Hey Compliance Warriors!
Part nine of our series is a continuation of what we need to avoid to conduct a successful termination meeting with an employee. Because there are so many possible outcomes that can transpire when we fire someone, we need to do everything we can to make the transition as seamless and painless as possible to minimize any potential blowback.
Part Nine: The “Don’ts” of Firing an Employee – Section II
Once an employee has been told they are fired, many managers believe that is the end of the process. However, there are still many factors to cover while the employee is still on the premises. After an employee has been let go, it is important that they are escorted off of the property as soon as possible to avoid a scene in the office or to avoid the risk of the employee damaging any company files.
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Not Making the Decision Final
Generally, employees never believe that they can be fired, or that they should ever be fired. So when the occasion arises, they are of course in shock. It is important for the manager to let them know that the decision to terminate them is final and cannot be changed. Some employees may believe they can bargain their way back into their job or can offer to change/improve/do extra to stay with the company. Inform the employee that the decision is final and cannot be changed. Remember that the termination meeting is meant to inform the employee of a decision that has already been made and is not a discussion forum. Remember to have a witness on hand to help support your decision.
Let Employee Take Company Property
It’s a common problem with companies that have terminated employees. It is often joked that terminated employees will sneak out a stapler or company pens when they leave and is often overlooked by the company and counted as a loss. However, company items such as computers or tablets, mobile phones, name badges, door badges and any form of access key should be returned to management at once. The employee should turn over the items they have on hand during their termination meeting. If needed, the manager can escort the employee to their desk or work area to obtain any remaining property. In the rare instance that company property is outside the office, such as in the employee’s car or at their home, it is important to set up some form of arrangement to have these items returned immediately. Some employers will hold the employee’s last paycheck or severance pay until the items are returned safely.
Allow Access to Work Area
The termination meeting is held in a location away from the employee workplace and is held privately. However, they will want to return to their desk to retrieve their personal items before leaving. Of course, these employees can become visibly upset and can cause a scene in the office. To help reduce upsetting other employees, the manager can offer to have the terminated employee’s belongings sent to their home or can have the items packaged and arrange for the employee to pick up at a later time or date. This method also allows for the manager and IT department to ensure that they can save any files or projects before the employee has a chance to delete or destroy them.
If the employee insists on picking up their property themselves, only allow them access during off-peak work hours, such as during a lunch period, after hours or even weekend days. This allows the employee to keep their dignity and avoid embarrassments with co-workers as well as ensure the manager that the terminated employee will not act out an attempt to create chaos in the office. Always remember to personally escort the employee to and from their desk, regardless of the time of day.
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Permit Information System Access
The manager has already established that an employee will not be allowed access to their work area unless they are accompanied by the manager or other official, and it is only long enough to retrieve their personal belongings. In addition, terminated employees must never be allowed to access their information system, such as their work computer, voicemails or even email systems. The employee should not be given the chance to access the system and delete files, change passwords or even lock up projects and resources. It is recommended that the manager contact a member of IT just before an employee’s termination meeting to ensure the employee’s access has been limited and then deleted. Once the employee has been terminated, they should not be able to access any of their former systems, either in the office or from home.
Peter has called Mary into his office. When she arrived, right away Peter told her that she was being fired from the company. Peter reviewed some of her past records, but told her that recently she was not receiving good scores for her job duties.
“Isn’t there something I can do to let me stay?” Mary asked.
Peter told her that the decision was final and that the company would not change their minds. He informed Mary that her system access had already been deleted, so he told her not to bother trying to check her email or retrieve any phone messages. The only thing Mary requested was to retrieve her personal items from her desk before she left the premises. Peter called the company security officer and requested for an office escort. Peter knew the security officer would keep Mary from overreacting in front of other employees, but would also ensure that she did not take anything from the desk that was considered company property.