Termination is stressful for everyone and it is important to keep the trauma of it away from the rest of your team or, at the very least, keep it to the absolute minimum.

Regardless of warnings and performance meetings, very few employees believe termination will happen.

Here are some top tips to help you deal  with the termination of a staff member:


Terminating employment using any digital method is not acceptable. Your other employees will be shocked if you use a phone call, email or letter – an if you are faced with an unfair dismissal clim the way you deliver the news could be deemed to be harsh. Best practice, no matter how cross or annoyed you are and regardless of the employee’s past behaviour, is to hold a respectful meeting. This can earn you much loyalty and trust from the other employees whereas a deemed to be harsh and disrespectful termination process may cause angst among the staff and may lead to a negative and toxic environment. Not to mention bad press and potential  social media posts grumbling about the workplace. There are websites that allow employees to rate their employer – negative reviews do have an impact on recruitment strategies.

Nothing Impetuous

Follow a proven procedure of employment termination or get help with it unless an appalling act occurs. It is too late to say “I wish I got advice” when the matter has already exploded and you find yourself with a claim.

All employees have the right to coaching and performance improvement plans (PIP) over time.  PIP allows for the cause of the underperformance to be ascertained. Employees need to be given the opportunity to respond and the chance to improve.

If performance improvement is possible, provide the employee with whatever help they need to achieve improvement. Track this via the PIP with measurable improvement requirements. It is not relevant if it is clear the employee cannot improve.

Document EVERY step in the improvement or termination process.

 Witnesses, Always

A witness is a second employee who hears and participates in the termination meetings in addition to the manager and is often an HR representative. The HR person usually has more staff procedure experience so will keep the process relevant and legally compliant. They make sure that the meeting is held fairly and that if there is any dispute over the facts there is someone to clarify and support.

An HR representative will also ensure fairness and limit liability.

Keep It Short

If you have reached the termination meeting phase, don’t use it as a platform to harangue the employee. Have an honest, detailed, non-blaming SHORT summary of the reasons for termination.  Wish them well in their future endeavours and with finding a position better suited to their talents. Make sure you have followed a procedurally fair process before you get to this final meeting. It would be best practice to look to have a final show cause meeting. A final opportunity for the employee to say why they should not be dismissed.

Be Clear

Don’t allow the employee to think that there is an opening to negotiate if there is no way back. Be respectful but straightforward. The meeting’s opening statement should state that the meeting’s purpose is to inform them of your employment termination decision.

Company Property

Ask for company keys, passes, badges and all company-owned equipment or supplies during the meeting. Go to the employee’s work area, preferably during lunch hour, to collect all the company-owned items. Always accompany the employee. Escort the employee to his car or off company premises.

Employee Access

If the employee is too upset to collect their personal items, make an after-hours option available for this or deliver them to the employee’s home.

Minimise the employee’s contact with other employees at the office and preserve the employee’s dignity. Ensure NO company-owned documents or items are removed.

Terminate the employee’s access to your electronic systems slightly before the termination meeting. At the very start of the termination process, get IT staff to monitor what company information might be leaking. If an employee wishes to send a goodbye note to everyone, post it on their behalf.


Your HR support person will have a termination checklist which provides guidance on what to tell the employee about what they can expect legally from the company after termination.

It is also legal proof of the topics shared with the employee.


Termination is a dirty word in anyone’s language but by being effective and supportive, you can benefit everyone in your team. Realise, too, that the rest of the team may need reassurance from you about their own jobs for a short time.

Contact our experienced, efficient professionals for assistance in smoothing the employment termination procedure, so that you and your team can  remain productive and happy. We can work side-by-side or remotely with you, within your budget parameters.