In August, we reviewed some strategies for trying to retain an employee who you don’t want to leave. This month we review some things you can do to get an employee to leave if you don’t want to terminate them directly. Sometimes firm owners don’t terminate under-performing team members when they need to because of the human nature to avoid conflict, hassles of HR process and red tape, and afraid of potential legal action/discrimination accusations that may be taken. In addition to these, it can be complicated financially for a firm if an employee is directly terminated versus resigning. Assuming you have done everything you can to try and remedy the underperforming team member, here are some common tactics that bosses from other industries use to get their employee to leave on their own (which we do not necessarily recommend) that ended up costing them an unemployment claim anyways:
- Begin micromanaging especially if that isn’t your management style
- Be careful in this approach though as the employee could perceive it as harassment which could cause negative repercussions during the unemployment claims process, if an unemployment claim is filed.
- Move up timeframes and set unrealistic deadlines
- This must be done is a manner that is not easily noticed. If too much pressure is applied too quickly, the employee could become overwhelmed or overly stressed in which neither case will result in a positive outcome for you.
- Have them train their replacements
- This get tricky. If the employee is under too much pressure or has an idea that you are preparing to terminate them, they could “poison” the new hire with their toxic emotions. Ensure they are feeling confident that the new hire is an addition to the team and not their replacement.”
- Remove incentive compensation opportunities
- If the incentives will significantly reduce their salary and they resign, they might qualify for unemployment insurance as the wage reduction is a qualifying reason to resign.
If you notice anything on this list that you may be doing, you could be inadvertently driving away your team since these are pretty much guaranteed to drive anyone away! However, if these tactics aren’t a match for your style and/or frankly aren’t a fit for your beliefs, you can opt for having a heart to heart with the team member in question which is what we always recommend. In some professions where job opportunities are not as plentiful as they are in financial planning, these might not work due to lack of other employment options, so you might end up having a heart to heart talk anyways. And depending on the determining factors for the dismissal, saying something like this could reduce the potential negative outcomes of the meeting, “Thank you for meeting with me. I wanted to talk to you about your career here. We have decided to terminate the employment relationship between you and ABC Firm Management [ based on personality, performance, culture fit, etc.] effective today. Your separation documents will be sent to your home via certified mail within 30 days. We will be providing a one-month severance to assist with your transition and do wish you the best in finding another organization where your current skillset can add value.”
Realize under either circumstance, you are subject to a potential unemployment insurance claim. It varies by state, but the general rules are: employees who are fired for misbehavior or quit voluntarily are NOT eligible for unemployment insurance compensation. There are many gray areas to successfully win an unemployment insurance claim. You can increase your chances of winning more unemployment insurance claims by completing the separation paperwork on time and by inserting the same HR jargon that is used, such as “Gross Misconduct or Voluntary Resignation.” Next, you have to prove that you made reasonable attempts to resolve the employees lack of performance or addressed any concerning issues. Placing employees on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plans) is the most common way to track and prove your efforts. Keep in mind that just because you are unsatisfied with an employee’s performance, the Employment Development Department does not see this as just cause and could potentially grant the employee their unemployment claim. Establishing sound business practices leading to less turnover is ideal, but sometimes inevitable so DO YOUR HOMEWORK! You can find more information on unemployment insurance laws and practices here.
Adrianna Mentis, SHRM-SCP, CPM, on our team contributed to this article.