Two coworkers shaking hands in a bright, open office.
Before your departing employee leaves your office for the last time, make sure you've collected any company property that the employee was using during their tenure. — Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

When an employee resigns from their job, it’s essential for a business owner or their HR manager to take certain steps to ensure a smooth transition. Have this checklist handy for the next time you have an employee leave your company.

An employer’s checklist for exiting employees

If an employee has given sufficient notice of their intent to quit, plan to complete the following items during their final week(s) on the job.

1. Obtain a resignation letter and fulfill your legal requirements.

Employers need a resignation letter on file so the employee can’t claim they were terminated. This can be a short confirmation of departure in writing that is signed and dated by the departing employee.

Additionally, business owners or their HR managers must note the items the departing employee will take with them, such as their last paycheck and statement-of-benefits packet. This includes COBRA, benefits end date/payouts, unemployment eligibility, and other relevant documents.

Depending on the state, there are different dates for when an employee’s last paycheck is due. For instance, in California, you must give a departing employee their last paycheck (with all accrued wages) within 72 hours of quitting without notice — and on their last day if they give proper notice.

[Read more: Everything You Need to Know When an Employee Files for Unemployment]

2. Develop a plan to shift the employee’s responsibilities.

When one employee leaves, it can create a ripple effect on the entire company, causing business owners to shift the dynamic of the workplace. Talk with the employee’s direct supervisor, coworkers, and employees (if applicable) to determine who will handle that person’s job duties.

Many business owners or managers choose to temporarily shift responsibilities until they hire a replacement, while others make permanent changes by promoting an existing worker or changing their job title and duties.

3. Conduct an exit interview.

Conducting an exit interview when an employee quits can give you valuable insight. For instance, if the departing employee left because of a toxic work environment, they might express this now that they no longer work for the business. This can help managers learn how to improve their company culture and make any necessary changes to avoid losing more employees.

During an exit interview, consider asking the following questions:

  • What was your overall experience with the company?
  • How might we improve the company for future employees?
  • What are your reasons for leaving?
  • What did you like most about the company and your job?
  • What could we have done differently to improve your experience?
  • What was your relationship like with your manager?
  • Were your goals and expectations met? If not, how might we have supported you better?

When one employee leaves, it can create a ripple effect on the entire company.

4. Schedule IT access restrictions and collect any company property on their last day.

On your employee’s last day, collect any company property and restrict their access to company logins and software. Some examples of physical and nonphysical items you must collect include:

  • Email accounts.
  • Company software.
  • Company laptop/phone.
  • Office keycard.
  • Passwords.
  • Client information.
  • Uniforms.
  • Company credit cards.

[Read more: Firing an Employee? Here's What to Do Next]

5. Announce the employee’s departure.

Aside from the person’s direct team, other important people — such as customers, clients, and vendors — may need to know about the employee’s exit and who will take over their responsibilities.

Be careful how you communicate the employee’s departure. Don’t provide any private information — only share what the employee is comfortable sharing — and relay the news in a respectful way, even if the employee isn’t leaving on the best terms. You may communicate this information in a small meeting, company-wide email, or both, but make sure to time it right. For instance, you’ll want to let your departing employee’s direct team know before you inform the rest of the company.

After relaying the news, discuss with your team how you will proceed without this employee, communicating any shifts in responsibilities and a timeline of hiring a new employee (if applicable).

What if an employee quits without notice?

If an employee quits unexpectedly and without notice, you may not have time to complete all of the above steps before their last day. In this case, it’s advisable to do as many items from this checklist as possible in a timely manner. If you’re concerned about collecting things like a resignation letter and company property, it may be wise to speak with an HR or legal professional to understand your options.

[Read more: How to Legally Fire an Employee]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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