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Employee Leaver Checklist

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You may have been caught off-guard when your treasured, tenured employee approached you with her head (assume he if you like – Ed) hung low and turned in that dreaded two-week notice. Now you’re scrambling to fill her shoes before she walks out the door. Read on for help in making this transition as smooth and stress-free as possible. Based on your conversation with the employee, you should be able to ascertain how helpful she’ll be in preparing for her departure. If she comes to you with a friendly face and thanks you for the opportunities she’s been given, you can probably count on her for a productive last couple of weeks. But if she storms into your office in a mad rage, you may need to hold an emergency team meeting to sort out what responsibilities you can proactively take from her as soon as possible. Whatever the circumstances, remain as professional as possible and avoid burning bridges and refer to this employee leaver checklist as a reminder of what to do.

  • When an employee leaves, you’re faced with the obvious problem of having fewer resources to achieve the same amount of work. Consider whether you’ll be hiring an individual externally to fill the vacancy or whether a current staffer might be a good fit for a transfer or promotion. If the latter, you may still need to consider bringing someone else on board to take over the transferred staffer’s former role.
  • If the departing worker has given notice far in advance, you may have time to hire and train a replacement before that last day. Regardless of the timeframe, if you do plan to hire someone to fill those shoes, begin the process as soon as possible. It often takes several months to find the right fit, depending on the job. Review the job description, make any needed updates, and begin posting it. Your website, local job listings, Craigslist, and various career search websites are great starting points. Don’t forget about physical job boards in prominent, heavily-trafficked areas in the community.
  • Meet with the employee to go through her duties and ensure that everything is covered. Then, ask the employee to make a list of these and the steps involved in each one, including important standard operating procedures. She should rank these by priority to give you a firm grasp on the items that are most crucial for another worker to take over.
  • Until you secure a replacement, you need a plan to divide and conquer these duties through your existing workforce. Starting with the highest priority items, identify a staffer whose skills and job responsibilities are the best match. Perhaps you’ll decide on one staffer or a group of two or three people who fit the bill.
  • Meet with these employees to approach the subject of taking on additional responsibilities, and frame it as a new opportunity for growth. Depending on the level of commitment the new duties will entail, you may need to offer incentives. For example, if your departing worker managed staff and you’ve identified someone qualified for this step up, a promotion and raise are certainly appropriate. Do remember that with strained resources, you might not be able to cover all job responsibilities with your remaining staff before you hire a replacement. Don’t place unrealistic expectations on them.
  • Ask the leaving employee to train and review the work of those taking over her duties. The employee should allow her replacement(s) to shadow him or her on the job, observing tasks and helping craft documents or e-mails. By the second week, the employee should start handing these responsibilities over to other staffers and checking over their work.
  • Alert other staff and departments who frequently work with the leaving worker to the change. Let them know who will be taking over and where they can go with questions or requests.
  • Make sure that any important contacts outside of the company, like clients or vendors, are introduced by the departing staffer to the person who will be taking over as the point person. This will make the transition less jarring for them than if they suddenly received a phone call from an unfamiliar voice.
  • Cover all your bases with the paperwork. Notify the employee of her termination of benefits and rights under COBRA, if applicable, and arrange for final pay (which may include paying out unused vacation time). Double check that the employee’s contact information on file is correct and updated for any future correspondence and for sending W-2 forms the following year.
  • Make sure all of the employee’s accounts and security codes are closed out or canceled on her last day and that all of her company equipment (computer, vehicles, etc.) are accounted for.
  • Conduct an exit interview, either written or in person. Find out what the employee loved about working with you, what she would have changed, and even what might have made her stay. Her feedback could be invaluable for how you handle future staffers.
  • Finally, no matter how difficult her departure may be for the company, wish her well in her new adventures. You never know when this positive working relationship will come in handy down the road!

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