Terminating: Plan for it! (Part 3 of a 3 Part series)

The first part in this series brings attention to three key elements of the Termination Event, while the second part brings attention to the need to give thoughtful consideration to three preparatory elements. And, I’m taking the opportunity to again reiterate that as an HR Professional (or if you have responsibility for HR issues), it is increasingly critical for you to be the voice of reason—to be the organizations conscience—to ensure every aspect of the termination process is clearly and critically planned for.

As the economy continues to evolve, part and parcel to an HR Professionals portfolio is to be proactively keeping abreast of influencing factors in both the internal and external environments to your organization.  One way to achieve this is to be aware of and consider alternative options that your organization can exercise – particularly when the focus is to reduce operational expenses.  Rather than immediately jumping to layoffs and/or terminations as the solution, consider the possibility of these practices in response to budget pressures and/or market uncertainties.


This occurs when the organization makes a conscious decision to allow vacant positions to remain vacant.  The beauty of this approach is that it typically happens quite naturally.  When an individual resigns or retires ask yourself – do we need to replace this individual?  Can the work be performed differently?  For example, a role with an annual salary of $40K could yield monthly savings of $4166, when you factor in the mandatory and optional benefit costs.

Early Retirement Incentive

With mandatory retirement off the table, at least in Ontario, gone are the days that you can plan on individuals exiting the workforce after celebrating their 65th birthday.  However, this doesn’t prevent you from creating enticing programs for your wiser, more seasoned staff to embrace.  For instance, a plan that incorporates ways in which an employee can downshift from a senior management role to an individual contributor role could offer significant savings for the organization.  And give the employee new found personal time!

Hiring Freeze

While it might have made sense to add 3 new fundraisers in the design of your operational plan, circumstances of the day might warrant a new perspective.  When the landscape has shifted, your hiring plans may need to be halted in light of the new realities your organization is faced with.

Job Sharing

The opportunity for a working mother to share the load with perhaps another working mother might well be welcomed with open arms.  Certainly this option takes some careful planning, however, a shared job between two individuals can be a successful solution – for both parties.  I can recollect on a number of occasions in my time as a Director, HR, when this solution would have retained valued talent while still meeting the needs of the organization.

Reduced Work Week

From time to time, your organization may experience peaks and valleys of services required or product demanded.  And when you experience those peaks and valleys, reducing hours worked per week allows you to retain the experienced talent you have invested in while keeping the individual employed.  Additionally, and in certain instances, the employee may qualify for supplemental income through Employment Insurance. 


This option will be most attractive to organizations (federated or otherwise) with the capacity to relocate employees across varying geographical lines – whether it be lines that are provincial, national or international.  Your HRIS will be an invaluable resource to help you source, identify and offer up short term assignments to those employees who have an interest and can be available to relocate and, whose knowledge and experience can continue to support the mandate with an organizational member of the family!

The common thread through each part of this series has been a simple one.  Planning.  It’s key to ensuring the decision to terminate takes into account the needs of the affected individual, that your decision is grounded in rational organizational objectives and that you’ve given thoughtful consideration to other possible options. 

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  Have you planned for a termination lately?

Leave a Reply