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How to securely off-board an employee in 4 simple steps


Companies focus a tremendous amount of time and energy on recruiting processes, onboarding procedures and new hire checklists, but securely off-boarding departing workers often fails to get the same attention. Every off-boarding process should include these four elements to ensure you’re protected from a technical and legal standpoint.

Step 1: Prepare your paperwork

Even with short notice, a manager and/or a human resources (HR) representative should have ample time to organize legal documents for the employee to sign before leaving. The supervisor should also be sure to review insurance continuation or COBRA, emergency contact information and other benefits administration items with the employee. We recommend preparing a centralized checklist to keep track of all documents and their locations so nothing is overlooked.

Step 2: Secure your network

There are countless horror stories of the damage disgruntled employees cause. A single angry worker could cripple or even take down an entire organization. According to Wired.com, “19 percent of employees in an office setting would take company information like customer data, price lists or product plans with them if they knew they were about to be terminated.” What’s more, 16 percent of workers have been able to gain access to user accounts associated with their former employers because the credentials were not changed after their departure.

All efforts should be made to ensure critical passwords are updated either as soon as the employee leaves the company or, in some instances, during the termination meeting. In certain cases, an IT representative may need to be informed of an employee’s impending termination prior to the meeting. This way, accounts can be locked before the terminated employee has any opportunity to wreak havoc. If you are using a managed services provider, give the provider advanced notice so you can collaborate on the timing of password changes. As you build your termination checklist, make a point to include a list of all user accounts associated with your organization’s computers, software and websites. Because different employees utilize different tools, keep a master list of all potentially accessible areas to verify nothing is forgotten during the lock down process.

It's time to get serious about cybersecurity

Step 3: Take care of physical security

The third step in your termination checklist pertains to physical security. For instance, any keys associated with your offices or buildings should be retrieved from the employee. If the employee is unable to provide them, every key fob should be deactivated immediately and, if necessary, call a locksmith to change the locks. If the employee is familiar with your alarm system, change the access code to that as well. If applicable, notify staff in the building’s security office of the employment change.

If any physical property is on loan to the employee, make sure it is returned or a plan to return it is included in the termination agreement. Some examples of items that may be in the employee’s possession include:

  • Laptops or tablets
  • Equipment or tools
  • Company-paid cellphones
  • Flash drives or portable data
  • Company credit cards
  • Personal loans or paycheck advances

Step 4: Conduct an exit interview

Once checklists and documentation have been prepared, it’s time to conduct a meeting with the employee. When an employee is voluntarily departing, include an exit interview as part of the termination meeting, as taking the time to evaluate why a good employee has decided to leave is a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow. Understanding what factors were most important in the worker’s decision to leave can be beneficial not only for his or her immediate supervisor, but for the company as a whole. In addition, be sure to touch upon the company’s compensation, benefits and perks to determine what impact, if any, these have on employee retention. Some examples of other questions to ask include:

  • What did you like most and least about working at the company?
  • How do you feel about the supervision you received?
  • Name three things your supervisor could change to be more effective.
  • Name three things the company could change for the better.
  • Would you work for the company again in the future?

If possible, someone other than the employee’s direct supervisor (perhaps a member of HR) should conduct the exit interview to elicit the most candid responses. Following the interview, this individual may share the results with the leader(s) of the company.

Follow these four steps to facilitate a worry-free and smooth termination. Legal paperwork will be documented, your network will be secure from any nefarious activity and ultimately, the office will be safe.

Photo of MyITPros Controller, Sheridan SteedSheridan Steed, Controller

The purpose of this blog is to answer the questions you ask! For more information around how to keep your business secure, check out our related posts here! To learn more about Sheridan, and the rest of our awesome staff here at MyITpros, visit our team page!

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