Redesigning a Dignified Employee Exit Process

Employee experience is the second most important concern for US employers, rated as important or very important by 84% of executives.  Unfortunately, the employee offboarding process is often the most neglected area where employee experience is lower then it needs to be.  Why invest in someone who will be a former employee?  Employees are typically shuffled out quickly in front of their coworkers, and separated from an environment that had been their second home for years. 

This final impression of your organization is then reflected in critical employee reviews left on websites like Glassdoor.  83% of new job seekers are likely to research these reviews by former employees when deciding on whether or not to apply for a job.  Redesigning the employee offboarding process can go a long way towards ensuring that departing employees are treated with dignity and respect. 

Redesigning the Exit Process 

Foster an Alumni Network

Corporate alumni networks are not a new concept, but they have been growing in popularity in recent years.  Only 12 percent of former employees agree that they consider themselves to be a part of their previous organization’s alumni network. Redesigning the exit experience is a good way to improve alumni sentiment and brand perception.

Take for example Deloitte, one of the strongest alumni networks of over 300,000 former employees, declares it’s members “colleagues for life”.  The consulting organization offers it’s alumni prestigious networking opportunities with shared profiles of the most successful alumni; as well as training on digital interviewing and resume critiquing.

How do alumni networks pay off big for these organizations?  Take a look at these top alumni value drivers:

  • Brand Advocacy (86%)
  • Business Development (76%)
  • Talent Acquisition (66%)

Days of the Week

HR professionals often disagree about the optimal day of the week to terminate an employee, with some not considering it at all. Traditionally, most HR experts advised letting employees go on Friday afternoons. This allowed employees to get their final paycheck while giving them the weekend to cool off.

Today, however, most organizations frown on Friday terminations. Employees tend to stew over contentious and/or unexpected terminations, they are likely to drink their troubles away at a local bar, and/or if they have questions about things like pay or benefits, they must wait until Monday to ask them.

With Friday out, HR experts disagree over the best day of the week. Some argue that Monday is best. This gives employees an entire week to reach out to their contacts and look for a new job. Those opposed to a beginning of the week termination argue that getting up and coming to work only makes the situation worse.

Others argue that midweek is best. The thought there is that employees will appreciate at least a partial workweek and still have a few days to begin their job search. While there is no right answer, think about what works best for your organization and the employee. This will not make your job any easier, but it certainly can impact how the employee receives the news.

The time of day

Unlike the day of the week, most HR experts agree that the best time to terminate an employee is when there are less people in the office. This could be early morning, after hours, or during a lunch break. By ensuring that there are less people around, the employee is spared some of the embarrassment of being let go.

Meet in a private room 

Again, to afford the employee more dignity and respect, ensure that there are as few team members around as possible. Choose a conference room or office that affords privacy and that is close to the exits. If handling the process remotely, schedule a time with the employee to break the news in private. 

Plan out the logistics before termination

There are many loose ends to tie up before terminating an employee. Security access, network access, and email access all must be terminated. Physical assets must be returned. Include all these points in your employee offboarding process checklist to ensure that you do not miss any items. Calling an employee days after termination to request something you missed does little to improve the employee’s mental state.

Be direct

It is important to be firm, transparent, and respectful with the employee. Explain why they are being fired but avoid a lengthy discussion of reasons. The more you say the more likely you are to offend the employee or invite him or her into a contentious discussion.

Remember that there is little that you can say to soften the blow. As hard as it is for you, it is infinitely worse for them. So, skip the “This was a difficult decision for me,” qualifier and get to the point.

Cover important items

There are several important items that should be covered to give the employee some clarity going forward. Let them know how and when they will receive their final paycheck. Address whether they will receive any severance package and when their benefits will end. If the termination is not for cause, let the employee know that he or she can reach out for a reference.

It is a good practice to include all these items in a formal termination letter. The employee will likely be too emotional to retain much of what you are saying. Finally, give the employee the option of choosing how to notify the team. Some employees may prefer to do it in person. Others might like a moment to write a farewell note or email. Still others may prefer you to notify the team for them. This is a small parting consideration that can go a long way towards giving the employee a sense of finality.

Employee offboarding process checklist

One of the most important components of a successful employee offboarding process is an offboarding checklist. An employee offboarding checklist details the necessary steps and procedures that must be followed when terminating an employee. This formal process reduces the risks of potential legal and security issues, and also leaves the employee with a positive image of your organization.

Firing someone is never easy. Creating a structured employee offboarding process goes a long way towards making the experience more tolerable for both management and employees. ProcessMaker is an industry leading workflow software that allows non-programmers to seamlessly design, improve, and automate the employee offboarding process. 


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