Posted on Nov 3rd 2020.
Getting fired is never fun! However, it’s likely that we’ll all experience it at some point in our lives, how employers handle the situation can have a huge impact on the result. Sometimes employment termination can feel a bit like a break-up, it can either end on good or bad terms.
Being laid off or fired can cause employees to have negative feelings towards their boss/business and can increase feelings of anger, shame and sadness. Although, research has found that the threat of termination can actually have a positive effect on employee productivity and job performance.
However, when letting an employee go, both parties can find it emotional and challenging to deal with – Now thanks to social media, it has become a lot easier for ex-employees to harass or slander their former employer. Even the best of employers are not immune to the odd bad review or social media post.
This can have a big impact on the company’s public image, especially if left up with no response, which can cause potential customers, clients and employees to avoid the business. How companies handle the termination of an employee can have a significant impact on the outcome, reducing the likelihood of having a disgruntled ex-employee.
Oftentimes, employees can feel like their dismissal was unfair, which often leads to expensive tribunals and legal fees. The UK government has released guidance on what reasons lead to a fair dismissal; these include – being unable to perform your job, you have an illness that makes it impossible to do your job, redundancy, summary dismissal (e.g. gross misconduct, etc) and statutory restrictions.
Recently, employment law has changed, allowing any employee to make a claim for an employment tribunal with no cost to them! This makes it a lot more likely for ex-employees to make tribunal claims (e.g. unfair dismissal), which can easily damage a businesses reputation and public image.
This is why how businesses handle terminations or dismissals is important, as it can have a big effect on how employees react!
Private terminations save your employees from potential embarrassment, shame and anger which can have a big impact on their reaction. When management or employers have a more sensitive and compassionate approach, employees are far less likely to feel their termination was unfair.
Businesses should try their best to avoid their ex-employees feeling publicly embarrassed, ensuring details of the termination are kept private is a good way to avoid getting a bad public image.
One research paper investigated how preserving employee dignity during terminations can affect the employee reaction, they found that having a private and dignified termination can significantly improve the reaction displayed by the employee. They also found that public terminations and escorts (out of the building) created the highest levels of anger!
Getting into contact with disgruntled ex-employees can be very productive for both parties. It may be difficult for both sides to stay level headed, which is why this should be left to senior management or employers, to ensure professionalism while representing the company.
Reaching out privately can have a big effect on ex-employees, helping them to feel listened to and still valued (even if they’re no longer a part of the business). It has been found by research that firing staff can have a significant negative effect on their mental health, which is why reaching out can be so impactful.
Showing that the company still cares for ex-employees can seriously improve relations in this area and it can improve public image. However, this won’t work for every ex-employee and businesses need to stay level-headed if employees don’t have a positive reaction.
Businesses should keep a record of everything that happens leading up to and during termination to protect themselves in the event of a tribunal or legal action. Keeping records of meetings and informal or formal warnings can help further down the line, acting as a good back-up measure.
If a former employee claims there was no good reason for their dismissal, these documents can act as evidence in tribunals or court. Keeping documents relating to employee performance, attendance, grievances, disputes and more can make it much easier to defend the business and provide proof for the dismissal.
Having everything documented can also help in preventing claims of discrimination or unfair dismissal, if employees know record are well kept, they’re less likely to file a claim against your business.
Having legal insurance can help in defending businesses from angry ex-employees, not only does it save the company from pesky legal fees but can act as a deterrent if former employees know you’re covered – Making it less likely for them to take legal action against you.
When defending a claim from an ex-employee, it can cost thousands which could be better used elsewhere in the company. Having a good legal insurance policy avoids these unnecessary costs, allowing that money to be invested back into the company – Potentially to improve employer-employee relations.
Additionally, if an ex-employee is causing damage to the company, it may be beneficial to take them to court for defamation. Having good legal insurance makes it much easier to take actions against former staff who may be spreading false information about the business.
Plus, saving money on legal fees can allow you to offer compensation for the termination! Research has found that this can often significantly improve your relations with the ex-employee and reduce the chance of them becoming disgruntled.
With the rise of the internet, it has become much easier for ex-employees to damage their former employer’s reputation by slander on social media and bad reviews on employment websites. Glassdoor and Yelp allow for employees to review their employer, which can help potential applicants to decide what company to apply to.
Negative reviews on these sites or social media can lead to potential employees and customers going elsewhere, leaving your company with a bad name. On review sites, there is usually a system which allows for negative reviews to be taken down if they are false which can help with the company’s public image.
Having a strong presence on social media can also help with identifying slander, if your company doesn’t have good social media use, the negative things ex-employees say may be the only thing new employees and customers see. Often, responding to negative reviews or posts in a positive manner can help these situations (but always try to remain as professional as possible).
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