HR Management & Compliance

The Benefits of Transparent Separation

In a previous post, we reviewed a new approach to the process of terminating employees as discussed in an article for Harvard Business Review by David Siegel, who says he’s led three businesses, managed thousands of employees, and overseen hundreds of terminations.


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Instead of the traditional approach of “be direct, keep it short, walk the employee out the door, shut down access to e-mail, and so on,” Siegel says he now tries to practice “transparent separation.”
As Siegel explains it, “you don’t blindside an underperforming employee or fire him outright. Instead, you encourage him to leave on his own by letting him know he is going to be let go in time and needs to start looking for a new job ASAP.” Siegel says he has taken this approach with many employees, and they inevitably thank him for it.
The prior post discussed how the process works. Here, we’ll look at the benefits of transparent separation when compared to traditional terminations.

How Departing Employees Benefit

“Simply put,” says Siegel, “it is far easier to find a job if you’re already employed. Unemployed candidates are unfortunate victims of a natural bias during the hiring process.” Employees also benefit from the ability to apply their skills and talent in roles to which they are better suited.
Consider this: It’s unlikely that an employee underperforming in a particular job enjoys underperforming. Being able to contribute positively and productively can make a big difference.

How Managers and the Company Benefit

Siegel notes five benefits to companies and managers from the transparent separation strategy:

  • Improved relationships between employers and the employees they have let go
  • Enhanced reputation for managers
  • Smoother transitions for managers to find replacements
  • Reduced legal risks from litigation following contentious terminations
  • New customers and clients based on a positive relationship between departing employee and employer

Terminations are not enjoyable for anyone involved. While employers have attempted to minimize the unpleasantness through a quick, direct approach, perhaps an approach like transparent separation can minimize the negative impacts for both employee and employer.
It’s a win-win for all involved.