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Walking the Thin Line: The Delicate Balance of Job Endings

Every professional journey is punctuated with its unique set of experiences, from thrilling promotions to challenging projects. But one chapter that often gets glossed over and yet holds immense significance is the end of a job. Whether an employee departs on their own terms or faces termination, job endings are always a delicate matter that needs to be handled with tact, empathy, and fairness. The process can evoke a spectrum of emotions from both sides of the table, making the balance even more critical.

Understanding the Emotional Quotient

While contracts, policies, and legalities form the backbone of any job termination, it’s the human element that complicates matters. For an employee, the end of a job can signify the loss of financial stability, daily routine, and even a part of their identity. For employers, it might mean severing ties with someone they’ve worked closely with or making a tough call for the greater good of the organization. In such intricate scenarios, even a slight mishandling can lead someone to consult an unfair dismissal lawyer.

The Employee’s Perspective: A Maelstrom of Emotions

Let’s dive into what an employee might feel during this transitional period:

  • Shock and Denial: Even if they saw it coming, the finality of job termination can be a shock. This often leads to denial, hoping it’s just a misunderstanding or a temporary setback.
  • Anger and Bargaining: Feelings of injustice or betrayal can quickly follow, especially if they believe the termination was unjustified. Some might try to negotiate their way back, either by offering to take a pay cut or by making other concessions.
  • Depression: The weight of reality can lead to sadness, a sense of loss, or even clinical depression in some cases.
  • Acceptance: With time and perspective, many come to terms with the situation, seeing it as an opportunity for new beginnings.

The Employer’s Standpoint: Difficult Decisions and Their Aftermath

On the flip side, responsible employers often grapple with:


  • The Guilt of Termination: Letting someone go, especially in smaller organizations where employees are like family, can be heart-wrenching.
  • Fear of Repercussions: There’s always the worry about how such decisions might affect team morale company reputation, or even lead to potential legal issues.
  • Economic Considerations: Sometimes, terminations arise from economic downturns, making them unavoidable. These are often the hardest because they’re not performance-related, making the decision even more emotionally charged.

Navigating the Transition Gracefully

The delicate balance of job endings hinges on the approach. Here’s how both parties can walk this thin line:

  • Open Communication: Whether you’re an employer or an employee, honest communication is vital. Understanding the reasons, sharing feelings, and asking questions can clear the air, reducing the potential for misunderstandings.
  • Seek External Support: Losing a job can be a traumatic experience. Seeking counseling or professional guidance can help in processing feelings and planning the next steps. Employers can consider offering outplacement support or counseling services as a part of the severance package.


  • Know Your Rights and Responsibilities: While employees should be aware of their rights, employers must ensure they adhere to legal and ethical responsibilities. Termination processes should be transparent, fair, and devoid of any biases.
  • Focus on the Future: Dwelling on the past can be counterproductive. While it’s essential to understand what led to the job ending, it’s equally crucial to look ahead. Employees should see this as an opportunity for growth, and employers should focus on lessons learned to avoid similar situations in the future.

Job endings, while challenging, are an integral part of the professional journey. How we handle these endings, the grace with which we let go, and the resilience with which we bounce back define our professional ethos. The delicate balance lies in recognizing the emotional undertones, respecting the human element, and ensuring fairness at every step. When walked with empathy and understanding, this thin line can lead to broader horizons and fresh starts.

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