I was chatting with a friend this week who asked how my business was going. This friend is highly educated, very smart, and generally very knowledgeable about the state of the world. She’s also been an employee of various organizations for the better part of two decades. So imagine my surprise when she asked “wait, so my boss can just fire me for no reason, even if she just doesn’t like me?” And she was truly shocked when I told her yes, so long as the boss’s dislike has nothing to do with a protected category like sex, race, religion, etc. I’m thinking my friend’s reaction was not atypical.
Employers and HR peeps — do yourself a favor and make sure your employees understand what at-will employment means! This is not to say you should go around firing people willy nilly – not at all. But employees should understand basic concepts related to their employment, like at-will. No wonder I hear the “h” word (harassment) used so incorrectly so often (and usually in the context of a workplace investigation where the employer has to pay me to look into the employee’s misuse of a trigger word like harassment or discrimination)!
How do you ensure your employees have the basics down? Training. You’ve got to do harassment training as it is. So make sure to include these threshold definitions.