Terminating an employee is never a fun experience for anyone involved. However, if the decision has been made to terminate an employee, then it should be done in a way that is respectful, while still protecting the company and company information.
Before the Termination
Knowing how to handle an employee termination is critical to ensuring that company information and data stays confidential and properly secure. If your human resources department does not already have one, then you should create an employee termination procedure checklist. This checklist and policy should be thorough and included in the employee handbook.
Always have a plan for how the termination will be carried out—the day, time and the business rationale that will be used to explain to the employee. The transition should be carried out in such a way that it does the least damage to both the company and colleagues. Have an outline of the conversation to make sure that all the key points are discussed. Plan to revoke access to company information during the termination meeting.
During the Termination Process
Once termination has been expressed to the employee, the first step should be retrieving company property. This should include keys to the building, any electronics, such as computers and phones, all files related to any projects that employee had access to, a company vehicle, company credit card, etc. Be sure to ask the employee if they have any company property at home that needs to be returned as well. The employee should be escorted back to their desk and a supervisor should wait while they collect any personal items. Accompany them to the door, shake their hand, and wish them well. If the employee asks to retrieve any personal files from computers, etc., tell them that your IT personnel will remove those files from their equipment and provide the files to the terminated employee.
Immediately After Termination
The second step is to make sure the employee’s email and access to the internal company computer network are shut down. This prevents the employee from stealing any information from the company. Any external vendor accounts the employee had access to should have the passwords changed. Remote access should also be shut down for that employee.
The employee’s name should be removed from any company letterhead, stationary, emails, and/or websites following the termination. In addition, the employee should be removed from payroll and all records for that employee should be updated. The IT department should ensure that all particularly sensitive data, records and other materials are preserved.
While unpleasant, ensuring that all of these safeguards are in place prior to and during the employee termination process can help make the situation go a little more smoothly.
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