Giving an employee the hard word is never an easy thing to do. If you are operating a small business, it can be especially difficult in the face of changing governments and new employment legislation requirements. However, the more you understand about job termination the easier it will be to manage the process or possibly identify ways that might enable to you to keep the employee.
Take these 3 factors on board before tapping your employee on the shoulder.
1) Does your organisation have another area that might suit the skills of the individual?
If work is drying up in one department, perhaps there is another area of the business that may need extra support. Instead of losing the investment of a fully trained employee, it will be far more cost-effective to retrain that employee in a new role.
This tactic may also be effective for employees who may be struggling in the role they were originally hired for.
Likewise, if economic factors are impacting your business and forcing you to downsize other areas to keep your operations viable, assess whether an employee has other transferable skills that could assist your business in navigating the rocks ahead.
2) Make sure dismissals are legally warranted
If an employee feels they have been unfairly dismissed, they may make a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman. If there are grounds for the complaint, and Fair Work Australia (FWA) finds that the dismissal was unjust, they can make orders against an employer. Not liking someone's personality is not a justification for terminating employment!
FWA recommends employers give 3 written warnings to an under-performing employee. Ensure that all warnings are properly recorded along with any supporting documentation such as complaints from other employees or emails outlining any other misconduct.
Any discussions concerning underperformance should involve strategies provided by the employer to help the employee address any shortcomings. Regular reviews should be initiated to determine whether these strategies are assisting the employee with their performance.
3) Prevent underperformance
Great communication is a key factor in ensuring employees remains happy, motivated and productive. Underperformance can occur if an employee is not adequately trained or has been hired for a job requiring skills that were not properly communicated to the employee. To avoid underperformance in the first place, it’s recommended employers:
- Set out detailed job descriptions that clearly outline the desired skill set of the applicant.
- Have regular performance reviews that detail performance expectations or to discuss any additional responsibilities for the employee.
- Creating a supportive work environment where employees feel comfortable about discussing any questions or concerns about their role in the organisation.
Finally, if all else fails and you are in a position where terminating an employee is the only option, act with sensitivity and afford as much dignity to the employee as possible.
Organise a private meeting to explain why you have had to terminate their employment and provide honest feedback. In small or medium businesses, it is essential that the sudden absence of an employee be explained. You don't have to go into details, but do not leave 'the elephant in the room' unaddressed.