As a business owner, there will come a time when you will need to manage a staff departure. Employees can resign to move on to better opportunities or because they are disgruntled. Some retire and others you may have to fire. Whatever the reasons for staff departures, here are five steps that will make the transition easier for you and the rest of the staff.
1. Have a transition plan in place.
A plan for managing departures should be in place when you hire employees. The amount of time you require employees to give notice of their departure should be included in the employee/employer contract. When you receive notice, determine the exact date that will be the final day of employment and notify the employee, too.
Depending on the circumstances, departing employees may not be required to continue working until the notice period is up. If employees are fired, you may want them to leave the day you inform them they will no longer be needed even if the contract requires you to pay them through the end of the notice period. Find out if they have any outstanding vacation time that needs to be taken or paid for as this could change the end date.
If they have been in a position to know trade secrets or start a business that could be in competition with yours, you should have contracts in place to protect your intellectual property or with noncompetition clauses when relevant.
2. Provide relevant information to the remaining staff.
Whenever employees have their employment terminated, whether voluntarily or due to being let go, the office rumour mill can begin which could unsettle the environment. Remaining staff may worry that their own position is in jeopardy or be concerned about how the work will get done.
Some staff members may need more information than others. For example if you need some staff members to take up some of the workload until a new employee is hired, those members need to know that.
You may want to give current employees an opportunity to fill the position of the departing staff member. If so, they need to know how to go about applying for the position. If a new hire is already in place, they need to know who it is and when the new person will begin work.
If your company is small enough, you may want to call a staff meeting to inform other employees and give them an opportunity to ask questions. Instead of a meeting, you may want to put together a well-worded email to send to all employees. If the departing person had clients or customers, they need to be told how their business will now be handled and who this will be.
3. Be sure your Information Technology (IT) is secure.
No matter how trustworthy departing staff members are, you need to be certain that your IT is protected. Make a list of all business applications and user accounts. Be sure that passwords are changed for all of them. If the employees used their own devices for work, be sure you can delete all your business information from those devices. This includes any information they may access from home, if they have been working flexibly out of the office at any point.
4. Recognize contributions of the departing staff members.
Try to make the departure as pleasant as possible. If staff members are leaving for what they feel is a better opportunity, congratulate them and wish them well. Have a farewell luncheon where you can honour the time they have spent with the company and other staff members can tell them goodbye. Even for those who are leaving on less than friendly terms, remain polite and gracious.
5. Conduct an exit interview.
Meet with staff members in a setting where they can feel comfortable and free to discuss with you why they are leaving. Ask what they liked best about working for you. Ask for any suggestions about how their work situation could have been better and whether they would consider working for the company again.
If you do not have these procedures in place then you should create a human resource framework as soon as possible. Do not be afraid to consult some HR advice where they will be able to suggest what is best for your business. Ensure conversations are documented with the departing member of staff and keep this electronically in a secure folder or in a master folder that should be kept in a locked room at all times.
About the Author: As a young entrepreneur and business blogger, Lucinda Smith has developed a passion for helping small and medium sized businesses grow, focusing on using technology and software solutions to save businesses time and money. She also contributes to the DNS managed print services blog.
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