Why you need an exit checklist

Friday June 2, 2023

Processing employees that leave your company demands thorough attention through the use of an exit checklist. Also known as a leaver’s checklist, it is a list of all the actions you need to take whenever someone resigns or is made redundant from your organisation.

An exit checklist makes it easy for HR and management to reference everything that has been done and everything else that has yet to be done before an employee officially no longer works for a company. Knowing exactly what tasks to complete ensures the process goes smoothly, and it can even benefit companies in the long run.

The Importance of an Exit Checklist

One of the primary purposes of having an exit checklist is that it provides an orderly structure to the offboarding process.

It is not uncommon for people to leave a company. In repeating this procedure of employee offboarding, there is the danger that it may feel tedious. The departing employee may also just want to get through the whole ordeal as fast as possible. Complacency sets in, and important steps get skipped.

There is grave danger to allowing complacency when handling leavers.

Workflows get disrupted, with the departing employee being unsure of or totally ignorant of what they have to formally do in this transitionary period. Departments are left hanging with gaps in the organisational structure. Knowledge and responsibilities don’t get transferred properly or not at all.

Company policies and safety measures can be overlooked, putting people at risk of breaching contracts or literally in harm’s way in hazardous jobs. Company assets may even be compromised without doing the due diligence that an exit checklist facilitates. From physical property such as access cards and company-issued phones to proprietary knowledge such as security codes and product prototypes, these can all fall in the wrong hands and jeopardise your business.

Aside from acting as a safeguard, an exit checklist can also provide valuable information. You can gather feedback from departing employees about their time with the company. You can also gauge their reactions from undergoing the offboarding process as well to see how successful it is. The insights you gain can then be used to improve employee management and company policies in general.

What Should Be on Your Exit Checklist

Now that we’ve established why it’s so important to have an exit checklist, we can go over the four major areas that your list needs to cover.

1. Paperwork

The first step to take once an employee has either handed in their resignation letter or is let go is to process all the necessary paperwork. Resignations should be accepted with a written acceptance letter.

Payroll needs to be informed of the employee’s departure, as fees, reimbursements, and the last paycheck need to be processed. This also involves preparing the exiting employee’s P45, which is for reporting their income and tax deductions to HMRC so that they are taxed properly.

You should also review with the employee their relevant employment contract terms such as non-compete, non-disclosure, and confidentiality agreements, as well as penalties if these are breached.

2. Knowledge Transfer

Departing employees, especially those in managerial positions, have to share their knowledge of how they’ve done their job successfully to whoever will be taking over their duties.

Everything that is required for the position must be transferred to the successor such as workflow processes. Whatever training is necessary can be done in the lead-up to the employee’s departure, if they are available. Documents that the replacement needs for the job, along with all the files the team or department needs, should also be turned over to the relevant people.

Updates on the current status of ongoing projects and outstanding tasks need to be relayed to everyone that will be affected by the employee’s departure.

3. Company Property

Every piece of company property needs to be collected from the departing employee before they leave on their last day of work.

Mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and flash drives that have been provided by the company explicitly for business use should be returned, as these devices may contain sensitive information or can be used to access the company’s private network.

Employee IDs,, uniforms, keys and entry passes should be returned before the employee leaves the premises for the last time.

Your IT team must also be given notice to revoke access to the employee’s company email, internal internet, and any other workplace software.

4. Exit Interview

Finally, you can either conduct a face-to-face interview with the employee and an HR staff member, or have the employee fill out a questionnaire. Whichever method you choose, you want to be able to get as clear a picture as possible about what the employee truly thinks about the company. Guarantee that their identity will remain confidential and their reputation won’t be at stake so that they are more likely to speak freely.

The key questions to include in the interview or questionnaire should revolve around the employee’s experience with their role, and if they’re resigning, why they chose to leave. What was the deciding factor for leaving? If they already have another job lined up, what enticed them to take it?

Another important line of questioning would be about their thoughts on your company. What did they like about working for you? What improvements can be made? Do they have any final words they would like to share about the company?

An Employee Exit Checklist is Essential

An employee leaving your company should be treated with as much rigour as hiring an employee. Measures must be put in place for continuity and security, and an exit checklist helps ensure these goals are accomplished. Implement an exit checklist into your employee offboarding process with the help of HR Dept. We provide a full suite of support services for resignations, dismissals, and redundancies.

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