Blog Service of Firing Employees: Is There a Good Way?

April 15th, 2019

Categories: Fire, Firing, Jobs, Kindness

There’s no perfect way to pull the plug on any relationship–personal or professional. Chip Cutter wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the impetus these days to find the best way to fire employees is to avoid “the potential for a conflict—or even violence.” He referenced the five killed by a crazed ex-employee in an Aurora, Ill. factory two months ago.

I like to think that kindness and empathy may help–figuring out the humane way to behave is best. It also reflects well on a company that, in turn, impacts the remaining employees, unless company culture is to keep employees on tenterhooks. I don’t do well in that environment.

I’ve always heard that Friday is the worst day to fire someone because the person is left in the lurch with a weekend to stew and stress and yet Cutter reported that conventional wisdom has chosen it these days because it often coincided with the end of a pay period. This strategy clearly reflects a focus on the employer, not on the people losing their path to survival.

“Letting a person go on a Wednesday gives them time to contact other employers and look for work during business hours the following days,” Bubba Fatula, a former law-enforcement official who is director of threat preparedness at Gittings Protective Security Inc. told Cutter.

Tuesdays through Thursdays “allow terminated employees to follow up during business hours with questions about benefits after the job loss and give remaining staffers who may be worried about their own roles time to ask questions and get reassurance” said Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at recruiting software company Jobvite Inc.

“Unless someone is fired for egregious conduct, Suzanne Gleason, division director of staffing firm Global Employment Solutions, said she asks employees how she can assist them in finding another job.”

And “In contentious situations, [Beth] Steinberg will give her phone number to employees and encourage them to call or text with questions. If she fears there may be mental health or anger issues, she uses language such as ‘I can imagine this might be difficult for you,’ and refers them to resources still covered by their health benefits, such as an employee assistance program.’ She’s chief people officer at Zenefits.

Several HR execs recommended extending benefits like health insurance.

“Team Fireball Inc., in the Chicago area, offers training on how to keep firings from going awry. It coaches companies to conduct terminations near an exit and in a quieter part of the office to prevent a ‘walk of shame’ by the worker who has been let go, said Debbie Pickus, chief executive. The training also teaches HR staffers in basic self-defense and how to move their body to create a barrier between them and the employee, if needed.”

For those who are fired, executive coach Roberta Matuson suggests the ex employee learn details about why they are fired; take their time before signing anything; negotiate severance pay, health insurance etc.; never fume on social media and focus on the job search.

Is it better to be downsized than fired? Have you heard of a humane way to be fired or is there no such thing? If an employer takes the blame for hiring someone that wasn’t fit for the job would this help the morale of the person let go? Do you feel that a corporate environment based on fear of being fired has the best results? Do you know successful people like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Steve Jobs who were once famously fired?

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8 Responses to “Blog Service of Firing Employees: Is There a Good Way?”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    I don’t believe there is any easy way to let someone go. I have held many positions before I started my own company, and several of them I was fired just because it had to be done for the company’s sake of downsizing… Other times I know it was definitely my fault. Lack of enthusiasm for the job. Sometimes it’s political! Yes, counting the current administration.

    You can be doing a really excellent job for the company, but not get along with your boss, or you see that he or she is taking credit that you deserve… In any event you get the point, many reasons to let someone go.

    I believe Jobs was even fired from his very own company for a while… Until they floundered. A floundering Apple needs a Jobs.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Some of the most talented editors I’ve known were fired. You point to politics and that’s one reason. Jealousy/competition is another. In a different industry one of the best colonels my husband worked for had a meteoric climb to Lt. Colonel–the youngest at the time to reach that title– when he came across a jealous boss and he was almost kicked out as a result. I have countless examples and even some in which like Apple, the former employer realized the mistake they had made but unlike Apple, didn’t have the guts to rehire the person.

  3. ASK Said:

    Firing anyone is not easy, but given the procedures (documenting poor performance in writing and meetings with the potential pink-slipped person to discuss these issues) many HR departments require before someone can be fired should give the employee a clue that all is not well. I’m a little puzzled by one HR person in the article who said she tries to help the fired person find another job…I would take that with a grain of salt unless she directs them to find a job in another field, depending on why that particular person was let go in the first place.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I get your point but I’ve known PR people who are excellent at handling one project at a time so that an agency isn’t for them but they might do well at a slower paced company or non profit. Then there’s the famously horrible boss who gets along with few. HR knows about the situation but the person is protected–a relative of the owner perhaps? You’re right in that the quote needs fleshing out but may have been cut to fit the allotted space in the article.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Much depends upon the abilities of who does the firing. It also depends upon the reasons for termination. There are about as many firing stories as there are people, which amounts to no quick answers.

    Common decency would require an employer to assist in finding other employment, assuming bad behavior, incompetence and laziness are not involved. Unfortunately such entities are in short supply, thus the crowding of unemployment offices.

    This is not a job I would apply for, but there are those who enjoy giving the axe. One such person was in turn fired for having way too much fun at this practice. I sometimes wonder where he landed after that — out of state, perhaps?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Like you, I would not want the job to fire people and the man or woman who relished the task would be considered unusual by most. Wonder if after losing the job this person mellowed? Here’s hoping.

    Lots of companies get the fired off their consciences by sending them to outplacement services that they pay for. I’ve known people who have taken advantage of these opportunities but can’t put my finger on whether any have captured their next job as a result. The services offer experts at resume writing; coaches who counsel about how best to interview; write cover notes; fill out online job applications and how to dress, if that’s an issue, and so forth.

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    There is no pleasant way to fire anyone unless perhaps you know they are miserable and don’t have the courage to give a resignation.

    Firing people on Friday before or after lunch, the current President’s specialty, is dreadful and in humane.

    Taking responsibility for exercising poor judgment in hiring the individual doesn’t really help either party. Downsizing sounds more attractive although the reality is the same financially.

    Outsourcing assistance, extended insurance benefits and availability of a vague letter that testifies, if it is the case, to the person’s character help.

    The safety or security concerns that now permeate our lives make any kind of firing very difficult. There is a spoken or unspoken fear of reprimanding or even dismissing, or out right firing someone who may or may not have a violent or even demented reaction. This poses multiple problems for all of us in our daily lives and more so in Human Resource decisions.

    The prevailing social atmosphere in our country constantly augments rage which manifests itself in heretofore unimaginable ways.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Publisher Si Newhouse wouldn’t fire high profile editors directly. Legend had it that they could be on vacation when they’d get a call from the press asking about the situation and that often was the first they’d heard.

    I knew of one downsizing when the division of a large corporation was going out of business where those with fancy salaries and contracts had to fight in court to get a cent of severance but the severance of a friend who had no contract and whose salary, while generous, was modest by comparison, was voluntarily extended until he got another job.

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