How to Let Go of an Employee

How to Let Go of an Employee


Letting go of an employee is never an easy task. People depend on their job for an income and to provide for themselves. However, when someone violates company policy, isn’t contributing in a satisfactory manner, or if budget cuts need to be made, it inevitably has to happen. In order to navigate this tricky task, check out our tried and true tips from industry experts.


Outline Policies in Your Employee Handbook

Every business has different expectations for their employees. A fine dining restaurant may require a strict dress code with natural colored hair and no tattoos, whereas &pizza encourages their employees to embrace their look and will even pay for an employee’s tattoo. Outlining policies around expected performance, attire, customer service, anti-harassment, attendance, and outlining fireable offenses are crucial to start a working relationship off on the right foot. These expectations should be made clear for appearance and attendance before an employment offer is extended. When someone is hired on, the full employee handbook should be given to them as a hard copy, along with an emailed version.


Create a Warning System

It’s important to create a warning system regarding fireable offenses. One example is an employee gets three strikes for missing a shift without notice before getting fired. It’s also important to note any exceptions to this rule. By creating a warning system, employees become aware of the consequences of their actions. In addition, a written warning system levels the playing field for managers who have favorite employees and tend to give them more leniency than others.


Document All Problems

Whether you are an at-will employer or not, it doesn’t hurt to document the reasons along the way of why you are releasing an employee. This means recording when they miss a shift, give their friends a free drink at the bar, or simply if someone was hired to be a seasonal-only employee. It’s important to document and store all of this information in a secure place in your office that isn’t accessible to other employees.


Be Professional

Whether you are angry at an employee who stole or releasing a beloved seasonal employee, it is important to remain professional. This entails harnessing your emotions to be to-the-point and be unwavering in your decision. To be courteous to the employee, a professional setting away from their peers and in-person is the best way to release an employee. Another courteous tactic is to avoid releasing people on holidays or personal days.

In addition, if it’s an employee you enjoyed having around, but must let go for budgetary reasons, consider offering to write a letter of recommendation or your approval to be used as a reference. 


Check with Legal

Most states and companies have an “at will” employment cause. By definition, this means that an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason, or without “just cause” for termination, and without warning, as long as the reason is not illegal (e.g. firing because of the employee’s race, pregnancy status, religion, etc). However, before going through with releasing an employee, check with your company’s legal team or provided documents on letting go of employees to ensure you are not violating any statutory, implied-in-law, or public policy rules. You may need to release an employee at a specific time, provide specific documents, have a second person present, or more in case the employee retaliates.

In conclusion, letting go of either a terrible employee or an exceptional one is never easy, even for seasoned managers. By setting yourself up for success from the beginning with outlined policies and expectations for employees, you can ease the pain of letting go of an employee. To ensure you only hire great applicants the first time around, learn more about our Applicant Matching System.


Before making your next hire, ensure they are what you are looking for with our guide on How to Identify Action-Oriented Applicants.