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Better Offboarding of Employees with 5 Steps

An easy guide to tie up loose ends

Barrett Dilger

5 Steps to Employee Offboarding

We’ve all felt these strong emotions before. Maybe it’s a bittersweet moment as you say goodbye to one of your key employees as they move on to a better opportunity. Perhaps it’s an adrenaline rush as you can’t push that troublemaker employee out the door fast enough.  No matter how you feel about it though, you need to follow some standard procedures to close that door (and lock it).

It’s usually not one of the business procedures people think of until they need it. We might have danced around some of the topics, but we didn’t address offboarding in our 5 must have tech policies for your business. The issue is that this is not just an operational policy. You’re relying on your HR to make sure you have your I’s dotted and T’s crossed. That’s good, but every employee has a digital connection to your company. You need to factor technological separation into the process as well.

Whether or not you’ve dealt with this before, the day will come when you will need to separate an employee from your business. So here are the steps to better offboard employees.

The 5 steps you must take for better offboarding of your employees:

  1. Transfer Key Knowledge
  2. Recover Company Devices
  3. Wipe Employee Devices
  4. Secure Physical Access
  5. Manage Credentials

Some of these are easier said than done, so let’s break down what’s involved with each.

Transfer Key Knowledge

Everybody is replaceable. The question is at what cost?

It’s amazing how much vital business knowledge your employees have. Rightfully so, you’ve empowered them for success. Plus, they know your business inside and out because they’ve done it daily for years.

So, when they move on to a new opportunity, you don’t want them to take that vast knowledge with them. 

You need to take the time to debrief them before they go. Sure, you may have technical details such as their login information (more on this below), but what nuggets of knowledge do they have to make the transition easier? It might be something small, like knowing a vendor website is buggy in Chrome but works flawlessly in Firefox. Maybe it’s something big, like how to process data in your ERP. Major or minor, these things make taking over, and training for their replacement a lot easier.

Even better, set a culture for documenting workflows. Your company should have procedures documented, but we all fall behind in this regard and end up missing something or it is out of date.

Having your staff document these nuances keeps it fresh and relevant. Then they can walk you through the details much easier when you have your exit interview. Remember, they are leaving, you have the most to gain from this discussion. That is what a good exit interview should focus on. Listen to them about what they did, and quite possibly how to make the job better for the next person taking over the reigns.

Recover Company Devices

You would think this one would be hard to miss, but you’d be surprised how many people walk off with their laptops. Obviously the company needs to regain possession of any company-issued devices. Not only is this to repurpose the device (if possible), but more so it’s to ensure that any company data is not left out in the wild.  Frequently an old device from a prior employer ends up being sold, donated, or trashed by ex-employees afterward.  The sooner to recover these devices the better. In fact, check the legalities of your state to see if you can make it part of your policy to regain these devices before issuing the final paycheck (fair warning, it isn’t always legal to go this route).  Of course, that also means you need to keep track of all your devices and to who they are issued. That’s device management, and should be part of your IT strategy.

Wipe Employee Devices

While you are recovering company devices, you should also make sure to process employee devices. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is one of the most popular policies these days, where an employee uses their own device (such as their phone) for company use.  Be it emails, messaging, remote files, or anything they need to get their job done, there’s a good chance your employees are using their phones or other devices with company data. 

That’s why it’s essential to have a BYOD policy in place. A good device manager will be able to remove access to any company applications and wipe company data off an employee’s device.  This requires setting up your policies in advance though, so make sure to do that.

Secure Physical Access

After their digital data has been removed, make sure to take care of any physical access.  Do they have a key to the office? A passcode to the alarm? Whatever you have granted them, it’s time to make sure you get that back.  Obviously removing an access code is fairly simple but you don’t want to have to call a locksmith because there’s a loose, physical key floating around somewhere.

Manage Credentials

Finally, but probably the most in-depth part of it, is managing the old credentials.

You need to know what each employee has access to, and have policies for that access and also for revoking it. Your mileage may vary with this though, and with specific roles in your company.

For instance, it’s probably fine to simply remove or disable access to whatever software you use (such as an ERP or CRM).  What about access to a vendor web portal though? You might want to keep the account enabled, but change the password, to ensure you don’t lock your entire company out.  Make sure somebody else has access before you remove those rights.

What about their emails? You’ll need a company policy to handle if their emails should be forwarded to somebody else, converted to a shared mailbox for access to historical emails, or shut down completely. There’s no one right answer, so you’ll have to review what you would want and set these policies up with your IT provider.

As hinted at before, you’ll need a password manager to handle access to all these accounts.  There are so many benefits to using a password manager, but one of the greatest ones is having full control (and the comfort of that fact) when you offboard an employee.

One last housecleaning item for their credentials. Review their social media access.  They may have been posting on your company’s social media, but under their account. So you won’t be able to make changes to their accounts directly, but you’ll need to keep track of it so you can revoke access from your corporate account pages when the time comes.

That’s a good roundup of the process to easily offboard an employee.  As you may have noticed, this becomes easier when you think about it in advance and have the proper policies in place. Investing into Device Management, Password Managers, and file backups now makes future processes that much easier. 

If you have any questions on these technologies or the policies you should have to go with them, get in touch and we can walk you through it.