Offboarding, Firing an Employee, What’s the Difference?
There’s a big difference - and in these times - an important one. In the good old days, if an employee came to his boss and said I am going to leave the company and work someplace else, quite often the employee was immediately escorted to the door by security - all the way to their car! It might be nice to keep doing that, but it certainly is not the best practice - especially if this is an employee you value. There are several reasons; 1. It’s certainly not what the other employees need to see. 2. You might want the employee to think kindly enough of you that they would come back to work for you in the future. 3. You need the public to see your company as a kinder, more compassionate place to work. There are times when you need to fire an employee. Whether as a result of progressive discipline or a gross dereliction of duty, they have to go. You don’t want them back, you don’t even want to see them again - ever! That doesn’t mean that you don’t treat that person with dignity and compassion. Here are the steps you can follow:
Will you need security during this? Will the person you’re firing need a ride home because they car pool? Do you have a private place to do this?
Yes, it is very important. Does this person know why they are being fired? It is important that not only do you make sure they are clear, but that they indicate that they understand by signing off on the interview - and if they refuse to sign - another supervisor who is sitting in on the interview signs a statement saying the reason for the firing was discussed.
When will they get their final paycheck? You will mail it - no reason for the employee (former) to return to your place of business. Be sure they get a COBRA letter. If they have uniforms to turn in, send someone for them.
Get their stuff
Have them turn in their keys, and any company owned equipment, credit cards, ID badges, etc.
Pack their personal stuff
You can have someone do this while the employee is in the exit interview, but they need to check what’s packed to be sure everything is there.
Walk them to their car, shake their hand, wish them the best - don’t say you’re sorry this happened, or that you regret it!
It is not bad manners to announce in an email that this person has left the company - no need to go into details, of course, but everyone needs to know that person is no longer employed there.
There’s another side to offboarding that needs to be handled even more carefully. If you are losing an employee you valued - to another company, moving, whatever - you really need to give them a good send-off. Because in these days of low employment rates, you might want them to come back! Your offboarding list in this case should start with the exit interview. Don’t let this slide! You’ll learn the most amazing things. During the interview, be sure to get their stuff and have them sign off on the interview. If you don’t have a standard exit interview, there are good ones free on the internet. Your other employees need to know that this person is leaving. A nice going away coffee in the office is all you need to do. If the fellow employees want to do more, that’s up to them and after hours. A company wide email saying they have left the company is important in order to be sure everyone knows that employee no longer works there. Step 3 is the same for everyone. Be sure they get a COBRA letter. Step 6 is also the same - walk out with them, shake their hand and wish them well. Step 7 - go back to your office and gnash your teeth over your loss! How you treat a person who is leaving - voluntarily or not - reflects on your company and on you as an employer. Handled with grace and compassion, even getting fired can be a learning experience for an employee.