This article series is written to provide you with an understanding of the difference between Voluntary and Involuntary Terminations including what a general offboarding process would look like. In Part 1 of the series, we will discuss Voluntary Terminations.
When an employee decides to leave their job of their own will, this is known as a Voluntary Termination.
Voluntary Termination Justifications
This is when an employee decides to leave their place of employment on their own terms whether due to expiration of contract, further education, higher wages, new job, conflict with management or colleagues, better working conditions, health reasons, relocation, job abandonment, and so forth.
This is when an employee decides to leave their place of employment or ceases working permanently, typically aged 65 years or older, which is an age set by legislation. However, this is not always the case as some companies who have a retirement policy may allow retirement age to be as low as 45 years.
This is when an employee decides to not comply to certain terms and conditions of their employment to keep their job, whether it be refusing to sign an agreement or contract, not complying to the terms of their disciplinary corrective action plan, violating the company’s policies, etc.
This voluntary termination reason can also be considered an Involuntary Termination, depending on how the company handles and administers their policies.
Regardless of the reason for the voluntary termination, it is always best practice to document everything concerning the matter including conversations, documentation, and document approvals.
Offboarding Process – Voluntary Terminations
Most companies have an offboarding process to ensure there is a smooth transition and consistency when an employee is exiting. The main purpose of this is to make sure each exit is treated equitably. It is crucial to handle each exit with the utmost respect and sensitivity towards the terminating employee, even though the exit is known.
In addition, this process also ensures that there are no loose ends, that the end of employment is done professionally, and the next steps and outcomes are communicated.
There are 3 phases to the offboarding process which are Pre-Exit, Exit Day, and Post-Exit. Each of these have their own set of forms and processes to complete.
1. Pre-Exit Phase
Once you have received notice that an employee is planning on exiting the company, you may want to get a formal written Letter of Intent (aka Resignation Letter), if not already done, which needs to be signed by the employee and include their anticipated last day of work. When you receive this letter, it kicks off the offboarding process and serves as documentation that the employee has made the decision to voluntarily leave their position.
The moment you receive a notice, begin preparing the necessary documents and communications. Depending on the timeframe given, you may need to action this quickly to allow time for everyone to make sure everything is handled without unnecessary worry.
Having an Offboarding Form to communicate the termination via email is the best method. This form is generally sent to IT, HR, and Administration with the manager, C-Suite position, and legal cc’d as these personnel need to know what is happening and may be accountable to action on matters relating to terminations such as disabling company access, changing passwords, completing an ATT Form, processing final pay, handling benefits, or other pressing company matters which need to be handled prior to the employee’s exit date. We have included an Offboarding Form template at the end of this article for you to download and use.
Note: Depending on the structure of your business and the access the employee has, other functions such as Finance, Health & Safety, Supply Chain, and so forth may need to know so they can action any programs or processes they oversee.
Employee Exit Communication
Communicating the employee’s exit to the company is important as you want everyone to be aware of who is leaving and who to contact in lieu of. This communication should be brief, positive, and done as soon as possible to give everyone a smooth transition relating to the employee’s exit. When you are transparent regarding the departure, it will reduce the risk of unnecessary worry brought about by someone leaving. When companies decide to keep employee exits private, it can cause the remaining workforce to worry and question.
Pro Tip: Prior to the Exit Day, you will want to touch base with those involved in offboarding to ensure their tasks are completed or will be completed as scheduled.
2. Exit Day Phase
When it comes to the employee’s exit day or last day of work, it should be less stressful and more geared towards a day to commemorate the employee’s time with the company.
Someone deciding to leave the company should not be taken personally, which is why it is always best practice to show your gratitude for an employee by having a small farewell party to send sincere wishes. A former employee can always be a great referral source.
This is also the day where all company physical and non-physical assets are collected, including hardware, software, credentials, keys, and revoking access to the company and network.
It is important to conduct an Exit Interview. Remember, an exit interview is a list of questions that gives insight into the company and how it operates, giving the exiting employee the opportunity to give feedback on the company. Simply put, it is a great opportunity to gain honest feedback about what the company can do to improve itself.
Prior to the employee exiting, it would be a great opportunity to provide them with their Termination Letter which captures what their final pay is and other matters relating to what happens to their benefits or other incentives, so they are aware of what is coming.
3. Post-Exit Phase
When the employee has officially departed from the company, it is time to touch base with everyone involved in the offboarding process that their assigned tasks are completed. It is also the time when their office is cleaned out.
The manager may want to touch base with their employees to discuss workforce planning that might be happening or any concerns they may have with the tasks that are assigned with them. Knowledge transfer is central to offboarding and often can be a stressful situation, especially when there are “big shoes to fill,” which is why it is vital for the manager to revisit everyone’s role after the employee has departed from the team.
While onboarding is more optimistic, offboarding can bring mixed feelings. Some common mistakes to be aware of when offboarding employees are:
- Treating an exiting employee with negativity and overwhelming them with extra work during their notice period
- Looking for faults and giving a negative performance review
- Feeling personally attacked due to a person’s decision to leave
- Not conducting an exit interview or holding one and rushing through it
- Failure to know the reason why an employee is leaving and not making an offer/amends for them to stay, consider giving them a raise or make modifications in the environment in an effort to try changing their mind
- Having an offboarding process that is chaotic and not well-rounded
- Too many gaps in information and communication like incomplete paperwork, pending paycheck, and other formalities
- Alienating and neglecting former employees and not staying in touch
Remember, even though you cannot stop people from leaving, you can maintain a professional business relationship with them. It can be advantageous for the company when you part ways on a good note and keep in touch!
Now that you have been introduced to a voluntary termination and have a general understanding what is included in the process, it is time to develop one that works best for your business. If you need any assistance at all with developing an offboarding process that works for your business, including any documents, please reach out to a BIG Representative. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series when we discuss Involuntary Terminations.