Many tech companies, established and startup alike, tout the benefits of their company culture: free food, games and social activities right in the middle of generous work spaces. But inevitably, people get fired. Although most companies aren’t forthcoming about how and why that firing takes place, those on the receiving end of terminations have provided uncomfortable details of what happens to long-term employees and newbies alike.

The Improvement Plan

Some large companies will put an employee on an improvement plan that consists of specific targets that must be achieved over the following month or so. Some former employees report meeting the expectations but still receiving the metaphoric “pink slip” a couple of weeks later. The employee is called into a meeting with their direct boss and either a human resources representative or another member of management. They’re told they haven’t actually meet the conditions of the improvement plan, is escorted to their desk, packs up their things and leaves the same day.

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The Invalid Login

Some employees show up for work, usually on a Friday, and either their keycard doesn’t work or, even if they are able to get into the building and sit at their desk, they find their login is invalid. When they investigate, they are either told by security that they have been terminated or the invalid login query leads to an immediate meeting with the employee’s manager, their manager’s boss or a member of the HR team. The employee is told they’re immediately fired. In some cases, the employee will learn why they’re been fired, but some firing managers report that, for legal reasons, they aren’t allowed to say much.

The Escort to the Desk

Whether it’s through a blocked computer login or a sudden meeting called out of the blue — some employees get an email or other message requesting they have a chat — after the employee is fired they normally have to leave the premises soon afterwards. Most receive an escort to their workstation, where they may find a box to pack their personal belongings. Employees report not being allowed to say goodbye to co-workers or provide any explanation as to what’s happened. In an article for The New York Times, former tech employee Dan Lyons wrote that companies treated a firing like “graduation” for the ousted individual, who was expected to go on to bigger and better things.

The Severance Package

Most employees receive some compensation, such as health coverage and several months’ salary, upon termination. In the case of a large-scale reduction, some workers may also receive job search assistance and other types of counseling.

Of course, with all of these common threads, there are exceptions. In the case of violence in the workplace, for example, the perpetrator might be immediately escorted from the premises and not allowed to return. One person, Derrick Williams, reported getting a phone call in his hotel room after a work party celebrating a successful project conclusion. Since he was deaf, he had to ask the desk clerk to help him with the phone call because his manager insisted on using the telephone instead of instant messaging. The hotel employee told him his manager said he was fired and that he needed to personally acknowledge over the phone that he understood. He later learned he was part of a large layoff of employees.

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No matter how it happens, it tends to be brutal and to come with little warning. Employees who have been fired can take comfort that they are not alone, and even if they don’t see the process as “graduation,” they may look forward to something new around the corner.
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Isabelle Daigle
Isabelle Daigle

Isabelle Daigle runs all content marketing for Hello Focus. She's an avid writer and loves long Netflix binge sessions!