How Do I Terminate Employees Remotely? Five Steps to Make It Easier.

June 24, 2020 | 569 views

How Do I Terminate Employees Remotely? Five Steps to Make It Easier.
How Do I Terminate Employees Remotely? Five Steps to Make It Easier.

It is always best to lay off employees in person. But we can’t do that right now, and chances are that we cannot do that for many weeks or even months to come. Our current pandemic’s historic, negative impact on the economy has businesses from hotels to construction companies reevaluating their staffing levels. Going forward, layoffs (and hiring) will more regularly occur remotely, and we have to shift our ways of handling a sensitive HR task.

Even when needed and appropriate, terminating an employee is not a favorite task of any manager. It was difficult two months ago as the economy came to a screeching halt. And, as we take baby steps to open up, there may still be more right-sizing that is necessary. Consider these five steps as you transition employees out of your organization (no matter the reason) when you cannot do it in person.

  1. Terminations Should Not Be a Surprise. If a termination is due to right-sizing, staff should know that it is something you are considering in order to preserve the company and the greatest number of jobs. If a termination is caused by performance issues, the appropriate performance reviews should already be in place. No one should be completely surprised.
  2. Choose Your Method Appropriately. While many of us have grown more accustomed to regular video conferencing recently, a phone call will work for this purpose too. If connectivity is not reliable, a phone call might actually be better to ensure a smooth conversation without audio delays.
  3. Respect Privacy. We are taking calls, emails, and meetings in our homes. Respect people’s privacy and dignity by scheduling this important call so that they can be in their office or quiet area. Calling someone unexpectedly is inappropriate; the employee deserves to be alone so they can ask questions and process information without distraction. If a group layoff occurs altogether via video, turn off cameras so only you are visible. This allows each person to react without being seen by everyone else.
  4. Be Encouraging. Unless an employee is terminated for illegal activity, do your best from afar to show some compassion for their unfortunate situation. Recommend the use of Employee Assistance Programs, provide outplacement services if appropriate, and let them know if they might be rehired in the future.
  5. Follow-Up. Once the information of termination is shared, be sure all relevant paperwork is sent and IT changes are made. Company security and equipment issues have changed for many organizations. Curtailing access must change quickly once the employee has been notified.

No matter the reason or the time, employment terminations of the future will not be done face to face as often as in the past. It is not ideal, but a bit of planning will make the change easier and respectful.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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