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What to Do When Letting an Employee Go

Jan 16 2018

When you wrote down your goals for 2018, “experiencing what it’s like to let an employee go” probably didn’t fall in your top ten. In fact, it wasn’t on the list at all.

Let’s be real: you didn’t go into business to fire. You want to hire, hire, hire. Unfortunately, letting employees go – because of their own choices or unfortunate company conditions – is often part of the gig. And from an IT perspective, certain steps must be taken, regardless of your emotions.

So we pulled together advice from the Worksighted team on how company technology should be handled when letting an employee go, tips that will help you navigate an often complex, details-centric situation.

A notification you actually can’t turn off, ignore, or completely dismiss

When an employee is being let go, the information must be shared beyond the walls of human resources.

In other words, notify IT when “the meeting” is about to occur. Promptly. Not after a Starbucks run. Not after a stroll down Facebook-suggested memory lane.  Think as soon as you know it’s a done deal.

“Communication is critical – communicate what we are going to do. Do it. Confirm that we did it,”  Ken Serrell, Worksighted Network Operations Manager,  said. “A sense of urgency is critical, speed and execution must be a priority.”

Worksighted Director of Managed Services, Jason Ward, recommends enforced policies that clearly state who is to notify whom when employment ends. They should articulate when and who notifications are sent to so all departments can take appropriate action.

These communication policies can ensure little things, tasks that may fall in between departments, don’t get missed.

“Security badges, keys, and building codes are things that are often overlooked,” Craig Stockman, Systems Engineer at Worksighted said. “Those systems may not be managed by an IT employee, but it’s very important.”

If you could go ahead and give that back, that would be great

After the notifications are sent out, it’s time for the IT equivalent of a bounty hunter to set in motion. Except you don’t get any money or your own TV show for recovering it. We’re talking about getting back records and technology and intellectual property.

“There should be an immediate revocation of access and preservation of any records that the company may need now or for future retrieval (immediate computer, network, remote and data access removal),” Ward said. “Policies should include retrieval of company-owned technology and intellectual property – when/if possible, receive signatures that the equipment has been returned.”

You’ve got mail, but you’ve got a problem

Most employees have an email address so you can’t avoid this one. Unfortunately, companies often struggle here because they are indecisive, or they simply lack a policy outlining company-approved transition options for email accounts.

Questions inevitably arise. Should they keep the old emails? How about using an OOTO message on the old account? Thoughts on a shared mailbox? Or can they keep the mailbox open and give another user full access to that mailbox?

“All options have pros and cons,” Cody Zink, Field Engineer at Worksighted, said. “This can change from employee to employee so it’s good for decision makers to have a list of the few main options to choose from.”

Don’t forget to remove the terminated employee from general email distribution lists – think “all staff”- and specialized email distribution lists, according to Delcor, a technology consulting firm. Do ensure someone replaces them on the distribution lists so future messages are received and monitored.

Ward added the appropriate termination forms should determine who is responsible for custodianship of rights (manager or co-worker level) to things such as email, Dropbox or file shares.

No offense passwords, it’s time for a change

Passwords are everywhere these days, especially at work, which makes an employee termination extra tricky. Due to this complexity, companies must realize password changes are a necessity, not optional. You don’t want former employees conducting business as usual because you were unaware or too lazy to make changes.

“Priority 1 is eliminating the risk to the company,” Ken Serrell said. “It needs to be a clean break to protect assets.”

Consider Lieberman Software’s 2014 Information Security Survey, where 13 percent of respondents said they could still access systems at previous employers by using old credentials. Some could even log in to systems of two or more previous employers.

Ward suggests, at a minimum, password changes to accounts with enhanced permissions, shared accounts, and WiFi that the employee may have been associated with or had access to.

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Worksighted Team

We are a team of over-enthusiastic people, ready to help our clients utilize technology to spur growth! We love technology and come to work every day eager to solve problems and find ways to impact our clients.