In today’s knowledge economy, skilful employees are the key determinants of organizational success. When employees leave the organization, how is the exit managed?
Every organization pays a lot of attention to onboarding new hires with specially designed orientation programs meant to smoothen their integration into the organization. However, equal attention is not paid to smoothening the exit process of employees. Employers need to pay as much attention to employees leaving the organization as they do to employees joining them.
What is an Employee Exit Plan?
An employee exit plan enables employees to exit their current jobs in a methodical and graceful manner. The exit plan should be more than just deactivating the access code of the exiting employee and finding a replacement. The plan should enable businesses to navigate the challenges that arise from employee turnover.
Using an exit plan, organizations make every effort to learn and understand
- what drives employees to leave an organization,
- what motivates them to work harder,
- what inspires them to stay loyal to an organization,
- what the organization can do better, and their opinion on the working hours,
- do employees prefer remote work, etc.
Key Elements of an Employee Exit Plan
When designing an employee exit plan for the organization, the factors to be mindful of include:
Knowledge Transfer: The exit plan should include a structured plan for the employee leaving the organization to transfer all work-related knowledge to a designated person or record it as a knowledge document.
This should include listing the responsibilities of the role, ongoing projects, bottlenecks, deadlines, current project status, contacts of key personnel, etc. The knowledge transfer should also list the location where the information is stored – physically and digitally. The knowledge transfer cannot happen in a hurry or over a day – especially for employees exiting after extended tenures.
The employee exit plan should cater for sufficient time for the knowledge transfer with the provision for periodic checking-in and reviews.
Analysis of the Transition: An analysis of the circumstances surrounding the exit is also important. The exit can become an occasion for reviewing various aspects of the job – the requirement of updating the job description, the workload associated with the role, flexible working, will the position be filled internally/externally, work-life balance programs, etc. The transition can be an opportunity to review the job function and institute improvements.
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Maintain the Momentum. During the transition, the work should continue without any roadblocks. Customers, vendors, suppliers, and partners should not feel any disturbance by the transition. The leadership must step in to maintain positivity and optimism and to ensure that the work momentum does not drop.
Leveraging Feedback: To improve the effectiveness of the vacant position and the organization’s overall effectiveness, feedback received from the employee who is leaving can be an invaluable resource.
The feedback can furnish insights into the strengths and shortcomings of the processes and the organization’s work culture. Even a terminated or dissatisfied employee can provide insights into what bothers employees.
These instances also become opportunities to analyze how the hiring process could be improved to ensure the right hiring and what could be done to improve employee engagement and support.
Acknowledge Contributions: Finally, the plan should also cater to thanking and acknowledging the contributions of people who helped make the transition smooth.
Employee exits, if improperly handled, can have drawn-out and unforeseen adverse effects. A structured plan ensures a seamless transition and even converts the transition into an opportunity for reviewing company processes and workplace culture and environment.
Checklist for an Employee Exit Plan
The employees’ exit process is the set of activities that need to be undertaken as a part of the off-boarding or exit formalities of the employee.
Having a structured exit plan helps in:
- Transferring work-related knowledge from the employee leaving the organization.
- Preventing potential legal problems that could arise later without proper exit formalities.
- Making process improvements based on the feedback received from exiting employees.
However, according to one study, only 29 percent of organizations have a structured employee exit plan. The checklist of the important activities to be conducted as a part of the exit formalities includes:
- Communicate who is exiting and will fill in until the final replacement is found. If the replacement has already been identified, plan for some overlap/co-working between the outgoing and incoming employees.
- Documentation is complete – the resignation letter, acceptance of resignation, final settlement of dues, etc.Exiting employees should create a document listing ongoing work/projects, deadlines, bottlenecks, etc.
- Return of company-provided equipment such as computer, identity card, etc. Disable system and facility access for the exiting employee.
- Discuss relevant non-disclosure and non-compete clauses.
- Conduct exit interview.
- Clear final settlement and issue relieving letter.
Exit Interview Questions
The extra interview is probably the most important step in the exit plan. The exit interview enables the organization to gather the reason(s) that the employee is leaving. Exiting employees are more likely to share honest feedback.
This information will enable generating insights on eliminating those reasons and crafting retention policies to minimize future exits. The exit interview is also an opportunity for the organization to thank the exiting employee for their contributions.
The essential questions to be asked during the exit interview include:
- What caused you to start your search for a new job?
- Would you ever like to return to the company? Same role?
- How was your employee experience lifecycle at the company?
- Did the organization recognize your contributions adequately? If not, how could it have been done?
- Were the company policies easy to understand? If not, how can they be made more explicit?
- Was there a change in your job description since you joined?
- Were you provided with the requisite tools, resources and support to succeed in your role? What more can be done?
- Were you provided adequate training to succeed in your role? What else could be done for your professional development?
- What did you like the most about your job here?
- What can we do better to improve employee morale, work-life balance, and engagement?
- What are your aspirations for your new job?
- Would you recommend our organization to a friend? Why and why not?
- Do you have any other comments or suggestions?
A structured employee exit plan is an excellent means for collecting information on what employees think works in the organization and what needs fixing. Inputs from exiting employees can be collected through exit interviews, questionnaires, surveys, etc.
Such information helps the organization uncover hidden insights on the roadblocks to growth, the opportunities for business expansion, and the factors that motivate/de-motivate people in the organization. Such efforts to engage employees who are exiting signal to the other employees that their opinion is valued and that the organization is always looking to improve the workplace – enhancing employee engagement.
Sadly, most organizations pay scant attention to building a structured exit plan. The required thought and planning by the leaders in crafting a robust exit plan, including the use of available tech tools. Read HR automation use cases to know how. They can really act as an invaluable strategic lever to give the organization a competitive edge.