the consequences of not meeting expectations.

When to Have the Termination Conversation:

If there is no improvement, despite all your efforts, it may be time to move forward with terminating the employee. Although it still may not be an easy decision, you have the documentation to show necessary steps were taken to help the employee improve. Be sure to have all the documentation ready to review with the employee during the conversation. Also, be sure to have a termination letter ready for the employee that states the date of termination, the reasoning for the decision to terminate, and anything you feel may be relevant to their final pay, such as: date they will receive their final pay and (if applicable) any holiday, vacation, and/or separation pay that will be included.

*Note: Some states require employees to receive their final paycheck on the day they are separated from employment, so be sure to look into your state laws prior to terminating an employee.

The topic of termination is a stressful subject for all parties involved. However, following these few steps can help alleviate that stress, while also reducing the risk that can come along with it. Working with qualified HR professionals like The Employer Group to navigate these tricky employment decisions has a great return on your investment – let us know how we can help!


This information does not constitute legal advice.

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