The employee journey – part 2 – exiting employees

Receiving notification of an employee wanting to leave your company can come as a blow.

Often, the news doesn’t come as a complete shock; there are usually a number of signs that an employee may be about to leave or else a series of events that lead up to a resignation. On other occasions, the news may be secretly welcome; perhaps you have felt that the employee in question has been less productive of late.

Either way, managing the exit of an employee can go a long way to determining the closure of the relationship. A well-managed exit vs a poorly managed exit can leave the ex-employee with a much more positive view of your company, as well as sending a message to existing employees.

It is important to have an exit process in place, consisting of the steps to follow when each employee finishes, so that you can be sure to protect your business and minimise the impact of the exit at every stage.

Notice period

Provided that it is deemed suitable for the employee to work their notice, the employee must continue to assume their normal responsibilities and should assist with a handover to the existing team or their replacement if in place.

There are some circumstances in which it is not in the best interests of the company to allow the leaver to have any more access to IT systems, records and files.  In these instances, you may decide to not have the employee work out their notice.  So that the transition will be as smooth as possible, you may ask them to detail all the things they are working on in a handover document.  Regardless of whether or not the employee works their notice, you will have to pay them for the entirety of the notice period.

Communication

Employers will likely want to take control of notifying other employees about the exit as this gives them the opportunity to control the message. In addition, news can quickly spread, so once a decision has been made, it is better to nip rumours in the bud and avoid unnecessary or prolonged ‘office gossip’.

Where an exit is sudden or it is agreed that the notice period will not be worked, a plan will need to be put in place regarding communication with clients and/or suppliers so that this can and be swiftly executed to reduce any potential negative impact.

Administration

From an administrative perspective, there are several things you need to remember to do. This includes organising for the return of any company property including all computer equipment, company smart phones or other devices you may have provided. You will also need to ensure that all outstanding payroll, leave accrued and expenses are organised in advance of the employee’s last day.

Security

Security wise, steps including revoking the exiting employee’s computer access, access to files, and cancelling any accounts they may hold. You will also want to remove them from the company intranet and disable their access to company property.

In the run up to the employee’s last day, it would also be wise to remind them of any confidentiality clauses or restrictive covenants in their Contract of Employment to avoid any attempts to remove or download sensitive data or company or client information.

Exit interview

The exit interview can be overlooked by managers, but in fact, is one often one of the most useful steps.  Not only can it help employers to better understand the reasons for an employee leaving, it is also likely to be the last impression you will leave and therefore your last chance to positively influence their feelings towards your organisation. Whether via posts on social media, company review websites, or old-fashioned word of mouth, employees can and will share their experience with others, so it is important to try and retain a good company reputation where possible to reduce any negative impact on your employer branding.

There are several different ways you can go about the employee exit interview process – from an informal chat to an email survey. The method you choose will likely depend on the size of your organisation and what you feel you will get most value from.  Regardless of method, you may like to ask questions such as: why have you chosen to leave?, what do you like about the company?, was your role as you expected?, have you experienced any problems or barriers in fulfilling you role?,and could we have equipped you to do your job more effectively?  One of the purposes for exit interviews is to be able to improve the experience for future employees, so be prepared to take the feedback and put anything constructive into action.

You may want to engage the services of an independent HR provider to conduct exit interviews as departing employees are often more open and forthcoming with someone unconnected to the business.

People naturally move on in life and in their careers – what’s important is that they leave with a positive image of their time in your employment.

The above advice relates to employee exits that are voluntary – ie. the employee has decided to leave of their own free will.  Where an employee’s exit isn’t voluntary, an entirely different set of procedures should be followed.

For more information about managing employee exist – regardless of the cause or reason – please get in touch with us.