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A Sample Termination Letter for ‘Not a Good Fit’ Employees

February 18, 2019 by Josh Hrala

Using a sample termination letter for ‘not a good fit’ employees can seriously take the stress out of the event. With proper planning and a well-crafted severance package, bad-fit employees can be offboarded easily and without all of the stress that comes with normal, behavior-based terminations.

So how do you write a termination letter for ‘not a good fit’ employees? What do you need to include?

First off, make sure you check out our other articles on ‘bad fit’ employees to fully understand what a bad fit is and how you can manage them. After that, if you still believe that the best course of action is termination, you can use our sample letter to get started. Download that here:

example layoff letter not a good fit

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A Sample Termination Letter for ‘Not a Good Fit’ Employees: Part One

A termination letter for workers who don’t fit into your corporate culture is generally set up the same way as any other termination letter.

There are specific things that you need to cover in the letter, such as how the person will be paid their final check, how their benefits will change, how their vacation time will be doled out, etc.

You need to give the employee a written outline of what comes next. This letter should go hand-in-hand with a termination meeting where you will meet with the individual to discuss the details of the termination and allow the employee to ask questions. Also, and we’ll get to this in a moment, you can extend extra benefits and go over them during the termination meeting.

Back to the letter, first, you need to start with a normal letter opening. This means addressing the person and having an intro line that breaks the news immediately.

This can look like this:

“Dear [NAME],

Based on team performance over the last few [TIME FRAME], your employment with [COMPANY NAME] will terminate at the close of business on [DATE].”

Remember, this is just a sample idea. You can make it more personal in the introduction. If you feel comfortable, you can say something like: “As you recall from our previous meetings, there are conflicts within some teams at our organization.” Or something along those lines.

You should, if possible, state the reason for the termination as simply as possible. This means that you can break it down as much as you want (within reason).

What you need to avoid here is any small talk. This is an official letter. There’s no need to talk about the weather or the game last night. Just get right to the point.

You may even want to just say that there is a poor cultural fit, such as: “Through our previous talks, we have determined that your involvement within the organization isn’t meshing well with our current teams.”

It’s all up to you! Using a sample termination letter for ‘not a good fit’ employees is just a great way to have something already on paper for you to quickly customize when you need it.

As you can tell from our examples, this shouldn’t be the first time an employee has heard about this issue. You should do everything within your power to retain the person by attempting to solve the issue. Termination is generally a last resort measure when things aren’t – and will not – work out.

A Sample Termination Letter for ‘Not a Good Fit’ Employees: Part Two

After you make a simple, to-the-point introduction, you should move on to what the employee needs to know about their pay and benefits.

This section is relatively easy because it doesn’t have to have any sort of extra component to it. If you have a proper RIF strategy, you should fully understand how pay and benefits work when an employee is offboarded.

All you need to do is list them out here in a way that is easy to understand. Remember, you will also be able to go over some of these things in the termination meeting in greater detail.

This section can look something like this:

“After your final day, you are entitled to the following company benefits, according to [COMPANY NAME]’s official policy:

Your salary will continue through [DATE]. You will receive your final paycheck by [MAIL/IN PERSON/ETC]

You’re unused vacation and personal days will be paid out with your final paycheck.

Your health benefits will continue through [DATE]. After the said date, your coverage will continue under COBRA. Details will be sent out to you to start your new coverage.”

This section all depends on what benefits your company offers. You may have more or less than what we have listed in our sample above. Make sure you go over all of the benefits you have and explain them in the simplest way possible.

A Sample Termination Letter for ‘Not a Good Fit’ Employees: Part Three

The third and final section of the letter is by far the easiest. All you need to do is sign off the letter and provide a way for the person to reach out with any questions.

This section can look something like this:

“I will be available to answer any questions you may have at [CONTACT INFO].



Now, like we said above, this letter should be supplementary to your termination meeting, which goes over everything this letter says in greater detail. Also, and we can’t say this enough, none of these letters are one-size-fits-all. You need to customize them to fit your needs and specific situation.

Consider Adding Additional Benefits for ‘Not a Good Fit’ Employees

The one big difference between a termination because of poor behavior or misconduct and termination, because an employee isn’t a good cultural fit for the organization, is that the latter is a lot more like a layoff.

Usually, a firing is viewed as a voluntary termination because the action leading up to them being let go was due to a voluntary action by the employee. A layoff, on the other hand, is an involuntary termination because the employee doesn’t have control over the move.

The same can be said for ‘poor fit’ employees. It’s not entirely their fault that they were brought into a team that they just don’t mesh well with. That’s more of a poor hiring problem than it is the person who got mixed up in it.

For this reason, we recommend that you offer these individuals benefits that you normally wouldn’t offer to someone being ‘fired.’

The best thing to include is a well-rounded and well-crafted severance package that allows you to not only cover your bases legally but also provide the employee with a payment in exchange for their signature, which helps them get through the transition to a new role.

Download Our Guide To Improving Severance Agreements!

Inside your severance package, we also recommend that you provide outplacement services. Outplacement, as a refresher, is a service extended to outbound staff members that helps them get back to work in a new, meaningful role quicker and with less stress.

Download Our Outplacement Buyer's Kit Here!

The best outplacement providers use expert coaches, cutting-edge technology, and great learning platforms to help their participants land a new role. You can learn all about the outplacement process here.

Using a Sample Termination Letter for ‘Not a Good Fit’ Employees: The Wrap-Up

When crafting a termination letter to offboard employees who are not a good fit, you can generally use a normal termination letter that goes over all of the key points of your termination policy.

Make sure you keep the letter short and to the point, underlining the benefits that will be extended to the staff member as well as how they will be paid.

Consider adding more benefits to those being let go because of cultural fit, including a severance agreement and outplacement services.

As with any reduction event, make sure you work closely with your legal team to ensure that you are complying with all local, state, and federal laws.

Using a sample termination letter for ‘not a good fit’ employees can help the process go over more smoothly by having an easily customizable letter on file that is ready when you need it.

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Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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