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Exiting Employees: Essential Steps for a Smooth Transition

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Employee departures and transitions are a normal part of working lives. A 2019 study found that a one percentage point increase in career transitions is associated with an increase in average wages. 

In good and bad economic times, many workers choose to transition their careers for more money. Yet, many people do not encounter a smooth transition. 

  • What should your first steps be when an employee wants to leave the organisation? 
  • What should you do for an exit interview? 
  • How can you leave a good impression on your employee? 

Answer these questions, and you can help someone ease their way into a brighter future. Here is your comprehensive guide. 


Read the signs

However possible, you should manage employee dissatisfaction. Signs of discontent can include skipping meetings, not connecting with the team or failing to achieve targets.

Try to talk to an employee who shows these signs and give them suggestions on what they can do. They may need to take a break from work or manage new responsibilities. 


Accept the Resignation 

An employee may resign for many different reasons. Departing employees may want to retire, or they may want to change careers. There is also a possibility that exiting employees may become dissatisfied with your company's policies or leadership. 

If an employee decides to resign, do not take it personally. Read over their resignation notice and have a conversation with them about it.

You should accept their notice, even if you feel they do not have good reason to leave. Some managers consider having open and honest conversations with departing employees to find the possibility of retaining them.

Communicate to Relevant People 

Once you have finished your initial conversation, you must communicate the employee resignation to all relevant people. You should talk to their immediate supervisor and the HR and security teams. 

If departing employees had major clients, you should plan how the decision will be communicated. Whenever possible, this should be done through a phone or face-to-face conversation. An email notification is too impersonal for a major announcement like an employee resignation. 

You do not have to provide the details about why the person is leaving the company. Ask anyone with questions to direct them to you, not to the employee. 

Send an exit process email to update clients on what is going on. Give them a timeline on when they should expect the departing employee to leave. 

Have an Offboarding Process

An onboarding process equips a new employee with the skills to succeed in an organisation. The process involves taking steps so an employee and a company can part ways with little hassle. 

Offboarding is just as crucial as onboarding. Many companies neglect to secure company laptops or gain valuable insight from an important employee. A company risks a security threat or upsetting their employee if they are not careful. 

Your human resources team should draft the employee exit procedure well in advance. It should apply to junior and senior employees alike. Every employee should feel respected as they are leaving a company. 

Establish a timeline for when essential personnel will receive notification of the resignation. Delegate responsibilities about who will take charge of an employee's belongings. Discuss what exit interview questions you can ask, but try to be flexible for each resignation. 

There should be a separate offboarding process for terminations. It can go faster than the process for resignations, but it should still involve several steps. Read about how companies handle employee exit management by researching "employee offboarding check."

Conduct an Exit Interview

Plan a good time to sit down for an interview with your employee. They should pick the time and place for the conversation. It does not have to be in the office or during standard business hours. 

Conduct the exit interview survey. The questions should reflect the employee's particular thoughts on company culture and expectations for their position. You can ask, "How did your position align with your expectation of the job?" 

If you conduct the survey in person, start the interview by explaining the purpose of your conversation. Let exiting employees know that their answers are confidential.

If you use tech for exit interviews, it is a good idea that you take the time to explain the value of their answers.

Then ask the departing employee to summarise their experience and valuable insight. Allow them to talk for as long as they would like so they become comfortable. 

You can take notes, but you should try to make the conversation as natural as possible. 

Plan For a New Hire and Handle Ongoing Responsibilities

While you are dealing with the departing employee, you should prepare to fill their position. You may want to replace your employee with a team member in your organisation. You may need to hire someone else entirely or hire someone to replace the promoted employee. 

Figure out what the training needs of the new hire will be. The resigning employee may want to train them or sit down with them for a knowledge transfer. You should ask the resigning employee to create handover notes with the relevant information for the new employee. 

The resigning employee should handle their job responsibilities in the time before they leave. The quality of their work should not diminish. Ask them to adhere to deadlines so you can ensure a smooth transition. 

If there is a gap between the resignation and the new hire, you need to ask someone to step into the position temporarily. Pick this person as soon as possible. Make sure they can handle all of their work until this position is filled. 

Do not rush the hiring process. Make sure you are checking references the right way. Conduct phone interviews and ask relevant questions about the experiences of applicants. 

Do not mention why the position is open unless an applicant asks you. Be honest with your answer, but you do not have to mention problems if you don't want to. 

Farewell departing employees

You should know how to say farewell to the employee and give them a proper send-off. This shows that you care about the employee themselves, and it gives your office an opportunity to say goodbye. It may also help with employee retention, as employees will stay to receive a farewell. 

With remote working conditions, creativity becomes essential for departing farewells. You can do something small like sending them a thank-you note. Ask everyone in the office to sign off on it. You can also give them a personalised gift that reflects their interests. 

A senior employee should be sent off with a farewell party. This party or online gathering can be on their last day or after they have left. You can get elaborate with food or free UberEats. 

Ensure Access Is Removed, and Equipment Is Returned 

Wait until after the employee's final day to remove their access to important company information. This includes credit cards and Wi-fi access. 

You do not have to change the passwords to all of your company accounts. You may want to let them keep their company email for a few days so they can answer any last emails from clients. You should only strip them of access right away if they pose to be a security threat. 

Draft a checklist of the equipment they may have. Electronics are important, but you should also consider paperwork and other materials. Make sure you have everything and ask the employee if they took anything home with them. 

Engage the Employee in an Alumni Group

An alumni group lets former employees of a company gather together. They can share their experiences at the company and help the company grow. They may be able to provide references for each other as well. 

If your employee leaves on good terms, direct them to the alumni network. They may not want to engage with it right away, but you should give them the option to do so.  

Complete Final Pay Process and Provide Exiting Documentation

Make sure the final paycheck for an employee goes through. It may come after their last day, or it may come during their last week. They should receive full compensation for all of the work that they do. 

You should also check that their retirement and health benefits are secure as well. If they will receive a pension, communicate to them what that pension entails. 

Ensure all financial documents relevant to the payment process are sorted. The more transparent you are with your employee, the more satisfied they will be. 

If the employee signed a disclosure agreement, you should give them a copy of the document. This will let them adhere to the terms as time goes on. 

How to Make a Smooth Transition 

Every employee wants a smooth transition from a company. Greet your employee with respect when they decide to resign. Communicate their decision to everyone that may be affected. 

Start the offboarding process right away. Conduct an exit interview and ensure that the responsibilities in the position will get carried out. 

Give your employee a good farewell and have them join an alumni group. You should then hand over documents that will help them get a new job. 

Get the tools you need for all HR tasks. Xref provides solutions for recruitment and employee verification. Request a demo today. 


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