We recently wrote about the implications to businesses of ‘The Great Resignation’. Most businesses focus on recruiting, onboarding and retaining great employees. However, having a strategy for offboarding or exiting employees is equally important.
Handling a departure well will help minimise disruption, protect you from liability, improve the chances that an employee may return in the future, and influence how your team feel about your business. Without a proper exit process, you can destroy the overall employee experience. You may also find yourself inadvertently breaching employment or privacy laws.
Whilst we may aspire to the parting of ways with a smile, handshake and leaving do, the reality is often different. It can be tempting to accept a resignation made during an argument or a performance or disciplinary process. However, actioning a heat of the moment resignation could lead to a claim of constructive dismissal. Allow a cooling-off period, then check if your employee still wants to resign before confirming acceptance. It’s worth noting that if an employee resigns and later changes their mind you don’t have to agree.
As always, the starting (or ending!) point is the employment contract. Most ask for notice in writing which is the best practice to avoid any misunderstandings. Check what notice period is in the contract and any terms about working notice, for example, is there a provision for garden leave? You can also agree something else such as a different notice period or that it is not worked at all. Redundancies or terminations may have different terms or require a specific process to be compliant. It follows that every situation will be different. Decisions will depend on how engaged your employee still is with your business, whether their role is critical, and any handover that may be required. Remember that what you agree will also affect termination pay.
The Fine Print
Confirming acceptance of a resignation in writing provides the opportunity to cover off the details of how the relationship will end. You might include:
- Details of the last day and what notice period (if any) will be worked.
- The return of any company property.
- Arrangements for final last pay – make sure you consider any contractual arrangements for example bonuses that may be due or outstanding commissions.
- Confirmation on whether any restraints would be enforced.
- A reminder of any offboarding admin such as an out of office wording or advising passwords and when access to accounts will be deleted.
- Whether any deductions from pay are proposed, for example any agreed training costs or benefits taken in advance.
Letting Your Team Know
Workplace change is unsettling and someone leaving can be distressing, especially if the relationship has been positive. Think about how you let everyone know and give the departing employee the chance to contribute to how that happens. And make sure you address any concerns there may be about managing workloads, especially if other staff may have to pick up duties for a while.
Your offboarding process sends a message to the rest of your team about whether they will be respected and valued for the time they spend with you. Ignoring a departure or treating a staff member poorly because they have decided to leave may have a knock-on effect. Investing in a cake and card can reap rewards; employees’ opinions have an impact on a company’s reputation and brand. According to a 2016 Glassdoor survey, 70% of job candidates look to company reviews before they make career decisions.
An employee who is leaving may be more honest about how they really feel about your business than when they are working for you. This is the perfect chance to get feedback about any concerns that might provoke other departures. This is also the opportunity to communicate your appreciation for the work they have done. This can motivate them to remain engaged and productive during the notice period. Further, it leaves the door open for a return, assuming you might want them back!
Offboarding employees is an inevitable stage of the employee cycle. Get in touch if you would like practical advice and support.