By Val Matta
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (TheStreet) -- If you've ever faced the tough job of letting someone go, you know it's not the easiest mountain to climb. The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate there were 4.5 million total separations for the month of January -- which includes quits, layoffs, discharges and other separations. No matter your situation, there's no way you won't be seen as the the bad guy. But life happens; sometimes you have to play the villain to keep your business afloat.
Here's a little secret for you, though: Your employee's disdain for you has nothing to do with being fired or laid off. It has to do with what happens next.
While letting an employee go is like a tightrope walk, the effects of a termination can be more detrimental than the dismissal itself -- and a lot of it has to do with cutting off communication after the pink slip is given. Here's why:
If you have to let an employee go, keeping them in the dark about the dismissal is pretty shady. Your former workers have a right to know whether the termination was their fault. Failing to give details about a firing puts you in a bad light and can cause a real strain.
Solve this: Exit interviews are a great way way to speak to your displaced employee about termination specifics. While they are conducted traditionally to find out what people think about your company, they can also be used as a way to state your case.
No leeway time
There are certainly cases when you'll have to let employees go without a moment's notice. But if you happen to know about a termination, it's your job to let the worker know as soon as possible.
Reports indicate the average duration of unemployment is about 35 weeks. If you were in their shoes, you'd want to start the job hunt as soon as possible. Failing to give displaced workers at least a little leeway time is a disservice and makes you look like you only have your agenda in mind.
Solve this: Whether you know months, weeks, or days in advance, let your workers know about a layoff as soon as possible. In addition, keep them in the know about transfer options or open positions so they can quickly move to a new opportunity.
No outplacement services
While it's not a requirement, you might want to help former workers move on to new opportunities. This is where outplacement services come in. If you don't offer outplacement tools, you may come off as unappreciative or unwilling to aid workers who've done so much for you in the past.
Solve this: Pick an outplacement service with tools workers will actually use. This is particularly important since 40% of displaced workers don't actually take advantage of outplacement services, even though they are highly effective.
How you behave after a termination is an important aspect of the dismissal process. Displaced workers can be incredibly bitter and may go to great lengths to give you a bad name. Save yourself the brand disaster and move through the process with open communication, ensuring a smooth transition for everyone.
What do you think? What are some other things to do after firing an employee?
Val Matta is vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job-seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.