If you are getting ready to terminate someone because they were not cut out or qualified for the job like you initially thought, try not to feel too bad. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, companies lose about $14,900 every year due to taking on a bad hire, and it is a very common mistake. In fact, 74% of employers admit to hiring the wrong person for a position at some point in their careers. In a traditional setting, this might be more streamlined and easier to orchestrate in person. But the circumstances and realities of the situation certainly change a bit for those working remotely.
With that being said, know that offboarding is not always about getting fired; it is related to people quitting too. So, whether you are looking to terminate someone remotely for the first time or are covering your bases in case you have to address someone leaving in the future, below contains some helpful guidance and tips you can follow to make the process as seamless, professional, and stress-free as you can.
According to Aberdeen, only 29% of organizations have a formal employee exiting process. If you are part of the statistic that does not have one set in stone, then this should be the first thing you need to nail down as soon as possible. Not having one can make your business operations look sloppy and not as professional, which can hinder your workplace competitiveness in the long run. What does it do?
√ Mitigates security risks
√ Prevents legal issues
√ Manages logistical challenges
√ Help you part ways with the employee on the best possible terms.
The fact of the matter is that the process is not done when you terminate someone, both in person or remotely. They need to return company-issued resources, handing their ID badge, and must be taken out of the payroll/benefit system, all while still managing the morale of the team upon the termination. Without a transparent process in place, the important steps can fall through the cracks and can quite easily damage working relationships.
The Remote Offboarding Process Checklist
If you are terminating someone, then make sure you have all the necessary documentation and proof to back up your decision to fire them either via phone or during a virtual meeting. Ask them to mail back any company-issued resources if applicable. If you leave on a bad note and they refuse to give it back, you can always deduct the cost of the items they have from their final paycheck or sue them. Finally, make sure that your IT and HR team are on standby to lock out that said employee from vital documentation, email systems and are ready to change any passwords to block them from accessing online areas. You never know what a terminated employee might lash out and do they still have access to your data after being fired.
Alternatively, if someone handed in their signed resignation letter, then the next thing you need to do for that is to schedule an exit interview with them remotely. This is where they can discuss more details as to why they are leaving and provide feedback on things you could work on to make the remote working experience better for employees. You will still need to remove them from payroll and lock them out of data access, but this can be done on their last day and not instantly like you would a termination.
Next, you will want to notify your team that someone was removed or is leaving the company in the near future. This is where your existing employees can raise concerns about spreading the upped workload and ask questions that you can answer as long as it does not hinder confidentiality. If the person is quitting and put in a 2-week notice, then this is also a great time to see if others would be willing to shadow the person leaving so they can pick up on the duties when they are gone.
Tip: Have the employee leaving create a checklist of all their tasks and day to day duties so you can see what their full workload entails and what you can pass onto other team members until you can find a replacement. This includes passwords, account lists, procedural notes, etc.
Again, if you are terminating, you will want to prepare the paperwork ahead of time before you communicate with the employee being let go. But in the case of a person quitting, you can make this step three. For this, you will need to review any contracts and NDAs, prepare the compensation, tax documents, and benefits to reflect that the person will no longer be with the company after a certain date. You will also need to process any reimbursements for bonuses or paid time off not used and have that ready to review with the employee during the exit interview that should already be scheduled.
Things like parking permits, uniforms, and door badges might not be applicable for a remote employee, but you will want to list any other things they should hand in before leaving. These things can include:
· Company laptops, as noted above
· Mobile phones
· Company credit cards
· VPN tokens
These are items that you may or may not have handed out. But if you did, ensure you get them back in a timely manner. Those are company assets and can be reused for the next person coming in to fill the role.
Tying up the offboarding process for a terminated employee might be more cut and drier, but for those who are quitting, make sure they leave on a positive note. Though you will need to process things like email redirection, password changes, removing them from calendars and the company organization chart, etc., still make time to have their last day be special. Some ways you can do that could be to host a virtual "going away" event for them including your entire team. You can also send them a thank you card in the mail for their support while working with you, or even a personalized gift. Employees, even ones that are leaving, will be grateful for the appreciation and gestures, all of which will leave them with a positive outlook for your company culture and brand image.
Termination or addressing a resignation from an employee moving on to something else is never a fun feeling to have to address. Just about any business owner dreads having to go through the offboarding process and would much rather have a high retention rate instead. However, it is something that does happen, and it is something that you should be prepared for, whether your employees are remote or not. Sure, remote employees leaving the company might be more challenging, but it doesn’t have to be with the right exiting process set in place to follow.
As a final note, take the time to format a written process if you have not done so already. Doing so will inevitably give everyone involved a better foundation and smooth experience from start to finish. Overall, no, offboarding might not be part of your job description you like to handle, but it is necessary. And being fully prepared to handle it remotely is the very thing that will help you and your business succeed in leaving no stone unturned.