This section discusses the process and procedures related to when an employee decides to end their employment with your organization. Unlike in a termination where the employee may or may not have notice in advance of their departure, employee-initiated resignations or retirements mean the organization has time to prepare and ensure a smooth transition of information, projects and relationships. This process of ensuring a smooth transition, organizational stability and supporting the final stage of an employee’s life cycle is called offboarding.
Offboarding leads to the formal separation between an employee and employer, and involves not only exit interviews and feedback opportunities – which are discussed below – but also transferring the employee’s workload while you hire their replacement; initiating final pay and payouts (e.g., vacation, benefits, overtime); turning in equipment, tools and keys; deactivating access rights and passwords; etc.
With both onboarding and offboarding, the more time and care you take with these processes, the better experience your employees will have. Departing employees do not want to end their last day feeling unappreciated, nor do they want to receive an email two weeks later asking for their office keys. An effective offboarding process supports the organization’s reputation, improves your employee’s working experience, and helps build advocates for the organization.
This section reviews some of the key steps to supporting an employee and your organization in ending employment.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please consult your Engagement Partner.
TYPES OF REASONS
RESIGNATION OR RETIREMENT
- The senior leader/Executive Director must submit to the board Chair an Employee Resignation & Retirement Confirmation Letter indicating their proposed last date of work.
- Set up a meeting with the board Chair to discuss the employee’s intentions and collectively determine a last date. In most cases, it is expected that senior leaders/Executive Directors would give a minimum notice of four (4) weeks, sometimes more, to ensure a smooth transition.
FUNDING CAME TO AN END / ROLE NO LONGER NEEDED
- In the unlikely chance that the Employer determines they no longer require the senior leader/Executive Director, the Employer is required to provide written notice. Follow the notice requirements in accordance with the Employment Standards Act.
- Using the same template for a not for cause termination, you can outline the terms of the termination, end date of employee agreement and whether the employee is being given a working notice or pay in lieu of notice (severance).
- For more information on terminations not for cause, see the Discipline & Termination section.
- Employers often give a more generous notice period for senior leaders/Executive Directors than what is outlined in the Employment Standards Act in recognition of the challenge it will be to find an equivalent position in the market.
- Sometimes the notice is a combination of working notice and pay in lieu of notice to ensure adequate time for the senior leader/Executive Director to prepare for a smooth transition.
TERMINATION WITH CAUSE / WITHOUT CAUSE
- Follow the procedures for termination with or without cause as per the Discipline & Termination section.
- When a board terminates a senior leader/Executive Director with or without cause, they often do not have (or sometimes do not allow for) a lot of transition time to do the offboarding process. In these instances, board members will need to be organized and have to complete the offboarding checklists without the participation and/or cooperation of the employee.
ADMINISTRATIVE & OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
- The board Chair or the HR Committee will need to be assigned or assign someone to help facilitate the offboarding process.
- Working with the departing senior leader/Executive Director, the Offboarding Lead will be required to initiate the offboarding procedures to ensure a smooth transition for the senior leader/Executive Director and the organization.
- A meeting with the departing senior leader/Executive Director and the board, board Chair, and/or HR Committee will need to be arranged to ensure the departing senior leader/Executive Director understands the final terms of their employment, and that administrative and operational loose ends are addressed. Use the Ending Employment Checklist to guide the discussion.
- Using the Internal Ending Employment Checklist, the board Chair will also need to work with staff members and/or consultants to ensure individuals are assigned to support the internal offboarding activities that are critical, such as:
- Transferring the employee’s workload
- Initiating final pay and payouts (e.g., vacation, benefits, overtime)
- Submitting a Record of Employment (ROE)
- Turning in equipment, tools and keys
- Deactivating access rights, passwords, etc.
- Sending out communications regarding the change in staffing to internal and external stakeholders
- Conducting an exit interview
- In anticipation of the departure of a senior leader/Executive Director, the board will be responsible for supporting a transition plan in anticipation of a new person filling the role.
- In advance of the senior leader/Executive Director’s departure, they should be asked to prepare a transition document that outlines key information that will support the board and the next incumbent in the transition. Elements to include in the transition document are:
- Project descriptions and status reports
- Key stakeholder contact information
- Password information
- Description of filing system
- List of important documents, including bylaws, contract agreements, the strategic plan and the updated budget
- Calendar of upcoming events and deadlines
- The senior leader/Executive Director should review this document with the board Chair, HR Committee or Offboarding Lead to allow for questions and an opportunity to seek further clarification.
- Should there not be an overlap between the outgoing and incoming senior leader/Executive Director, an interim plan will need to be established. Interim measures can include:
- Appointing an existing staff person to fill the Executive Director role on an Interim or Acting basis.
- Hiring an Interim senior leader/Executive Director. There are agencies who can support you in finding a suitable candidate.
- Appointing a board member to step into the role and supervise staff on an interim basis.
- Offering employees the opportunity to have an exit interview is part of organizational best practice. Employees are the main drivers of organizational success, so it is important to learn from them – why they stay, why they leave, what changes need to be made – to continue to grow.
- Below are five (5) main objectives of an exit interview:
- Uncover issues relating to HR
- Understand employee’s perception of the work
- Gain insight into managers’ leadership styles and effectiveness
- Foster innovation by asking about areas for improvement
- Create lifelong advocates for the organization
- To conduct an exit interview:
- Identify a neutral person to lead the meeting with the employee. Ideally the exit interview will be led by someone like an HR Manager or the senior leader at a partnering Division.
- Ask if the employee would like to have the exit interview conducted in person, over the phone or via email.
- If the employee would prefer to do it via email, you can send the list of questions to the employee for them to fill out and return.
- The person conducting the exit interview will be responsible for identifying key themes that were revealed through the interview, protecting the interests of the departing employee and following up on any matters that were significant and may require investigation.