Every time an employee leaves your company, whether it was their decision to leave or yours, you risk potential security breaches, theft, or other unethical behaviours that can bring harm to your organization. In some cases, this is unpreventable. For example, in today's economy, it's nearly impossible to expect that employees won't have any company information saved on their home computer. There are, however, measures you can take before-hand and during the off-boarding process that will help you ensure your company's secrets and assets remain safe.
Preparing Before Hand
Hire Right. It sounds a little too proactive to think about how you'll deal with somebody's leaving before you even hire them, but ensuring your future employees are completely ethical reduces risk through their entire term with the company. Watch for flags, such as the person offering up information they kept from their past employer (your competitor).
Set expectations early. Your employee manual should include specific policies, such as what is acceptable to take out of the office and what needs to be returned at the end of employment. Avoid leaving any grey area. For example, a Graphic Designer may want to keep work they create for your company to include in their portfolio. Ensure they know up-front if this is acceptable.
Sign confidentiality agreements. Often times, to enforce these will cost more in legal fees than they're worth, but they ensure you communicate the policy and can set the tone in showing you're serious about confidentiality.
Use password management tools. There are many tools available that let you manage all logins and passwords used in your company, as well as who can access specific ones. By leveraging these tools, it makes revoking access and changing passwords a much more manageable process.
Avoid having disgruntled departing employees. Treat employees with respect while they're working for you, and they'll treat your company with respect after they leave. If you have to terminate employment, do so with tact and let them keep their dignity.
When They Leave
Schedule an Exit Interview. If you have notice that the person is leaving, schedule an exit interview where you can review the procedures for leaving. It's also an opportunity to discuss any unique accounts they may have access to and ensure they've passed off all necessary login information.
Take back what's yours. There are many items you'll want to make sure you have back from an employee before they leave. They're all obvious, but it's easy to forget a couple things especially if there is commotion around the employee's departure. Create a checklist of what you'll need; for example, mobile devices, computers, discs and USBs, keys, pass cards, etc.
Close off email. Email accounts should be closed down, although in many cases, they need to remain open because the past-employee could still be receiving messages from clients. In this situation, ensure all passwords for that email account are changed immediately.
Change passwords and PINs. Everything needs to be changed. If you use a password management tool as described above, this can be much easier.
Create out-of-office messages. For both email and voicemail, set out-of-office notifications notifying any clients or business partners that the employee is no longer with your company. This is not only good communication, but it also prevents a past employee from acting as though they still work for you.
Most people who leave your company will be ethical and the issues mentioned above are irrelevant. But for that minority, you can never be too prepared. When employees leave the company on bad terms and have a higher chance retaliating, it's important to act on these as quickly as possible. What extra measures do you take? Have you ever had a past employee act unethically after they leave? Let us know below.