Checklist for meetings concerning the termination of employment
Mental preparation for termination of employment meetings
As a manager, before entering a termination of employment meeting, it is helpful if you are mentally prepared. Try to put yourself in your employee’s shoes and think in advance about their situation with family and colleagues. Questions that frequently arise from those who are having their employment terminated may include:
- What is going to happen to me financially?
- Who will stand up for me now?
- What is going to happen in the immediate future?
It is important that you take responsibility for your employee, but there is no reason for you to feel guilty for the way things have turned out. Do not make excuses and do not blame others during the conversation.
Practical preparation for termination of employment meetings
Plan where, when and how you will conduct the meeting.
Make sure you can conduct the meeting in an undisturbed environment. If possible, book a neutral meeting room. In order to best deal with what happens in the meeting, you and the employee should be in the same room. You should therefore avoid conducting the termination meeting digitally.
If you nonetheless have to conduct the termination meeting remotely, it may be particularly important to schedule a follow-up meeting relatively soon after the termination meeting so that you can find out how the employee has handled the discussion.
The cardinal rule is not to deliver this kind of message late in the afternoon, nor the day before a weekend, and especially not the day before a long weekend or holiday. Also, make sure that you set aside enough time for the meeting so that you can answer any questions that may arise.
Try to find out as much as you can about the person whose employment you are about to terminate. What is the situation as regards the employee’s family and other social relations? Is there anyone else they will be able to discuss their thoughts and concerns with outside of work? What about their personal finances?
Also think about the practical arrangements for the notice period. Will you be able to offer a work exemption? How should work tasks be transferred to others? What help and support is available, for example through a Trygghetsråd or Trygghetsstiftelse? Can the employee take time off to look for other jobs during the notice period? It is also a good idea for you to have already thought about what will happen on the employee’s last day and how others will be informed about their colleague’s departure.
Conducting termination of employment meetings
You can divide the discussion into four parts.
1. The termination of employment itself
Get to the topic you are about to address quite quickly. For example, you could start by asking ‘Do you understand why I have asked you to come to this meeting?’. Obviously, whether the employee knows that the termination of employment is coming or whether it is more unexpected will make an enormous difference. Whatever your situation, it is important to give a clear message that cannot be misinterpreted. If the employee does not know what is going on, start by giving them some background. Be factual and honest, and lay out all the facts.
Written notice of termination of employment
During the meeting, you should hand over a written notice of termination of employment that contains information on how the employee can proceed if they wish to challenge the termination or have it legally reviewed. If the reason for the termination of employment is shortage of work/redundancy, the employee should be informed that they are entitled to re-employment and that they need to declare that that is something they are interested in.
2. Give the employee the opportunity to react
It is difficult to know in advance how the employee will react to the notice of termination of their employment. There may be strong reactions even if it is not really a great surprise. The employee may start to cry or become angry and make accusations against you as a manager. It is important that you stay in your managerial role at all times and remain calm. Be prepared for the fact that what you say may be misinterpreted. Give the employee time to work through their feelings.
3. What will happen next?
At this point, you will be able to make effective use of the preparations you have made in advance. Explain step by step what will happen. Your employee may find it difficult to take in all the information, so, ideally, write it down and hand it to them so that they can look at it afterwards at their leisure. Make sure there is time and space for questions.
The termination meeting is the first of many conversations you will need to have with your employee. Have the next discussion as early as within a few days, particularly to make sure that the information you gave the person has been understood. You can ask questions like, ‘What have you been thinking about since we last spoke?’ and ‘How do you feel today?’.