Laying off an employee is something that no one wants to do, but unfortunately, it’s part of the job for many HR professionals. It is a sensitive and emotional situation for all parties involved, and it’s vital that you take the proper steps and do things the right way to lessen the blow and make the best of a poor situation.

“Dismissing an employee is one of the most unpleasant tasks of management. It’s likely to evoke a lot of mixed feelings: sympathy, sadness, and anxiety. Even if letting go of the employee (or employees) is in the best interest of the company, you still may feel guilty,” says Rebecca Knight on Harvard Business Review.


As we are sure you are well aware, there is a right and a wrong way to handle layoffs and having to fire employees. Here are the steps to take when laying off an employee:

1. Get professional training:

Before you are faced with the difficult task of having to lay off an employee, it’s important to have the skills and knowledge to do it the right way. Having an efficient and standardized process for layoffs is essential. It is also a good idea to practice what you plan to say, and think about how the employee may react to the news.

2. Be prepared:

Expect the employee to ask questions. They will want to know things like why they are being laid off, when they will receive their last paycheck, their last day, severance pay (if applicable), when their health insurance runs out and other related information.

3. Inform employees individually:

The last thing an employee wants is to be let go as part of a group. It’s impersonal and could make things worse. Always have a confidential meeting to tell them the news.

4. Be direct:

Be direct, honest, and get to the point. This is not a time for small talk. Say what you need to say, and then allow the employee some time to take in the news and answer any questions they may have.

5. Address your other employees:

A layoff will also have an impact on your other employees. Make sure to address the situation, be honest about the current situation with the company, share the pain of the layoff with your team and give them the opportunity to ask questions to boost morale and move on.

“Layoffs are painful and stressful for everyone, employers and employees alike. If your company has decided that layoffs are necessary, you can make the best of a bad situation by taking steps to conduct the layoffs respectfully, address your company’s concerns about security when workers leave, and boost the morale of the remaining workers,” says Lisa Guerin on Nolo.com.

Bruce Powell

Bruce Powell