3 Reasons Your Former Employees Are Bitter (And How to Change That)

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Jul 5, 2016

Let’s face it — bitter former employees are a lose-lose for everyone because they can outright ruin the reputation of a company. In fact, 38% of laid-off or fired employees out of 1,300 job seekers and 218 HR and talent acquisition professionals said they have left negative reviews of their former employers, according to the 2015 Employee Branding Study by CareerArc.

Even more importantly, the study showed that 52% of job seekers visit company websites and social media, including review sites. Therefore, more than half of job seekers are actually seeing these reviews, which can have a negative effect on their decision to apply.

Ultimately, the way employers lay off employees can leave a lasting, negative impression on them. There is a right way to let employees go, and it starts with being aware of what is rubbing former workers the wrong way — to not only make them happier, but to also leave your company with its reputation intact.

Here are three reasons why former employees are bitter and what can be done to sweeten up the separation:

1. They were strung along

There is nothing worse than not knowing where you stand with your job. Research by Behavioral Science & Policy Association found that worrying about losing their job is a huge stressor for employees

There are situations when employees didn’t do anything wrong, but could have done much better if employers had just let them know what they needed to improve. Employees are infuriated when they are blindsided by being terminated when they were not offered any feedback.

If an employer sees an issue with an employee, they should be transparent with them and explain what they need to work on. As a matter of fact, 69% of 2.5 million manager-led teams and 27 million employees worldwide said they were more engaged when their managers helped them set performance goals, according to the 2015 State of the American Manager report by Gallup.

It’s evident that employees are more likely to improve when goals are set for them. However, if employees keep making the same mistakes after being offered help, they will be more understanding when they are let go.

2. Their voices weren’t being heard

Employees who were fired aren’t the only ones who are left bitter — people who quit are, too. If a former employee leaves without being offered the opportunity to explain why, it will leave a sour taste in their mouth and can affect how current and even future employees perceive the company.

Exit interviews aren’t for everyone. An alternative to giving these employees an opportunity to explain what went wrong is offering an exit survey, since more people are willing to share online. In fact, about 70% of over 1,000 U.S. employees said they were more likely to share information with managers through a web-based feedback platform in a Workplace Communication survey by 15Five.

With that said, employers have to do more than let disgruntled former employees vent. They need to listen and actually make changes to show they value feedback and want to improve the company culture by being open to communication.

3. They were left hanging

Being fired is never a welcome experience — it can leave people feeling embarrassed and even lost on where to go next. They can feel betrayed if they were fired with no guidance or warning, especially if they believe they have put a lot of time and effort into the company.

At the end of the day, if the employee being let go showed potential but simply did not produce enough, lend them a helping hand — rather than leaving them stranded — by offering an outplacement service.

Whether a business helps former employees with potential or former workers who lacked effort, providing a service that gives everyone opportunity outside of the company will make an organization look understanding by still wanting their employees to do better (even after they leave the company).

What are other ways employers can leave a good impression on former employees?