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How to Fire Someone Without Ruining Your Employer Brand The employee you fired isn't going to love you but not hating you on social media is the next best thing.

By Heather R. Huhman Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Reddit's CEO, Ellen Pao, finally apologized -- and subsequently stepped down -- for firing the beloved mediator of the r/IAmA/ (Ask Me Anything) section, Victoria Taylor.

In her apology, Pao acknowledged a long history of mistakes the company has made, including not responding to feedback, not keeping promises and not communicating well in general. She noted her actions have caused the community to lose trust in her and Reddit administrators. She's aware Reddit is at risk from an impending employer brand PR crisis.

Related: Why Reddit Needs to Replace Ellen Pao as CEO

Terminating employees risks an unhappy former staffer sharing his or her negative experience with the world. That can damage a company's employer brand. A study conducted by CareerArc measuring responses of 1,300 job seekers and 218 HR professionals found that 38 percent of terminated or laid off employees share negative reviews of the employer online.

Not only that, but 54 percent of those surveyed who have been fired at least once in their career said the layoff or termination negatively influenced their perception of the employer. If employers don't want to risk muddying their company's brand image among new talent, they should get ready for some damage control.

Here is how to maintain an employer brand, despite any negative reviews from past employees:

1. Provide career transition assistance.

Of those surveyed by CareerArc who reported having once been fired, short-term unemployed workers were about 11 percent less likely than long-term unemployed workers to share negative opinions of the employer who let them go online or with an acquaintance. The longer it takes a former employee to find a job, the angrier they will be with the company that fired them.

Provide career transition assistance for those who have to be terminated. Consider providing vouchers for career coaching services or a full-fee waiver to attend a professional workshop. Additionally, recommend where employees can go for resume and portfolio building services.

2. Leverage love from happy employees.

Reviews from personal experience carry a lot of weight. In fact, 83 percent of people say personal stories are what makes a review or recommendation influential, according to a survey of 24,000 social media-connected consumers conducted by Social Media Link in October and November 2014.

Ask and incentivize current, satisfied employees to share their experience working at the company online. Encourage them to review and rate the company on Glassdoor, CareerBliss, and company social media pages. Track reviews and respond to any negative comments aiming to resolve issues with upset previous employees.

Related: 3 Reasons to Think Again Before Bashing Your Company on Glassdoor

3. Use video to deliver employer brand messages.

Online videos drive deeper engagement than text, according to a 2013 study conducted by Userv. Results showed consumers are more likely to share (39 percent versus 26 percent) and "like" (56 percent versus 40 percent) an online video than a text article. It looks like text "about us" pages won't cut it anymore when it comes to getting the message out there.

Create engaging videos to show off the employer brand with positive or humorous messages. Start a YouTube channel or Vine to shine a light on the company culture, employee personalities and random happenings that make the company a great place to work.

4. Host campus info sessions.

Thirty-seven percent of employers use campus info sessions as a way to engage with potential candidates, according to data from the 2014 North American Candidate Experience Awards based on 95,000 candidate responses.

Partner with local colleges to host company information sessions where employees speak to graduating seniors about what it's like to work at the company. This will inspire a positive employer brand image for the company among the next generation of job seekers.

5. Learn what candidates think.

When it comes to candidate perception, what employers don't know will hurt them. Learning what candidates experience in their initial interactions with the company will provide the insight needed to make adjustments. Employers can use the thoughts of job seekers as a guide to improve the overall candidate experience and brand perception.

An easy way to get the inside perspective is by using an app, like Candyrate for example, to learn what kind of experience candidates have when applying and interviewing. Then, make changes based on feedback -- and tell everyone.

Related: Five Problem Employees and What You Can Do About Them

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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