As the saying goes, letting go isn’t always easy – it’s normally quite the opposite, most of the time. It’s ok to accept, though, that employee offboarding (whether it’s voluntary or involuntary) is a delicate subject.
Onboarding new employees is an essential responsibility of most HR departments, as is the other end of this process. When an employee decides to leave your company or a team leader comes to the conclusion that he/she is no longer a good fit for the team it’s paramount to follow some procedures in order to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone involved.
Off boarding isn’t necessarily directly related to firing, as most people think. You may need to off board an intern whose temporary work contract has reached its end or an employee that’s handed in a resignation letter in order to move on to another opportunity.
In most of these cases, the HR person is responsible for coordinating all offboarding procedures between the employee himself and his direct supervisor/manager.
Technically, these two people are normally enough to handle the off boarding procedures but there may be more people involved in case the departing employee needs to teach/train a team mate to fill in.
Offboarding 101: How to conduct an offboarding/exit meeting
The procedures during offboarding will depend mostly on the situation at hand. For example, if an employee is being asked to leave, the HR responsible will most likely go through the exit paperwork with him/her and get all necessary signatures.
In some states/countries, the paperwork may contain the reason why the employee is being terminated but that’s not mandatory. It’s also customary to present the employee with any additional paperwork and provide him/her with the final paycheck.
Most companies follow their own internal checklists to ensure all company equipment has been returned and all company accounts are closed.
If the situation is a mutual agreement (voluntary departure) the meeting tends to be more relaxed. The necessary procedures, such as signing paperwork, are followed and the employee and company normally agree on how long the employee can/will stay to train someone to fill in for him/her as well as close out/transfer any work relations.
The do’s and dont’s of offboarding
Even though each situation may have its own particularities, some procedures should always be followed when off boarding an employee, such as:
- Make sure the departing employee gets his/her final paycheck on time;
- Make sure all necessary paperwork is properly signed;
- Collect all company material (such as office keys, laptop, etc.);
- Close all company accounts (email, intranet access, etc.);
- Physically walk the employee out of the office.
In some cases, especially when the employee is voluntarily leaving, it’s nice to have the direct supervisor inform the entire office that a certain person is leaving, as well as giving him/her the chance to email their colleagues with a farewell message.
In case of involuntary termination, even though it’s nice to at least let the team members know that a certain person is no longer part of the team (right after he or she has left). It’s not mandatory – nor advised – to give any further explanations as to why the person was fired.
Now that you know what you must do when dealing with an employee’s departure, here’s what you absolutely should not do when dealing with a termination:
Don’t spread the word! Before an employee is dismissed, no one (other than the person who called for the termination) needs to know about it. As mentioned above, after the person has left, it’s ok to let people know he/she is no longer a part of the team, but before things come to terms, discretion and protecting the employee’s performance is a must.