Ending the employment relationship with an employee can be a daunting task for any manager, but it’s also important to consider the impact that the termination has on the employee. The way an employee perceives how he or she is treated during the termination process can impact your business.
Everyone agrees that it’s important to make sure that all checklist items (such as final pay, COBRA notifications, return of company property, etc.) are addressed in the employee separation. But the timing of such items is equally as important, particularly the termination of access to the company’s networks, computers and mobile devices.
Let’s consider this scenario: You and your management team have decided that your account executive needs to be terminated for poor attendance. You plan to have the termination conversation with her when she reports to work tomorrow morning. When do you disable her access? Some managers do this immediately once the decision is made.
The problem with this practice is that the employee may try to access her email from home the night before to plan her workload for the next day. An employee should never discover that she’s losing her job from a notification that she’s been locked out of her email.
Mistakes like this can create feelings of hostility toward the company and lead to a difficult termination conversation. The employee may feel as though the company “didn’t have the decency” to tell her about her termination directly, which shows a poor level of professionalism and can even create an environment of mistrust and disloyalty among remaining employees.
Also, an employee who feels that she hasn’t been treated fairly often has a harder time accepting responsibility for the actions that led to her termination.
As a general rule, employee accounts and access should be disabled during or immediately following the actual termination conversation. Timing is critical. As the terminating manager, you want to focus on the employee’s actions and behaviors, and not mistakes the company has made during the termination process.