Is There a Best Time to Fire an Employee?

Let’s face it: there really isn’t a “good” time to fire someone.

But sometimes it just has to be done.


In extreme cases (such as inappropriate behavior, theft, property damage, or even violence) you should take immediate action.

The rest of the time, you probably have more flexibility.


You want to respect the departing employee, maintain their dignity and privacy, make the experience less negative or psychologically damaging. Is there a certain day or time that might be best?


From chump to champ

People generally tend to think of themselves as constantly improving.

In this context, the past “me” is distinct from the present or future “me.”


We are much better at accepting our previous failures, faults, or shortcomings when we are also thinking about the future. The past is the past.

Ideally, the departing employee can view their departure as a new beginning, rather than just a bad ending.


The Fresh Start Effect

New research has found that certain times serve as landmarks.

These are the times that mark a new beginning.

Mondays, the 1st of the month, the day after a holiday.


This is when people are especially likely to set goals, plan ahead, and think about the future.

Not only are these the times when people usually prefer to start a new goal when given a choice, it’s also when they are more likely to act on it. For example, this is when people are most likely to google “diet” and also when they are most likely to actually go to the gym.


If you have to fire an employee, these landmarks are probably the best time. After all, this is when we are best able to separate the past from the future.



Image credit: Ann Hung

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