Optimizing the employee departure process in a remote environment

Vanessa Nelson

Vanessa Nelson

Vanessa was a member of Payworks’ Human Resources team from 2019-2022. With a holistic and human-centered approach to HR, she added support and value to each employee’s unique experience. Vanessa a été membre de l’équipe des ressources humaines de Payworks de 2019 à 2022. En adoptant une approche globale centrée sur l’humain pour les RH, Vanessa cherchait à soutenir les employés et valoriser leurs expériences uniques.

Whether by policy or preference, remote work is here to stay! Payworks’ #HRFromAfar series leverages the insights of our in-house HR experts to help leaders, fellow HR professionals and Canadian business owners navigate the many unique facets of virtually managing a workforce.

When an organization and an employee part ways, there’s often a relatively-short window of time to wrap up work, transition client relationships and bid a farewell that properly acknowledges their many contributions.

This process can admittedly feel even more rushed and chaotic when the team is working remotely; however, remembering a few simple tips can keep things on track! Here are three points to keep in mind while remotely managing an employee’s departure:

1. Establish timelines, processes and expectations upfront

A quick gathering in the conference room to inform the team of the upcoming departure is off the table; so are in-person account transition meetings. Equipment and keys will need to be returned… but how and when?

Take time to identify the various steps involved in managing an employee’s departure and determine how each one can be taken virtual within the structure of your organization and any gathering limitations that may be in place for your region (ideally well before you need to implement any of them!). Hint: technology is your friend, from video conferencing to electronic signature software; don’t hesitate to engage your IT team for recommendations.

From there, determine the ideal timeline and order for each step to take place based on how they’ll be adapted to a virtual environment. Certain steps may need to happen out of typical order now that they’re no longer happening face-to-face – be flexible.

Once this process is established, make sure to communicate it with the departing employee upfront. Clarity on expectations, timelines and processes is always much appreciated during an otherwise potentially-overwhelming time.

2. Say a goodbye worthy of their service to the team and organization

While this is obviously dependent on the circumstances surrounding the employee’s departure, a positive and meaningful farewell will not only show respect and gratitude for their service; it will also increase the chances of your “alumni” recommending your organization to their contacts in the future.

Unfortunately, it’s much easier for a departing employee to just slip away in a remote work setting, where “last lunches” and a tour of goodbyes around the office aren’t feasible.

Be intentional about carving out both a time and a method of sharing what their work, friendship and support has meant to the team, whether it’s virtual drinks on the last day or collecting written thoughts from a few team members to be presented together.

3. Prioritize the exit interview

It might be tempting to forego a formal exit interview in a remote work environment; however, if remote work is relatively new for your organization, it’s even more important now to seek honest feedback on strengths and opportunities on how to better serve staff, clients and the community. Move the process online and encourage the same candid dialogue as you would in person.

And don’t forget to ask about how the (now former) employee feels about the new remote departure process! Be open to adjusting and improving it based on their experience, especially if they’re the first one to go through it from start to finish.

If managed correctly, a remote departure can run as smoothly and feel as heartfelt as one that takes place in-person. It’s worth the proactive planning to show both the departing employee and those that remain just how appreciated their time and contributions have been.

Seeing is believing!

Curious what better Canadian workforce management looks like in action (and how much time you could reclaim in your day-to-day)? Book a pressure-free, get-to-know you demo today.