Take That Cupid!

Breaking up is hard to do, especially for the employee-employer relationship, but there are ways to ease the pain and prevent brand damage.

This week I was getting all geared up to write a Valentine’s Day-themed HCM blog and then something happened – I got assigned to jury duty. While I don’t mind doing my civic duty, let’s face it, all of us lead busy lives and being forced to reschedule a week of important meetings can make anyone crabby. The immediate impact of that crabbiness is that I don’t feel like writing about love and happiness, so I’m going to write about breakups (employee/employer breakups, to be exact).

Terminating an employee/employer relationship has lots of parallels to terminating a romantic relationship. Every breakup has a dumper and a dumpee, and no one likes to get dumped.

The first step is to recognize that sometimes things just don’t work out. Regardless of who breaks up the relationship, you will both be better off in the long run. It’s a tough thing to go through for both the employer/manager and the employee. So, both sides should handle it gracefully and professionally.


Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because people talk. Most of us work in industries with small circles of colleagues that are one or two degrees of separation from each other. For both ex-employees and ex-employers, it’s important to keep your reputation intact. This not only applies to how well you treat each other during the employment relationship, but also how well you handle the breakup.

A Company’s Employment Brand is Just as Important as Their Product

Your company’s employment brand is similar to its product brand. It’s the accumulation of peoples’ perceptions about the kind of employer you are. Do you treat people with respect? Do you give them the tools and support to achieve their job duties and career objectives? Would they recommend you to their friends?

Hell hath no fury like an employee scorned

In personal relationship breakups, you have to worry about getting blasted on Facebook by your ex. Now, with sites like Glassdoor, corporate breakups have to worry, too. Check out some of these quotes that certainly can’t be helping these companies’ employment brands and reputation.

  • “They don’t like investing in you or in proper training.”
  • “They are constantly getting paychecks wrong even with a biometric wall clock system…all this and then you still have to submit a timesheet in an Excel spreadsheet format via email to several people. It was as if they had started the business yesterday, yet they are a huge global business.”
  • “My first day was what you dread…no training whatsoever- no explanation of my job…half the time I sat twiddling my thumbs.”
  • “This company violates so many HR laws and regulations it’s disturbing.”
  • “having to fill out three separate time-sheets…this type of adminstrivia was particularly bothersome”

So how does this relate to your HCM systems?

Some companies don’t want to invest in better HCM systems because they are expensive, they have other competing priorities, or think that the system they bought 10 years ago is doing enough to get by. But, the quotes above show that there is a real ongoing cost to doing nothing too. Paying people wrong, creating unnecessary hoops for them to jump through, and demonstrating through your inaction that you don’t care about their time and troubles will eventually spoil your employment brand.

What’s a company to do?

Take stock of your end-to-end HCM processes and get feedback from the users.

  • Do their experiences reflect the level of care you claim to have for your employees?
  • Are there pain points and frustrations that, when added up, are giving off a message that you didn’t intend?
  • Use exit interviews to find out why people are leaving and what frustrations they had.
  • Talk to people you just hired about their onboarding process. Did they find it easy?
  • Which systems seem sub-standard to employees compared to their previous employers?

Finally, create an environment that communicates your values to your employees, acknowledges the limitations and frustrations they encounter, and foster an environment for continuous improvement. When you honestly show employees that you care and are at least working to make things better, they are less likely to leave or at least help protect your reputation after they are gone.


After three days of jury selection questions and sequestering, the Prosecuting Attorney decided I was not the one he wanted on his jury…I’ve never been so happy to be dumped!

Rob Leonard
Chief Executive Officer


Rob Leonard is a proven leader in the Human Capital Management industry with over 20 years of success in building teams, driving customer success, aligning technology with business outcomes, and creating strong business and customer partnerships.  Since 2009, Rob has been instrumental in defining Sability’s strategic vision, managing the company’s growth, and delivering customer value through its HCM Strategy, Delivery and Implementation services.  Prior to joining Sability, Rob held senior management positions at Ultimate Software and Workbrain (now Infor) as parts of a long career in the Human Capital Management and Workforce Management industries.  Rob received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.