The departure of an employee can be a difficult time for your business. It is also a time that your business is exposed to the potential for real damage. If you establish a clear and consistent process for departing employees, you can protect your business and minimise the impact on staff and customers.
Either an employee has resigned, or you terminated their employment. Now what?
1. Set a clear finishing date
Setting a clear finishing date draws the line in the sand and gives you and the employee a date to work towards.
Inform staff and relevant customers in an appropriate way about the employee’s departure and finishing date. This ensures that any necessary handover tasks can be completed prior to the finishing date.
2. Remind the employee of their obligations
You should make the departing employee aware of their post-employment obligations under the employment contract. The employee will be bound by obligations regarding intellectual property, confidential information and restraints even after they have left your business.
Some employment contracts, particularly for management or senior employees, contain handover requirements to ensure the employee departs without too much disruption to the business. If this is the case, you should revisit those requirements with the employee. If there are no stipulated requirements, set reasonable handover tasks for the employee to complete before their finishing date.
3. Review and handover the employee’s work
Before the employee finishes, make sure they handover their work. It is a good idea to ask the departing employee about any deadlines you may not be aware of and any risks they foresee with their work.
Once the departing employee’s work has been reviewed, reallocate it among your other employees. Do this early so that your other employees ask questions about the work before the departing employee leaves.
You should also ensure that the employee’s appointments and due dates are moved across into their successor’s calendar. This helps to prevent meeting mix-ups or due deadlines being missed.
If the employee was responsible for any internal task, ask the employee to document it. Then have another employee complete the task from the instructions. This will help you develop a procedure so that anyone in the business can tackle the task when needed in the future.
4. Reclaim your property
It is easier to reclaim property belonging to your business before the employee leaves, rather than trying to chase it later. Ideally, you should have an inventory of all the items issued to an employee, so that you can tick off when they have been returned.
All equipment used by the departing employee should be returned to your premises on or before their finishing date. This includes laptops, laptop bags, mobile phones, tablets, portable hard drives or USBs, headphones/headsets and chargers.
If your employee has a uniform, make sure that it is cleaned and returned to the business. It is your business’ brand (and therefore reputation) on the uniform, and you don’t want the employee to wear, sell or donate it.
The employee should also return any hard copy files or documents they have taken home with them to work from home. Consider if your employee may have done any work on a personal computer or using their personal email. If they have, you should ask them to delete all work files.
Lastly, you need to obtain all keys and access passes (i.e. swipe cards) from the employee on their last day at work. If your work has a keypad entry system, don’t forget to disable the employee’s entry code.
5. Close off access to systems
One of the main ways departing employees do damage is by accessing confidential information from online systems before their access is cut-off. We have seen instances where a former employee had access to the client database for just a couple of days and took valuable contact information to use in their next job. It is vital that you change passwords for online systems at the end of the employee’s last day.
The sorts of systems you should consider are:
- Email accounts
- Client Relationship Management programs
- Company accounts with third parties, such as search databases, accounting software and supplier log-ins
- Password managers
- Phone and voicemail systems
- Video conferencing programs
- Banking log-ins
Ensure that a diversion or new voicemail message is put in place for the employee’s usual phone number, and that you activate an auto-reply or auto-forwarding for their work email.
6. Final pay
Once the employee has worked their last shift, you need to calculate and pay their final pay, including any accrued annual leave or pro-rata long service leave they are entitled to.
It is generally recommended that you process the final pay in the next usual payroll cycle following the end of the departing employee’s employment. However, certain payments such as performance-based commissions may not be known at that time. Those payments can be deferred until the amount can be calculated or the payment would ordinarily have been made.
7. Take stock
The departure of an employee is prime time to take stock and consider what worked well and what didn’t. Think about why the employee is leaving and what changes you could make to your business to avoid another employee leaving for the same reason.
If possible, survey the departing employee about their experience working for your business. This is commonly known as an ‘exit interview’. Try to elicit information about the things they found great about the business and aspects that could be improved. They will value the opportunity to provide their feedback. You can then use the feedback to improve your business.
Review whether the employment contract, policies and procedures helped or hindered you when it was time to deal with the departing employee. If you identified some flaws in your documents, now is the time to address them.
Lastly, consider changing your recruitment process to avoid employee departures in the future. For example, did the employee struggle to perform the duties of the role? Or was the employee not the right fit for the team? Examine what you might have done differently in scoping, advertising or interviewing for the role.
Need help? Having a clear process to deal with the departure can help manage the stressful time that comes when an employee leaves your business. Although it is a difficult time, the departure of an employee presents an opportunity to improve your processes in the future. Call us on 1300 654 590 for help dealing with departing employees.