Small Business Considerations to Unemployment


a recently unemployed worker packs their office supplies into a box

by Bill Swan, Principal Consultant

Business owners and managers aim to build relationships and create opportunities, but every now and again, the unfortunate need to terminate an employee arises. This can be an uncomfortable and sometimes scary situation, but with proactive planning and intervention, it is possible to mitigate a negative outcome. 

An ounce of prevention…. 

Cliche, sure, but in life and work, staying ahead of the curve really is worth “a pound of cure.” Clear communication, proactive intervention, and diligent documentation are absolutely essential in any workplace. Your first goal should be training and course correction. Being able to identify the root cause of trouble with an employee and setting goals for improvement can often remedy the problem, but what if your efforts just don’t work out? 

The only behavior you can control is your own…

Another age-old but wise adage. You’ve taken the time to work with your employee and your HR department. You’ve offered opportunities for improvement and/or behavior correction. You’ve documented every step of the way, but still, it’s just not going to work out. Maybe the employee isn’t a fit for your team; maybe it’s a misfit of talent-to-job description. Whatever the reason, when there’s no option left but to terminate, how you approach it matters to you, to the employee, to your team, to your business, and even to your brand’s reputation. You want to have your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed before you have the conversation. 

What you don’t know CAN hurt you…

A few things to keep in mind should you find yourself in this situation – 

  • Be ready with documentation to contest unemployment compensation. While the short-term cost to your business may be minimal, as your business grows and as circumstances differ from state to state, being in the habit of having documentation and quick response times could help your bottom line
  • Remember that unemployment compensation’s sole purpose is to support an employee who is unexpectedly displaced. If you are managing, coaching, and doing a good job of performance management, no one that is let go should be surprised. This is where consistent, proactive documentation comes into play
  • Resignation and/or taking advantage of the system are not valid claims for unemployment. If you’ve done your due diligence, contest the claim EVERY time

A stitch in time saves nine…

Doing the work now will save you time down the line. Some tried and true methods to minimizing employee loss include tightening your recruitment strategy (attracting the right person), refine your onboarding methods (training for success), focus on integrating your employees and dialing in your workplace culture. A well-blended team adds an extra layer of commitment and support as well as a sense of belonging with the team, clients and partners. This includes having bumper guards in place to reasonably set your employees up for good performance and general success. This not only bolsters your business in-house, but it also helps you create a reputation for being a “place people want to work.” 

Managers don’t set out to hire the wrong people, but sometimes it just happens. Should you find yourself struggling with this, we are here to walk alongside you with no judgement.