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How To Fire Someone Nicely

Terminations are sometimes unavoidable for a variety of reasons, but they shouldn’t be scary. To mitigate any appearance of unfairness, you should follow a process where you document repeat warnings, the causes, and the official process for terminations at your dental, optometry, or medical practice. 

When you carefully document your termination process, it’s less likely that your former employees and their lawyers will pursue claims against you. Your clear process and upfront communication demonstrate that the decision was not taken lightly, but that it was part of an objective HR procedure for your practice. In this article, we’ll discuss why you should fire someone nicely,  

Why Should You Fire Someone Nicely? 

Terminations can reflect poorly on your practice if you’re cavalier and careless with the way you fire your employees, even when you have justified cause. Disgruntled former employees may file claims against you, or they may take their damaging information to social media. You can’t prevent every negative comment, but you can keep the termination as amiable as possible.  

Have a System in Place for Measuring Valid Reasons for Termination  

There are many reasons for firing an employee, and they could range from performance issues to tardiness and inappropriate behavior. As part of your termination process, you should determine which reasons are “valid” for termination. They could include: 

• The employee repeatedly calls in sick.

• The employee is constantly late.

• The employee violated your social media policy. 

• The employee is underperforming.

• The employee’s conduct is unprofessional and/or inappropriate.

For each possible termination, you should partner with HR to assess the situation and determine the best way to approach it from a legal and performance standpoint.


At HR for Health, we offer software features that allow you to document the violations with informal notes all the way up to a formal write-up.


Schedule a consultation to get further insight into how to address your unique circumstances related to termination. We can help you determine whether the termination is risky and how to best approach it in your practice.  

Consider using the following HR for Health features as aids in your termination process and final decision: 

The Essential Guide to Healthcare Performance Reviews

The Essential Guide to Workplace Violation

Approaching the Termination  

How To Fire Someone Nicely

As part of your termination process, you should consider the following suggestions when executing the termination: 

• Keep it high level.

• Conduct the termination behind closed doors to respect the employee’s privacy and their dignity.

• Avoid detailed explanations. 

• If an employee argues with you, attempt to redirect the conversation.

• If things ever escalate to the point where you fear for your safety, keep a phone handy to call for support from law enforcement.

Recommended Reading

Termination vs. Resignation

Give Repeated Warnings  

How To Fire Someone Nicely

As part of your termination process, you should have shared your concern and documented those warnings on multiple occasions. One time is typically not enough unless the infraction involves serious safety and/or legal concerns. In most cases, you should also attempt to address the situation with additional training or remediation steps. 

You should also provide written documentation to the employee, which indicates that their performance is not meeting your expectations and that they are not complying with your practice’s policies and procedures. With our violations feature, you can categorize performance conversations with levels of feedback to indicate informal, oral warning, or formal warning. Schedule a consultation to learn more about how to best articulate your termination policies to your team. 

Schedule an In-Person Meeting 

As part of your termination process, you should be aware of your employee’s dignity and privacy. Schedule an in-person meeting. Avoid firing a person over the phone, via a letter, or via an email.  

Your employee’s direct supervisor should be the person who fires your employee to avoid unnecessary frustration and agitation. You could have an HR representative sit in on the meeting, both as a witness and to answer any questions related to the final paycheck, benefits, etc.

How To Fire Someone Nicely

Create an Official Letter of Termination  

Even though you’ve scheduled an in-person meeting, you should still give your employee an official letter of termination. You can highlight the cause or reason for the termination, and they can use the document when they file for unemployment, if applicable. At HR for Health, we offer a letter of termination as part of our free resource library, so you have access to the termination paperwork you need.  

Do Not Escalate 

As part of the termination process, you should keep the discussion simple and direct. Avoid engaging with your employee, and use de-escalation phrases during tense situations to keep the discussion productive. If things do start to escalate, ensure you clearly communicate the specific behavior that needs to change, and examples include , “Please lower your voice” or “Please refrain from using profanity.” needed to keep the discussion civil.   

Once a Decision Is Made, Don’t Go Back on It 

As part of the termination process, you will come to a decision about the future of your employee. After consulting with HR and considering all your options, you may determine that termination is the only viable option. You’ve already documented your warnings, and you’ve worked to encourage your employee to change their behavior without success. Once the decision is made, you should not change your mind. Schedule a consultation to learn about what to consider as part of your termination process.  

How HR for Health Can Help 

Our software helps you with your termination process with our state-specific termination checklist, containing all the required forms based on where you do business. We want to make sure that you understand and can articulate the final paycheck requirements for paying departing employees on time and in compliance with state and local regulations. 

We not only have you covered with cloud-based HR software — our HR Specialist Team is standing by to discuss termination situations.

Schedule an HR Consultation