Though the idea of being fired tends to conjure some sort of wrong doing on the part of an employee, people are fired all the time for a multitude of reasons ranging from downsizing to personal problems. What responsibility do employers have to help someone they let go find a new job? Experts suggest it may be in both of their best interests to help.
“Not every hire is a culture fit. Nor does every hire always land in the right industry. They may be a great person, a fine performer but they're in the wrong line of work,” says Danica Kombol, founder of the Georgia-based influencer marketing agency, Everywhere Agency.
She gives the example of an account manager they hired who had excellent people skills but lacked creative and writing skills to do her job well. “I knew she’d be excellent in HR and introduced her to some senior HR professionals who helped her land a job in a field in which she went on to really excel.”
Kombol believes that “employers are as responsible for our good hires as we are our bad hires. The least we can do is help them find their way to a fulfilling next step in their career.”
Moreover, employers need to keep in mind that being fired can be negatively life altering for an employee, says Simon Royston, Managing Director of the UK-based recruiting agency, The Recruitment Lab.
“I often think that employers forget how traumatic it can be for an employee to be fired. In some circumstances there can be little warning and suddenly the means they use to pay the rent and put food on the table is ripped away from them. It is of course a fact of life that people are fired for a whole host of reasons, but, I do not see why it cannot be done with dignity…”
He points out the necessity of having the firing conversation in a kind and humane manner, as well.
“In these situations, I feel the employer has to be the bigger person and be prepared to help within reason. Just some gentle words of encouragement to try and restore some confidence and self-belief can be enough. Maybe a recommendation to start liaising with a recruitment consultant.”
Kombol points out that if a manager has done their job correctly, the firing conversation will not come out of the blue, either. “If you’ve made the wrong hire, you’ve had multiple conversations about how they are not fulfilling their job duties. Leadership and managing is like mentoring. Being a leader means discussing an employees’ strengths and weaknesses. If they don’t have the right strengths for the job at hand, that’s when you start discussing other fields which might better use their skill sets.”
Andrew Taylor, director of the UK based law firm Net Lawman, likens firing someone to restorative justice after a person gets out of prison. “People should be allowed to learn and move on and up,” he says. “I give all candidates the opportunity to speak for themselves and judge their quality of character on the person who is in front of me, rather than their history.”
Of course, there are always times when a firing doesn’t warrant a referral, such as behavioral problems that would not be welcome in any job, says Ellen Mullarkey, Vice President of Business Development for the Messina Staffing Group. In that case, she recommends severing ties for the benefit of the business.
However, Mullarkey adds, “If they were a strong performer but had behavioral issues at work, then its up to you if you want to write them a letter of recommendation. You owe it to their future employer to be upfront about why they were fired.”
Taylor finds that once the emotions of the situation have settled down, many employees will understand why it wasn’t a good fit, anyway.
“Even though someone hasn’t worked well in my business, that doesn’t mean their skills are not useful elsewhere."