Dismissing an employee is not always an easy task. There are often concerns about how the employee will react, as there are some who may even become violent at the understanding that they are going to be losing their job. When layoffs have to be done, there are generally a number of employees who will be dismissed due to that layoff, so the potential for anger and frustration on the part of the employees rises higher. There are ways to handle the issue, of course, but managers have to be prepared for the various things that could take place so they can do the best possible job of ensuring that the employees understand the issue and handle it properly. If an employer conducts the dismissal meeting the right way, he or she will be much more likely to diffuse the situation and lower the chance of any serious problems taking place between management and employees. That protects the company, and it also protects the dignity of the employees being dismissed.
There are three ways in which a manager can cope with negative emotions that generally accompany the layoff of an employee. The first of these is to find the proper place to conduct the meeting. Giving someone layoff information in front of others in the company is not only bad form, it is bad for the morale of the remaining employees because they wonder if they are next (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). A dismissal meeting should always be conducted out of sight of other employees, and also out of earshot. It is important not to have the meeting interrupted, and for other employees of the company not to know what is taking place during the meeting. Neutral ground is best, so the meeting should be held in a place that is not the manager's personal office and not the employee's personal office or workspace (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). In some companies, however, this is a very difficult thing to do. A quiet public place can work for a dismissal meeting, too, as it is neutral ground and reduces the chances of an outburst from the employee (Redman & Wilkinson, 2006).
When to hold such a meeting is another way to help reduce negative emotions. If at all possible, a dismissal meeting should take place early in the day, and also early in the week (Redman & Wilkinson, 2006). Fridays are a poor choice, as are days that are right before vacations or holidays. When a person is dismissed from his or her job due to a layoff, it is better if he or she has the opportunity to start pursuing other opportunities right away. That is much more easily done on a weekday, early in the week, than on a Friday where the dismissed employee will have all weekend to brood about the layoff and be angry about it. People in general handle adversity better early in the day, too, because they are fresher and not as tired (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). When the dismissal meeting takes place early in the day, the odds are higher that the employee will handle it well. The person conducting the meeting is also better served, because he or she will have time to get back to the routine of the day and get over any negative feelings that might have been created by what took place during the dismissal meeting (Cascio, 2002).
Third, the manager should be open as to the reason for the discharge, because the majority of employees prefer to hear the truth, even if it is uncomfortable at the time (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). Lying just to make the employee feel better is rarely a good idea. It does not help the employee make changes that may help him or her in the next job, and it does not help the employee understand what really happened that made him or her such a bad fit for the particular company. While it may be hard to tell the truth -- depending on what the real truth of the situation actually is -- it is still generally better to be completely honest with an employee during a dismissal meeting, so there are fewer hard feelings and the employee does not leave the meeting feeling as though he or she has been lied to and manipulated. Dismissal meetings are often easier to handle if the parties to them are honest with one another, and do not attempt to make up reasons for dismissal that will spare the employee's feelings (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003).
There is a step-by-step process that can be used for handling a dismissal meeting. These steps begin with the honesty that was mentioned previously. Giving a satisfactory explanation for the dismissal can reduce the chances that the employee will try to sue or otherwise retaliate, and can also help the employee understand and accept things that he or she may be doing that results in a poor working relationship with his or her employer (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). It is also important, however, to hear what the employee thinks about the events that have led to dismissal (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). In the case of a layoff this is not as pertinent, because it is often not employee conduct that has caused the dismissal, but rather internal issues that are taking place in the company and of which the employee has become a victim. Regardless of any other information provided, though, it should be made clear that the decision is a final one. When companies are not direct about this, they can be bothered repeatedly by employees who want to know if they can return to work at some point (Cascio, 2002). If that option is not open, management should be clear about that.
Address the benefits that the employee will receive, if any. There are often monies owed to the employee on the next pay date, for example, and there may be accrued vacation that has to be considered. Additionally, there may be a severance package, a continuation of health insurance for a period of time, and other matters that can and should be discussed. It is fair and appropriate that the employee knows what compensation will be coming to him or her, and when that will take place (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). Also provide information on the policy for giving a job reference, so the employee can determine whether he or she will want to use the company as a reference for future employment and what will be told to the person seeking the reference (Redman & Wilkinson, 2006). Then, collect anything the employee has that belongs to the company, such as badges, keys, credit cards, cell phones, and any other property that the employee has been allowed to carry or take possession of during his or her employment with the company (Cascio, 2002).
In most dismissal cases that involve layoffs, there is compensation that will still be owed to the employee. It is very important that the company determine how much compensation the laid-off employee will receive, and the timeline for disbursement of any and all benefits that are still due to that employee or that the company has agreed to give him or her (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). In this fictitious case, the employee will receive the pay that he or she is owed for the time worked since the close of the previous pay period at the dismissal meeting, to provide the employee with something positive to take away from that day. Doing that can help an employee handle the dismissal meeting better (Baumol, Blinder, & Wolff, 2003). On the next standard pay date, the employee will receive a check for the vacation days and sick days the employee had not yet used, so the employee knows when to expect that pay. Additionally, because it is a layoff and the employee is not being dismissed for an infraction of some type, the employee will also be provided with three months of pay as a severance package, which will begin on the pay date following the date on which the sick pay and vacation pay was issued. The health insurance and life insurance the employee had will continue if the employee chooses to pay for COBRA coverage, or the employee can make other arrangements.
This chart shows the timeline of the compensation provided to the employee, as per the information provided in the dismissal meeting.
Layoffs affect the company. There are three main ways in which they do this. The first way is through a reduction in the workforce that is generally needed by the company (Redman & Wilkinson, 2006). When a company has layoffs, it is usually because it is losing money and can no longer afford to pay its workers at the level it has been doing. Since it cannot simply ask everyone to work for less money, the only way to address…