Sometimes a company has to let an employee go. It's an unpleasant reality of doing business, but it is a reality. And if you don't follow a fixed protocol when severing an employee, you could be exposing your organization to serious liability and security risks.
The Employee Termination and Departure Checklist, from our partners at Info~Tech Research Group, spells out about 20 steps that management, Human Resources and IT should undertake when an employee leaves the company. The Word-based template is available free to IT Business Edge members here in the IT Downloads library.
The first thing to note about the process spelled out in the template is that it is applicable in every situation, regardless of whether the team member is voluntarily leaving the company or is being laid off or just plain fired. Whenever someone stops working for your company, you must act to ensure that:
These goals may seem self-evident, but as a team member is leaving, emotions can run high, impeding judgment or just leading to some steps being skipped to get the uncomfortable situation over with as soon as possible. Having a checklist to ensure that all your bases are covered is extremely useful in these situations, as they can be with repetitive tasks such as client system configuration. (Here's hoping that letting folks go does not become repetitive in your company.)
The checklist is laid out in a simple table format, as you can see in the figure below.
About one-third of the list's to-do items are best tackled before you notify an employee that they are being let go. Of course, that's not possible if the employee is the one giving you notice, and in some unfortunate cases a termination must happen quickly. But, as with everything else, advanced planning is essential to making sure any activity goes smoothly.
Some of the preparations listed in the template are:
Review the status of projects and all other work in progress by the employee. Plan for work reallocation. We said a little earlier that most of the aspects of letting an employee go are self-evident, but you'd be surprised how many companies wait to sort out how work will get done until after the employee's departure. Either managers simply think the team will work it out, or they are concerned about sending overly public signals about what must be a confidential process. Regardless, you can't let someone go if you don't know what happens next.
List any equipment and/or files in the employee's possession to be returned. You can't expect the employee to just come to the conference room with their smartphone and thumb drive ready to turn over. If you keep proper inventory of your assets, this should not be a problem.
And, above all else
Notify IT and facilities management to deactivate security and IT access. Schedule this down to the hour or even minute, if you can. Obviously, employees often use work email for personal reasons, so be as accommodating as you can in terms of letting them gather personal information. (This speaks to the "fairness and respect" goal.) If employees have access to sensitive data or communication channels with key clients, be ready to have it shut off as soon as they learn they are leaving.
The template goes on to list a wide range of action items for informing an employee of termination, like making sure you have a forwarding address. It's a very practical and useful tool.