How to Fire Your Employees with Compassion

Getting fired isn’t fun for anyone, but sometimes it’s a necessary act. There are ways to make the situation worse or better though, and for the sake of both the employer and the employee, the latter is preferred. It helps take a difficult situation and make it amiable and sympathetic, even if it isn’t what either party wants to say or hear. The first thing any person planning on firing someone should do is give the individual as much notice or warning as possible – no-one wants to find out they’ve lost their job and then have no time to plan around the news. The second is to give them as much understanding as you can – this helps the individual to know what to say when looking for a new position, and also helps them to understand why they’ve lost their job and others in the company have not.


Experts agree that you shouldn’t ever fire someone on a Friday. While it may seem like a less awkward way of doing things, it actually gives the fired employee the entire weekend to feel miserable during a period of time where no businesses will be working, so they can’t even feel productive in looking for a new position. Firing someone during the week at least gives them chance to seek out resources and find help where they need it.  Monday or Tuesdays are the best days to do the deed, as it gives them a launchpad from which to make plans and act on them. Don’t schedule a meeting with remaining staff to inform them about what has happened, as this will only lead to unwanted questions and also promotes a slightly morbid atmosphere. You don’t want to make the loss of someone’s job gossip worthy, so if you need to inform colleagues then do so individually and quietly. Don’t broadcast the information to people who don’t really need to know, though. Depending on the office culture, keep it to office managers, direct supervisors, human resources and IT, if necessary.

One of the most important things to remember is that the situation should be thought through and planned – don’t try and wing it, in the hope that it will work out when the time comes. This situation is difficult enough and must follow a legally sound practice in order to give the individual everything they need, resource-wise. Some companies or occupations have disclosure requirements which determine what is necessary to reveal to the employee, and ad-libbing could put you at risk of a lawsuit if they haven’t received the information they really need. On a less serious note, it could simply open you both up to miscommunication, which isn’t fair on either side. The chances are they will only hear that they’ve been fired and very little else, but it pays to be concise and fair them regardless. On that note, put everything that you’ve said in writing – this is important for both parties. No doubt the fired employee will have many questions later when the news has had chance to sink in, and having the information to hand can come in handy when this happens. It will also help if there are any discrepancies later on, as you can confirm what information was actually provided.  Lastly, offer help to them should they require it – this may be in the form of a reference when they get a new job, resources to help them look for a new job, or help with their CV if they need it. The most vital thing to remember is to be professional throughout – though it is difficult, there is no reason that professionalism needs to go out of the window.

Comments are closed.