chapter 9


No matter how they leave, losing an employee is tough sailing. You’ll have to pick up their projects, keep things moving, and, of course, ultimately replace them and start the whole process over again. But if you’re organized and know what to expect heading in, it’s not as painful as it might seem at the outset.

We’ll start by looking at an amicable split. After all, whether your employee decided to start her own company, found a new job, retired, or needed some time for herself and her family, you can’t expect your employees to stay forever. people quit each and every day.

What happens when an employee quits my business?

Firstly, if this is a valuable employee and they’re leaving to head to another business, consider making them a counter-offer. The worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say that they’ve already accepted or just think it’s time to move on. But at least you gave it one last shot.

Most employees know that it’s common courtesy to give at least two weeks notice before they leave. Make sure you take that time to figure out where they are in their projects, transition them to another employee, take notes, and do your best to have the details you need for their replacement.

We’ll discuss exit interviews below, but depending on your situation, you might ask your employee to complete a Letter of Resignation if he or she hasn’t done so already. It’ll help keep your records squared away, but it’s certainly not a legal requirement.

What about when I need to fire someone?

Ideally, you want to exhaust all your options before you terminate someone. You want to keep troubled employees informed about their issues from the get-go and work on a performance review plan. Consider using an Employee Evaluation Form to have something to compare past and future performance against.

Depending on your company, you might have your own method for handling disciplinary situations, such as performance reviews or improvement plans. For example, if an employee is constantly late to work, you may want to give an initial feedback. This is basically a verbal caution about the problem. Set a deadline, if it seems helpful, to give your employee a goal for correcting the problem. If this issue pops up again, you can give another verbal or written warning. Make sure you document these warnings and keep them in the employee’s file.

If the issue continues to escalate, you may want to suspend the employee. Depending on the situation, you can choose to give them a period of time without pay so they can regroup and refocus.

Of course, sometimes, nothing helps and it’s time to let someone go. Using a Termination Letter lets you plainly spell out why an employee was fired and allows you to keep that information in case the employee files any sort of action against you. This, of course, is rare, but a Termination Letter will show the courts you had a valid and legitimate reason for firing a poor performer. And not only will this help protect you from potential lawsuits but it should help minimize your terminated employee’s anger, confusion, and stress as well as maintain morale in the office by underlining the fact that nothing more could be done in this no-win situation.

What’s the difference between a termination and a layoff?

It’s important to distinguish between a termination and a layoff because employees who are laid off are eligible for unemployment benefits and COBRA (health insurance extensions).

A layoff is when you’re cutting staff for reasons other than poor performance. This can happen because your business is losing money, because you simply don’t have enough work to go around, or, really anything that doesn’t have to do with your workers doing a poor job. Employees who are laid off can receive unemployment, COBRA, and other government benefits.

A termination (or firing) is when you let someone go who is doing a poor job. Whether it’s habitual tardiness or plain bad work, getting fired means that employee often cannot get government benefits. That’s why letting an employee know he or she is on the hot seat is so important. Getting fired, frankly, can be a hard thing to recover from, emotionally and financially.

How do I conduct an exit interview?

When anyone leaves your company, it’s smart to find out why they made that decision. you want to know what they think. This is especially true if someone quits, as you’ll want to know how you can avoid losing great performers in the future. Were your salaries too low? Was management hard to work with? Was it just too good of an opportunity to pass up? This will help you understand exactly how to keep your next great new hire.

An exit interview sets aside a designated time to get candid information about what it’s like for someone else to work at your company. Craft your questions for this face-to-face meeting in conversational style. Asking yes-or-no questions won’t produce much feedback so try to ask open-ended questions. Be open, don’t take things personally, and, above all, listen. Otherwise, you won’t get much out of it.

Also, one more thing: don’t forget to remind your employee that they signed an NDA. Often, they might not remember they signed one in the first place, especially if your employee’s been there for a while.


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