Checklist: Offboard Employees Right and Reduce Your Risk

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As many organizations have settled into Work From Home (WFH), the discussion has shifted to risk management, task organization, and budget-saving ideas. This blog, "The employee offboard checklist," offers ways to manage risk and organization tips and suggests ways to save your budget.

In 2020, I wrote a blog to provide tips for onboarding virtual employees. While a concise plan to onboard new employees is critical, do not forget the importance of an offboarding checklist.

According to a survey by TEKsystems, only 14 percent of IT leaders strongly agree their organization has an effective offboarding process… A formalized offboarding process not only mitigates legal and security threats and helps you gain honest feedback from employees on where to improve your organization, but it can also woo stellar “boomerang employees” to return in the future.—

The five-point checklist

While offboarding an employee requires completed tasks by several departments within an organization, I write this blog from an IT manager's view. As you read the five-point checklist, keep in mind that you may be offboarding an employee from your organization. The same list can still be used if an employee is being moved to a new team or satellite office within your organization.

As IT services managers, MainSpring often finds that offboarding employees is a process sometimes forgotten or not done completely, leaving a security risk. And, if overlooked, may lead to both short-term and long-term negative impacts. To reduce risk, here is our five-point checklist.

  1. The documented process. As an organization, ensure that you have a detailed process that should be followed with every employee leaving your organization. This process will include tasks for several departments or team leaders, not just your IT team. Create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to immediately follow, starting on the last day of employment for those terminated and prior for those who notice departure. Every organization, regardless of size, should have a termination SOP.
    1. Your SOP should include three scenarios for termination:
      1. Immediate termination of employment
      2. A resignation that includes a work period
      3. A termination of location, but the individual remains employed by your organization
    2. Special Note: If you employ contractors, any offboarding SOP should also include your organization’s and/or contract’s protocols
  2. Communicate departure. As employees, or contractors, are terminated all impacted organization departments and team leaders should be immediately notified. If you have pre-notice of a departure, go ahead, and communicate the upcoming exit. Remember, quick response to a departure reduces your risk.
  3. Recover company assets. Before an employee leaves your employment, ensure that all company assets have been recovered. Assets include laptops, smartphones, tablets, and both digital and paper files. In a WFH environment, you may find the recovery of assets challenging. Team leaders and IT managers should have a current list of provisioned assets. Your offboarding SOP should include instructions for recovering assets that are not at your physical office. Perhaps, consider holding a final paycheck until all assets are recovered or a buy-out program for laptops and phones. Company assets that are not recovered are an expense to your organization. Often, assets can be re-provisioned to new hires.
  4. Revoke system access. Often, your IT management team plays a crucial role in the offboarding process. Their involvement is key to managing your risk. The first three checklist points facilitate risk management. As many of us work from home, virtual private networks (VPN) and the Cloud have increased across all market segments. As an employee is terminated for any reason, their system access should be revoked immediately. Quick and concise communication with your IT team is paramount in managing your risk.
  5. Review subscriptions. Recently, I wrote a blog, “Your Budget. Your Subscriptions”. One way to save budget funds is to discontinue subscription services as employees are terminated. As you read this blog, you will note that subscription services can be a budget buster. Continuing to pay for a subscription or software license after an employee is terminated is undoubtedly a budget buster. Do you have a list of subscription services used by each current employee? Work with your IT team to establish a plan and keep it current.

Feedback and transfer of knowledge

While my five-point checklist provides ways to mitigate risk and maintain a budget, do not forget to learn from every employee departure.

If time permits, schedule an exit interview and a transfer of knowledge. An exit interview is best performed by an HR department or team leader. Still, time should be designed to transfer knowledge to other team members.

If your organization uses a mentor program, a mentor can facilitate the transfer of knowledge from an outgoing employee to a new hire. To ensure the transfer of knowledge, include procedures for exit interviews and training in your offboarding SOP.

IT's critical role

MainSpring is an IT Managed Services Provider in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) region. As a proactive IT partner, we’ve put careful process, procedure and technologies in place to ensure offboardings go smoothly and timely. If you’re managing it yourself then an SOP is a good starting point. An IT department, even a virtual one, plays a critical role in the offboarding of a terminated employee. Are you managing your risk with an effective offboarding process?