The best day to fire someone

Human Resources Management Small Business Road sign featuring the days of the week

Is there a good day to fire someone?

Not really. No one likes being let go – and most of us almost equally dislike the act of telling an employee that they no longer have a job. It’s hard. The best day to fire a staff member is probably the day that the final decision has been made for sure. That is more forthright than keeping them on under the illusion that their job is safe when all the while you know the axe is coming shortly.

Experts debate which day of the week might be the kindest or most efficient to give someone the pink slip. Some say Monday is the way to go – while others vehemently support Friday. Many say neither is ideal.

Braun Consulting, for example, says, “Mid-week terminations will allow the employee to reach out for legal or other advice they may need to help them cope during the week. It will not leave them in a situation where they are facing a weekend of going over things in their mind without being able to seek help.”

Others do their dirty work on Friday, “because it was convenient for payroll and accounting. The employee was a secondary thought, but it was the goal to present the employee with his or her final paycheck at the termination meeting.”

These days many people are paid by direct deposit, anyway, so that’s a moot point. Friday seems potentially cruel. It leaves the person unable to jump right into the job search, and therefore feeling helpless and frustrated.

Dr. Carl Greenberg of Pragmatic HR Consulting tells Business Insider, “Monday morning is best. You want to quickly transition the person from working for you to the process of looking for another job, which is usually done during the week.”

The reality is, though, that companies have more to consider than the employee being cut, particularly with mass layoffs – which are not doable in one day.

Kevin F. Hallock writes in his research paper, A Descriptive Analysis of Layoffs in Large U.S. Firms Using Archival Data over Three Decades and Interviews with Senior Managers. “Several managers mentioned that the firms serve three constituencies; shareholders, customers, and employees (not necessarily in that order).” Friday was a popular day among the managers in Hallock’s paper.

For one thing, there’s the press to worry about: “Several of the managers I met in one company … liked to have the layoffs on Fridays. In fact, they would time it just so that the news would not appear in the local papers until Saturday – because of the feeling that readership was down considerably on the weekend.”

Other concerns? One senior manager in agriculture cited “safety:” “If you are laying one person off and you are afraid of safety you might do it at the end [of the week]. If it is a mass layoff – middle– need to prepare in the middle and deal with the aftermath.”

A high tech COO says, “Never do it on a Monday. Always on a Thursday and people have time to chill out on Friday and we can message about it.”

And a senior manager in financial services says,” We always try to announce sort of the middle of the week or maybe later. We like to have some control of what is happening. We don’t want them to go home and make up stories.”

When considering only the employee being let go, though, Monday is likely the kindest option, for the reasons mentioned above.

Hopefully you won’t find yourself in this position too often, whichever day you choose.