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Offboarding: What to do when people quit the farm

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The 6 steps you need to take when someone resigns, retires or is terminated.

We talk about onboarding a lot in the recruitment and HR field, but we talk far less about offboarding. Both are important to your farm’s wellbeing. Getting this right ensures your farm’s safety and reputation.

So what is offboarding, exactly? Offboarding occurs when an employee resigns, retires, or is terminated. This process typically consists of the following steps. Read on to understand the procedure involved in each and why they are important.

Communicate & prepare documentation

Once the exiting employee has informed management of their departure (or they have been terminated), it’s important to be in control of company communication so gossip doesn’t create misinformation. Once all appropriate personnel have been given a heads up, send an email to the entire organization or hold a meeting to inform them. If the employee is being terminated, do not disclose any private information that could harm or humiliate them.
Begin preparation of appropriate documents including a letter of resignation, non-disclosure agreements, and benefits and tax documents. Update external personnel that the exiting employee may have worked with. Create an “out of office” message for those who contact the exiting employee via phone or email and redirect them to the next appropriate person.

Reclaiming farm property

This step involves the return of company property from the exiting individual. Company property in their possession may include a farm-owned vehicle, cell phone or laptop, clothing and merchandise, etc. Inspect these items for damages and fully clean. If this employee has a personal workspace, ensure this is cleaned and prepared for the next employee as well.

Removing access

Removing access to company property includes access to both physical property, online data, and company finances. Work with your network administrator to remove access to company email, software tools, and files or drives. Reclaim keys and badges, and change codes to anything secure such as barns, storage, or offices. Does your exiting employee have a company credit card? Make arrangements to cancel the card or change the number.

Knowledge transfer

Knowledge transfer is important as it makes way for the employee that will eventually replace the one exiting. Create a list of knowledge and key responsibilities that will need to be transferred to a new employee taking the position at hand. Compile documents, accounts, and passwords necessary. Record processes and helpful information. If the exiting employee can conduct replacement training, make arrangements with the new employee when possible.

Final documentation

Close-out any employee benefits by working with your insurance provider and HR staff. Issue the employee’s final paycheck complete with any of the following: unused vacation pay, severance, or unpaid expenses or commission.

Exit Interviews

The exit interview may be the most important and complex part of the offboarding process. Have a candid but formal conversation complete with guided questions relating to the employee’s experience at your farm. Record the details of the interview to continue improvement. Ask the employee to stay in touch if they are leaving on friendly terms.

Read more about conducting a successful exit interview here.

Offboarding can seem like an overwhelming process, but it is something almost every workplace experiences. It doesn’t have to be negative. Putting the right parameters to execute offboarding in place now makes the process streamlined when employees leave.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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