All good things must come to an end, and that includes favorite team members leaving our organizations. There are a lot of ways to say goodbye, and in companies it’s important that we give people who have provided so much value to us a proper send-off. A great end to someone’s tenure should include steps that protect both your company’s interest and the interest of the employee leaving.
With a sound employee offboarding process in place, you can provide a safe – and dare we even say it – pleasant final few days for an employee transition out.
What is an exit process?
An exit process, or offboarding, contains vital steps that help an employee transition out of your company either by their choice or yours. According to a recent study by Aberdeen, only 29% of organizations have a formal exit process in place.
What are these 71% of companies who don’t have one missing out on? A lot.
Studies show that if you don’t have a formal exit process, you may have some of the following issues:
- Lack of security and legal issues surrounding what the employee still may have access to after they leave.
- Untrained employees taking over the former team member’s role without an understanding of what is truly expected of them.
- Continued issues that aren’t addressed which caused the initial employee to leave, and could cause other team members to look for work elsewhere too.
Plus, with an exit interview, you’re giving employees a chance to be heard for one last time. If the employee leaving was especially valuable to your organization, this could put you in a good position should they want to return.
In fact, companies that do well in offboarding score high marks when it comes to team members considering returning, or “boomeranging”. Nearly 40% of employees consider returning to an organization that they felt not only heard their feedback but worked to improve based upon it according to the Corporate Culture and Boomerang Employee Study which was commissioned by The Workforce Institute.
Now that we’ve convinced you how important it is to have a great offboarding process, let’s go through the basic steps you’ll need to implement one.
Get it in writing
First, when an employee approaches you about leaving, make sure to not only have the conversation with them in person (or via video chat, because 2020), but also ensure they send a written resignation letter you can keep on file. The letter should include the date they’ll be departing the company.
Make sure to take the letter and upload it into their Kin profile for safe keeping.
Let the team know and provide a plan
Next, ensure everyone knows the individual is leaving. This shouldn’t be left for rumor or watercooler talk. Someone in a leadership role should make a clear announcement that this person will be leaving their position on a date that you and the employee have agreed upon.
The message doesn’t need to be lengthy to the team, but it does need clear language.
It should include: who the person is, the role they currently serve, their last day, and any immediate plans for their transition out of the company. This could include beginning to recruit for the role, having the person stay on to help train the new hire, who will be taking over responsibilities internally if there will not be a new hire, etc.
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The more information you can provide, the more confident your team will be during the transition. Remember, the team is losing a member which may make them feel a bit uncomfortable. Providing clear messaging and a sound gameplan can help ease this and have the team continue forward.
Understand their workload
After you’ve announced the departure of said employee, have them create a list of their day-to-day workload, along with any long-term projects. It may take them a few days to create a completed list, so make sure to give them ample time to get it done well.
Once it’s completed, walk through it with them to really understand their impact on the company. Now is a great time to see if the role they were in was as effective as you believed it was, or if you’d like to change up a few things with the next version of it moving forward. Bringing the employee leaving into this conversation will empower them to help leave a great legacy at the company by creating a role that will help it move forward.
Let them train the new hire/replacement (if you can)
At this point, you’ll likely be coming up on either hiring a new person or finding someone internally to take over responsibilities. If you are lucky enough to have the person who will be assuming the role and the individual leaving on payroll at the same time, take advantage of this!
No one is going to know that position better than the person leaving it. Let them work through training with the new person assuming the role and be there to answer any questions for a week or two at least. It’ll pay off in spades in the long run.
Gather company equipment
On their final day, you’ll want to have a checklist prepared of all of the company equipment they owe you. Beyond the big stuff such as a laptop, cell phone and credit card, there may be other smaller items such as a mouse or a laptop stand that need to be returned, too.
At Kin, we create a list of things employees have right within their profile so it’s easy to understand what is owed back when they are ready to go.
Discuss any agreements
As you’re collecting equipment, you’ll also want to review any non-disclosure agreements (NDA) in place. This allows both you and the employee to be fully aware of what is expected once they exit the company as far as who they can and cannot work for within the said period of time in your NDA.
You’ll also want to give any information they may need about their 401K, IRA or COBRA health insurance. Get with your benefits providers ahead of time to ensure you have the correct information for their departure.
Have their final paycheck ready to go
One huge thing is to ensure that their paycheck is ready to go. You’ll not only have the pay due to them up until that point, but the check should also include any unused PTO if you have a policy of paying that out, or any other severance pay that you’ve agreed to.
If you have a policy of paying out equity at the time of departure, make sure to have your letter ready to sign at this time before you give them a check for it.
Conduct an exit interview
Let’s face it: It never feels great being left. And oftentimes, we’d rather not face it directly. But having a productive conversation with any employee who was a valuable member of your team can provide a lot of insight into making your company stronger.
Here’s a pretty extensive list of questions you could ask during it:
- What could we have done better?
- What would you not want to see change at our organization?
- What led you to looking for another job?
- Would you ever consider returning to our company?
- What could we have done to keep you here?
- Did you feel like a valuable part of the company?
- What was your best day on the job like?
- What was your worst day on the job like?
- How do you believe other employees feel about the company without naming any names?
Remove access to any tools or software
Have another checklist ready to go with all tools and software an employee has access to that contains information about your company. From shutting down their email, to removing them from Slack, Basecamp or shutting down access to your VPN, you’ll want to make sure this can all be done swiftly within moments of them leaving.
No matter how great the relationship was between your employee and the organization, once they have left it is up to you to protect your company from anyone who is no longer employed there.