By Christina Davis
You are leaving for work. You grab your keys, wallet, and coffee mug or water bottle. You say goodbye to the family and maybe the pets before you head to the car.
You are going on vacation. This transition requires more preparation: Have you checked in for your flight? Do you have your ID and your medications? Have you packed everything in an airline-acceptable bag? Have you arranged for your airport transportation?
Every transition has its own set of non-negotiable requirements. If you forget your keys when you leave the house, you won’t get very far. If you neglect to book a flight, you’ll be stuck at home instead of relaxing on the beach with a drink in hand. The same is true when an employee leaves your company: If you don’t have a clear procedure to follow, you’ll likely miss some important steps.
So often in the human resources world, we talk about the proper way to onboard a new hire, but we forget the details of proper offboarding. I’ve created a checklist to ensure that you are covering all your bases when employees leave your company.
Communicate the change as quickly as possible to prevent unnecessary gossip and speculation. Send a message to the company and a separate one to all relevant clients. The communication does not need to explain why the person is leaving. But, in a situation like a retirement, sharing that information is a great way to publicly acknowledge or thank the employee.
Have the proper paperwork completed. This may include a termination letter, information on continuation of benefits, their last paycheck if you are in a state that requires the paycheck be given on the date of termination, or a resignation letter from the employee. If the employee is moving, it is important to get the new address for tax documentation purposes.
Conduct an exit interview. Although an in-person exit interview is recommended, sometimes it’s just not possible. In those cases, email a form to the exiting employee. Exit interviews are a great opportunity to get honest feedback on various company-related topics, including management style, culture, training, suggestions for changes, complaints, and praise. This information can and should be shared with the management team so changes can be made where needed, helping push the company to improve performance at all levels.
Return of company property. Employees use many assets belonging to the company throughout their tenure, sometimes taking these assets home. This could include devices such as tablets, cellphones or laptops; uniforms; keys; badges; or a company credit card. Simply collecting the corporate credit card is not enough. Make certain that it has been deactivated and the balance has been reconciled.
Process reimbursements and any PTO pay. If the exiting employee has an expense account, ensure that all transactions have been processed or are in the process of being reimbursed. Many states require you to pay exiting employees their accrued but unused PTO time, while other states leave it up to the company and the policy it creates and communicates through its employee handbook. If you are unsure of your policy, refer to your employee handbook or talk to your human resources department or consultant to guarantee you are following state guidelines.
Employee emails and system access. When new employees join your company, create an email and provide them with access to the various systems they will be using. Likewise, when the employee leaves the company, you need to ascertain that their emails are forwarded to the appropriate new party during the transition period and that their access to computer systems has been shut off. My recommendation is to create a checklist of systems as a reference for when new hires come on board and use that same checklist when they are offboarding.
Handoff projects/work. If you are given a two-week notice or more, dedicate scheduled time for a proper handoff of work, projects, and knowledge. A seamless transfer of work will instill confidence in both your employees and your clients.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in June 2017, close to 3 million Americans quit their jobs each month, and this does not include layoffs or other involuntary terminations. Unfortunately, we all deal with employees leaving. While we work hard to keep employees motivated and loyal to the company, turnover is inevitable. Creating a proper offboarding process will help you and your team stay organized and ensure that company property, both intellectual and physical, is properly treated and cared for.
Christina Davis is the HR director for the LMC Group. she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.