Losing an employee – what to do?

 

When an employee moves on what needs to be done. With the help of Investors in People we look at the practical and the not so obvious.

When an employee quits, what are HR’s responsibilities? They must ensure the notice period and handover are smooth and trouble-free, not only for the organisation but for the outgoing employee. But as well as making the transition smooth, HR has a responsibility to protect the organisation and ensure the employee’s knowledge isn’t lost forever.

Carly Gregory, Business Partner at advo hr explains. “When someone leaves, this can have a huge effect particularly within a small business, where it more noticeable. Breach of contract is a risk, therefore it is really important that an employer makes sure they are paying the employee correctly, including benefits and holiday accrued and they are following the appropriate processes in order to prevent a breach. We recommend the business creates a leavers checklist, which can be a really useful tool to help the Company comply and meet their obligations with the various tasks that need to be undertaken when someone leaves, in order to protect the business.”

Calculate notice period and holiday allowance

What is the employee’s contractual notice period and do you need to mutually agree changes? Senior hires often take gardening leave, especially if they are moving to one of your competitors. For roles likely to involve complex handover periods, you may wish the employee to stay until the end of their notice period.

When it comes to holiday, you probably have a company policy about taking holiday allowance versus being paid for it, but there may be room to negotiate if, for example, the employee has a lot of accrued holiday but a lengthy handover is desirable.

Close off relevant benefits schemes

If the employee has access to an online discount portal, they may have unused cash or credit that needs spending. HR should nudge them to check.

For medical schemes e.g. Health Cash Plans, often you’re not allowed to claim if you know you’re leaving the scheme, which may impact employees who have ongoing claims, such as for physiotherapy. HR should let the employee know if restrictions apply, as well as liaise with the provider and ensure the employee’s scheme is discontinued at the right time.

Another common benefit that needs addressing is the Cycle to Work scheme, where final payments will need to be calculated and employees offered the choice of purchasing their bike.

Ensure IT equipment is returned and revoke system access

IT equipment is handed back on the last day but it’s good practice to prepare early. Standard equipment is easy to manage, such as laptops, but does the employee have any equipment that was lent out informally or before records were established?

When it comes to system access, don’t forget to let IT know about systems they may not be tracking, such as online social media accounts used locally by the employee and their colleagues.

Wrap up variable compensation, such as bonuses

Variable compensation schemes often have tenure requirements, for example only being available to employees if they stay for the whole calendar or financial year.

Some schemes, however, have payouts based on milestones or achievements and it’s important to review these early in case there are disagreements or discrepancies. The more time you have before the employee leaves, the easier it is to work these out amicably.

Establish a schedule for exit interview(s)

There’s the standard exit interview with HR in which employees provide more generalised feedback, but this isn’t the only valuable exit interview.

Exit interviews with the line manager, with senior managers and with colleagues or cross-functional team members can provide more specific feedback that yields day-to-day improvements.

A key part of exit interviews is also understanding where the employee has crafted their role outside of what the organisation understands their role to be, so you can suitably train their replacement. At this stage also try to establish where efficiencies or opportunities haven’t been exploited because these can be addressed once a replacement has been hired.

Establish handover procedures

The handover process needs to cover both explicit and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is easily-documented information that forms part of the processes governing the way the employee does their job.

Tacit knowledge is hard to convey on paper but incredibly important to the success of the organisation, such as knowledge about key clients or information about what the organisation has tried in the past that hasn’t worked. This type of knowledge is often best passed along informally. Handovers should also include key relationships, such as important clients.

Broadcast the employee’s decision and next steps

Often there’s a set pattern of announcements: line managers and HR are told first by the employee. Senior managers are then told, alongside internal functions such as finance and IT.

The employee’s local team and any close colleagues are then involved, before the news is communicated more widely. Small companies may send a ‘whole company’ email, while larger organisations may limit the news to the immediate department or locale.

Finally, communicating the change externally comes last: this is often left until a solid succession plan is in place. For all these communications, liaise with the employee on what to include. They may not want you to put where they are going next, for example.

Mitigate knock-on effects to deadlines and team workloads

Even if recruitment efforts start immediately, there will likely be a gap between an outgoing employee leaving and their replacement starting. However, their work still needs completing.

HR and local line managers must ensure this is shared among employees who can perform the tasks well. Note that this is particularly necessary for roles in which the employee becomes naturally less operational once they have handed in their notice, such as sales team members.

Within the employee’s local team, there may also be a ‘productivity deficit’ as colleagues come to terms with the change and what it means for them.

Organise the collection/send the card round

Not all organisations send round a ‘collection envelope’ and a card to sign, but if you do, start it as early as possible. Why?

Because people are in and out of the workplace and it may take a few circulations before everyone gets the chance to sign it. And make sure you prioritise those who the employee has had the most contact with during their time with the organisation.

Senior managers and leadership should also sign the card, otherwise it can look like an omission and can reflect badly on the company.

Once the card starts going round, you should nudge the employee to organise a leaving do if they would like to. Sometimes managers organise this but it’s often best to leave it up to the employee so they can choose an appropriate venue and time.

Consider involving the outgoing employee in recruiting their replacement

They know best what their job entails, so it makes sense to have them actively outlining what their job entails.

If appropriate they can help you understand what qualities you should look out for, what skills are most relevant and what behaviours are essential to success in the role. But it is essential to temper their advice with an open mind and in consideration as to why they are leaving. There are many ways to approach a job, and you should remain open to other approaches that may work just as well or better.

 

 

advo group is an Investors-in-People Gold employer.

 

 

This article is based on information from Investors in People. You can see their original article here.

 

 
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