Facing the Risks of Departing Employees

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December 22, 2021
Author: Ben Halverson
Organization: Lorman Education Service

Let's face it, employees will eventually leave. However, when an employee leaves your company, you're not always done with them. In fact, in some cases, an employee leaving your company can pose substantial risk to the company as a whole. To protect yourself and your company, make sure you're following these key steps to protect company assets, privacy, and more. 

1. Create a Solid, Enforceable Noncompete Contract

When an employee leaves your business, you do not want them to take confidential information straight to one of your competitors. Often, companies design noncompete agreements that are intended to help protect the business as much as possible. These agreements might limit an employee's ability to work for a competitor or start their own business similar to yours in the immediate geographic area. While these agreements are valid, it's important to carefully consider how restrictive they are. Most of the time, judges will overturn noncompete agreements that are seen as "excessively restrictive." Keep in mind that if they leave your company, your employees still have to be able to make a living for themselves, and write your agreements accordingly. 

2. Provide an Escort

If an employee quits or is fired suddenly, make sure they have an escort while they're on the grounds. Sometimes, employees may grow upset because their contract has ended--or they might choose to quit abruptly and take action that they wouldn't take in a better frame of mind. As the employer, you want to be sure that your former employee doesn't do excessive damage on their way out the door. If needed, provide a security escort while they gather their things and leave the premises. 

3. Check the Computer

Your employee's computer is their gateway into a large quantity of private information straight from your company. It may include client data, important information about your products, or other sensitive information that you don't want employees to take with them when they leave. If you have an employee leave unexpectedly, have a forensic specialist examine the machine to make sure they didn't email themselves private documents or save private company data to a flash drive on their way out. You should also make sure that the tech team shuts down the user's email and removes their account or changes the password to any important programs to prevent the user from logging in from outside the company. 

4. Decide How You Want to Handle Employees Giving Notice

Does your employee handbook require that employees give two week's notice before leaving for another job? Make sure you have a solid idea of what your handbook says and how you should enforce those policies. If you require notice before an employee leaves, for example, you may need to either allow them to work for that notice period or pay out that period even if the employee does not come in to work, if you choose to have them leave. You also want to be sure that you get notice that an employee is leaving in writing, if at all possible. 

5. Boost Morale When Needed

In some cases, an employee leaving the workplace may end with a substantial dip in morale, especially if the employee was well-liked or took care of vital tasks that you don't have someone else trained to take care of. This dip in morale for remaining employees, including managers, can lead to substantially decreased productivity during a period when you may be short an employee or struggling to train someone to take over the role. Take steps, where possible, to boost morale. Talk to employees. Discover what they need to feel appreciated and supported during this time period. Take the time to thank employees who have shown exemplary work, for example, or to offer support to employees who may have taken on more tasks. If you notice a mass exodus of employees, it may be time to sit down and discuss what the remaining employees need to convince them to remain with the company, from more benefits or less travel to a raise. 

When employees leave your company, it's important to carefully consider the risks that go along with it--and to take steps to minimize those risks whenever possible. With these key steps, however, you can minimize risks and help your company survive the loss of even well-respected employees. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with employee retention and other challenges.

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