How to conduct a termination meeting

December 23, 2015 6:08 pm

A wise HR professional once said: “If you must swallow a frog, swallow it whole.” In reference to an employee termination meeting, that means keep it brief. This is not the time to re-chew and regurgitate prior performance discussions. The actual termination meeting should be standardized and brief—generally no more than 10-15 minutes.

Ask another member of management or HR to be present at the meeting to serve as a witness, and in certain situations, to ensure workplace safety. The context of the termination meeting should include the following:

  • A concise statement that employment is ending today. If you have followed a progressive discipline process, then mention the steps that led to the final employment decision.
  • Allow the employee to briefly vent any concerns, particularly if this is a single egregious act, as opposed to a progressive issue that has been fully aired previously.
  • Restate that the decision has been made.
  • Go through your termination checklist to ensure that all steps are followed in accordance with company policy and employment laws such as final paycheck and unused accrued vacation, unemployment insurance notice, COBRA notice, building keys, credit card or other company property, how references will be handled, etc.
  • Escort the employee to his/her workstation to collect personal belongings, or inform him or her that the items will be mailed to the home address on file. Make sure the employee promptly leaves the workplace.

Once the termination meeting is complete, it’s a good idea to inform staff that the employee is no longer employed with the company. If co-workers raise questions about the reasons for the employee’s departure, remember to protect the confidentiality of any personnel matter. Inform them that you would not share that information with others, just as you would protect their confidentiality in any employee relations matters.

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