Blog Archives

Termination. Up in the Air?


There comes a time when every organization needs to make the tough decision to lay-off or terminate its employee(s).  And then there are the political assassinations.  Regardless of the cause, there are certain steps and measures an organization can take to protect itself.

Organization-Specific Protective Measures:

  • Risk of Intellectual Property (IP).  The IT department must be notified before notification is sent to the employee.  Reason: There have been cases of employee retaliation by deleting files &/or sharing the IP with the competition.
  • Property Risk.  Security must be alerted prior to notification delivered to the employee.  Reason: There have been cases of employee retaliation by stealing equipment, e.g. hardware.
  • Financial Risk.  Human Resources (HR) must close all corporate credit cards.  Reason: There have been cases of employee retaliation by making extravagant personal purchases.
  • Legal Risk.  The Supervisor must always have HR present as a 3rd party.  Reason: There have been cases of employees retaining legal counsel because of contradicting accounts of the separation.
  • Fall-Out.  Eliminating beloved colleagues dampens morale; and, observations/stories of how the organization treats those dismissed will only hasten the departure of other talent.  Human Resources must be synonymous with “Humane” and “Resourceful.”
  • Physical Endangerment.  Security must be alerted prior to notification delivered to the employee.  Reason: There have been cases of employee retaliation by striking or shooting co-workers.

Employee-Specific Protective Measures:

  • ReviewTypically, there is a 21-day window to review your Separation Agreement and sign.  Do NOT allow HR/Supervisor (or his/her boss) to place pressure on you to sign before lunch that day.
  • Note.  Separation AGREEMENT is not the same as Separation NOTICE.  Make sure you have both.
  • Seek Counsel.  While you are still an employee, you may use the Corporate Legal Counsel or you may wish to seek your own.  Private attorneys usually charge by the hour to review contracts.
  • Third-Party.  Do NOT hold private conversations with HR/Supervisor upon having received your notification.  This can get you into a one-said versus other-said situation.
  • Don’t Vent.  As well as you think you may know HR, keep your venting in until you reach non-company friends.
  • Forward.  Any personal emails you may have on your work computer (e.g. compliments, emails, etc) should be back-upped by either being forwarded to a home email or placed into DropBox.

Many of us know and have experienced first-hand how we tend to share a negative experience quickly. Bad news travels faster than good news by 75% to 42%. The large majority of the general population say they advise friends and family when they’ve had a bad experience.  Meanwhile, we tend to take positive experiences for granted.  With Social Media taking center stage in informing today’s workforce which companies actually are “Great Places to Work,” it would behoove organizations to follow these further recommendations…


  • Avoid EOY (End of Year).  Plan terminations/lay-offs away from Christmas/Chanukkah, if possible, and not prior to bonus or Annual Incentive Award announcements.  The perception is that the company does not care about the well-being of its employees, and that it is stiffing the employees from monies earned.
  • Practice EQ (Emotional Intelligence).  Relieve employees of their duties upon impact, if requested.  Some do not wish to carry on with their responsibilities, due to the awkward state that may ensue.
  • Nip anxiety and rumor in the bud.  Inform employees at the soonest notice possible.  One company allowed its employees to wait six weeks between its earnings release and the pink slips.  This resulted in much lost productivity surmising who would be let-go.
  • Value Privacy.  Hold a lock-down on each individual’s termination/lay-offs.  One employee was told good-bye by a co-worker and s/he hadn’t told a soul.  Another could read it on the face of his/her supervisor’s peers several weeks before the notification.
  • Pay Earned PTO.  Allow employees an opportunity to use their earned Paid Time Off, or receive a pay-out.

For the organization, remember- a legacy is built upon deeds (ACTIONS).   For the individual, adhere this wise dictum I learned in Washington, DC, “Remember those who you meet on the way up, because you may see them on the way down.”

Thank you.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, author, cultural analyst, coach, speaker, and facilitator.


©Rossina Gil, 2013