Examining
practical HR issues business owners
and managers encounter every day

How Do You Value Your Employees?
August 2006

Termination Tips

If you are in the position where you need to downsize your staff, consider these ideas:

  • Be careful if you’re downsizing people in stages. It extends employee trepidation and decreases productivity as each employee is wondering, “Am I next?”
  • Select who to let go wisely. There’s no rule that says last one in is the first one out. Identify your top performers and hold onto them.
  • Let go your poor performers, attitude problems, policy violators and trouble makers. Recreate your organization from a position of strength.
  • Determine the best methods for communicating the reduction.
  • Decide whether to inform people in groups or individually.
  • Prepare for your termination meetings in advance.
  • After the terminations, call your remaining employees together and let them know what occurred and what to expect next. Start a conscious effort of building up the morale of the remaining employees.
  • If you’re creating a termination letter, make it simple and understandable. State the termination reason and include last day worked, pay continuation, and benefits handling.
  • I always recommend having two people presenting a termination. There is safety in numbers and a witness to the discussion.
  • Can you offer outplacement services? One of my clients offered my resume writing and job search coaching to their laid off employees.
  • Don’t forget to collect all company material, tools, computers, phones, keys. etc.
  • Determine whether to let the employees pack their own belongings or are you going to do that for them. One of my clients allowed an employee to return to his office and he deleted the financials of the organization from the computer system.
  • Determine how you’re going to handle the employees’ exit. Most individuals will handle this well. But problem employees should be escorted out.
  • There’s so much more to consider.
  • Let me know if I can help you with termination planning, creating termination letters, writing unemployment responses, etc.

If you’re not
having fun
with your
human resources,
call Arlene today
at 952-996-0975

An Easy Comparison

A few issues ago, I shared the tale of the Radio Shack CEO who had falsified his resume and ultimately left the Radio Shack organization. Well, the news for the declining retail organization has not gotten much better.

It appears they hired a new CEO from K-mart who decided that the best way to lay-off 400 employees was by sending them an email!

Although employees were aware that lay-offs were coming, imagine getting your “pink-slip” via email? To add insult to injury, the employees were given plastic bags to pack their belongings, then asked to leave. I wonder if they were labeled: “I just got bagged by Radio Shack.”

I guess technology has its advantages. Now we can actually avoid telling our employees the truth about one of the most difficult things people face — losing their jobs!

In one report, I heard that Arthur Anderson previously sent voice mails to employees it was laying off or employees could check the status of their jobs on-line. At least the voice mail had a voice! But even so, it sure takes the pain out of the process for the employer if we don’t even have to tell our employees face-to-face that they’re out of work.

Actually, this is sounding like a great new strategy! Let’s say you have an employee who isn’t really doing his job well. Just send him an email and put him on performance warning. Or, let’s say you feel like someone doesn’t deserve a raise. Send her a voice mail and tell her that her performance is substandard. So, no quality work, no salary increase. Why meet in person, when you can hide behind technology to do your “dirty” work?

Copyright (c) 2006 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

Looking in the Mirror

Okay, I’ll admit to being a little sarcastic. Times sure have changed when employers think that all these tough decisions really don’t affect live people who have committed their time to work for an organization.

So, what does this mean to us? I’m sure that none of you are communicating this ineffectively. But we certainly could be relying on email and voice-mail communication a little too much for delivering information that we’re uncomfortable communicating in person.

What about when you have to make tough decisions regarding downsizing your staff, realigning duties, cutting wages, decreasing benefits or increasing employee benefits rates? These are not uncommon events in 2006. Have you reflected back on how effectively you’re sharing these deflating messages? With benefits costs skyrocketing once again, even if you’re giving your employees wage increases, they could be losing income. They’ve done the math.

It’s important to consider not only how decisions are made but how they are communicated to your human resources — and what the impact of that communication is on their personal lives, work morale, productivity and employee retention. We spend so much time making the tough decisions; do we spend sufficient time communicating them effectively to all affected parties?

Look back at the past six months in your organization. What important messages did you send to your employees, how was the information sent and how was the news received? Did your communication get the results you expected? If not, was it the message or the delivery?

Ask around and get others’ opinions on the matter. Then take these results into consideration with your next “big” communication. If your method of communication was blasted across the media, as was Radio Shack’s, how would you feel? They said that they informed their employees “as respectfully as we could.” Well, we all know that’s ridiculous, but somehow they missed the obvious. Could you?

Before I forget, here’s a key mistake made by Minneapolis- based Northwest Airlines. NWA hired a consulting firm to create a book of money-saving tips to help their laid off employees. Somehow, no one read the entire 101 tips and the list was very insulting. Included in the list were these brilliant tips:

  • Get hand-me-down clothes and toys for your kids from friends and relatives.
  • Ask your doctor for samples of prescriptions.
  • Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.

Very respectful tip, that last one.

Copyright (c) 2006 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

About Arlene Vernon

Arlene Vernon, PHR, partners with small businesses as their Human Resource Xpert to create their HR systems and solve their HR problems.

If you have gaps in your HR operation, have an employee problem to solve, or want to enhance your managers’ skills, call Arlene today. Learn
how HRx can save you time and help you avoid costly HR mistakes. HRx, Inc., 574 Prairie Center Drive #135/285, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, 952-996-0975,
www.HRxcellence.com.

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