To End the ‘Bond of Service’

In the online course for the Diploma Human Resources Management with Open Training Institute I come across a term that is common in HR but that makes me feel uncomfortable each time I read it. My mother tongue is Dutch. My personal language, as well as my professional language in life coaching, is humane and focused on reaching an improved situation for those I speak with. I’m only just beginning to get used to corporate HR language. But this term still bothers me.

Terminating an employee

I understand what it means. I get that it’s industrial wording for ending a contract – bringing an end to a co-operation between two parties. But no matter how I rationally understand the terminology, there’s an energy about it that gives me a chill.

If the employee is a valuable asset, and if the relationship between employer and employee is to be respected, then why not come up with other wording? Are we terminating the employee, or are we terminating the contract, the co-operation?

Employees are people. Free people. Respectful people, with all sorts of backgrounds, upbringing, experiences, education, skills and talents. Although many people might still feel that work is slavery, in our civilised democracy every person is free – with equal rights and responsibilities. We expect employees to perform at their best for us to achieve our organisation’s business objectives. We expect their commitment. Surely we can’t ‘terminate an employee’ in this modern time?

If the employee isn’t happy with the employer, and decides to move on, do they use the same wording, ‘terminating an employer’?

In Dutch we say: ‘het dienstverband beeindigen’, which translates to: ‘to end the bond of service‘.

Can you feel the difference? We don’t end the person. We end that which is between two parties, and we call it service. We respect the employee by calling that what they offer to the employer a service.

Could we invent something like this in English? Can I end the bond of service with an employee instead of terminating them? At least can we call it ‘terminating employment’?

Your response will be much appreciated!

With kindness and respect,

Miriam Aziz

PS: After some research I understand that in most places the words ‘terminating the contract’ or ‘terminating employment’ are being used. Perhaps ‘terminating an employee’ is used in the course material offered by Open Training Institute more than in the ‘real’ world? What is your experience?

Miriam Aziz is Founder and Life Coach at Fulfil Your Life, and Author of The Master’s Compass. Miriam studies HRM since June 2015. She intends to develop Employee Assistance Programs in addition to her Master’s Compass Program.

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