The best day to fire someone

right day to fire someone

Is there a right day to fire someone?

Not really. No one likes being let go – and most of us equally dislike the act of telling an employee that they no longer have a job. It’s difficult no matter what.

As a general guideline, logic suggests that the best day to fire a staff member is the day that the final decision has been made. It’s simply more forthright than letting them think their job is safe when all the while you know the axe is coming shortly. “Managers rarely regret acting too quickly on a termination, but they have regretted waiting too long,” says management consultant Dick Grote in a Harvard Business Review article on firing.

However, in terms of what day of the week is the kindest (or most efficient) day to let someone go, experts have widely differing opinions. We tapped into a range of hirers, employers, and HR experts to see what they think is the right day to fire someone. Here’s what they said:

Monday makes for easy transitions

In a Business Insider article on the right way to fire someone, Dr. Carl Greenberg of Pragmatic HR Consulting says: “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.”

Tuesday aligns employee needs with HR scheduling

According to a SRM article on humane terminations, Tuesday is increasingly the preferred day to let an employee go. It’s the right day to fire someone because it gives HR team the day before to get all the paperwork in place, but still allows the employee plenty of time to transition. “That way, if the discharged worker has any questions about the termination, such as questions about COBRA, someone is in the office the next few days to answer.”

Wednesday ensures the employee gets support

In a newsletter article on terminating employees, Braun Consulting suggests: “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.”

Thursday allows time for dialog

In his research on layoffs in large US firms, Kevin F. Hallock quotes a COO in the tech industry on the right day to fire someone: “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.”

Friday is easiest on the company

Historically, companies did terminations on Friday because it makes sense for payroll and accounting. The idea was to present the employee with their final paycheck, and send them on their way. Even though most employees are now paid by direct deposit, this day is still a popular – but contentious – one. “Fridays make the departure less dramatic but could leave the employee stewing over the weekend,” writes the Wall Street Journal in an article on best firing practices.

Hallock’s research found that Friday is still a popular day among managers because it helps to control the press – particularly during mass layoffs:

“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.”

Another reason for a Friday firing is safety. “The argument for doing it on Friday is that the person will have the whole weekend to process the news; this is actually thought to reduce the risk of workplace violence (such as an incident where the person angrily returns the following day),” says Ask A Manager.

It seems that while there are ample reasons for any day, there’s still no right day to fire someone. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in this position too often, whichever day you choose.

See also:
What to do when an employee is stealing
What to do if your staff is overdoing it on the sick days
What to do when an employee dies


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