Five essential IT actions to take when an employee leaves your business

Ed Hardie

3rd May 2023

When an employee leaves a business there's a fair bit of administrative work to consider. HR, taxes, organising the return of keys and uniform. Sometimes there's even a leaving do to organise. Amongst all that, it's often easy to miss things, especially when it comes to IT.

The consequences to a bit of IT oversight when it comes to offboarding staff can range from mild inconvenience for the next employee, to full blown disaster and prolonged interruption to business. So it's important to at least get the basics right.

In this post we'll cover five simple actions we think every business should be taking when it's time to say goodbye to a member of staff.

1. Redirect email

The last thing you want is for inbound enquiries to disappear along with your employee. First of all imagine someone leaves and you did nothing. Emails would essentially fall into a black hole, with nobody there to monitor or respond to them. A common solution to this problem is to turn on an auto responder, that informs people the person they're trying to contact no longer works at the company, and to get in touch via alternative means. This approach has its limits though, especially if the employee who's left works in a sales or support role.... You don't want your customers to have to do extra work in order to contact you.

Redirection is the answer then, and there's a couple of different ways it can work. The simplest is to redirect all emails to another employee, this might be another member in the same team in the interim, and then eventually to the replacement. Alternatively, it's also possible to convert an employee's mailbox into a shared mailbox and grant several people access, alerting the whole group to any inbound enquiries. This can help share the burden, and help with handover, because it's possible for a new employee to pick up on ongoing correspondence.

Whatever the best approach is for your company though, just make sure you do something, because we all know how important those inbound enquiries are!

2. Consider shared folders and documents

Sharing folders and documents is common practice in the modern workplace. But, when someone leaves, it's important to consider the impact that could have on your shared documents. Often, when files are shared it's out of necessity, employee A is working on a document, needs input from employee B, shares the file, and all of a sudden this file has become the central place where all employees add info and ideas about a certain topic.

If this file is shared out of employee A's personal shared drive, and they leave, they could potentially leave their co-workers high and dry, without access to documents integral to the running of the business. The same goes for files shared externally. If someone leaves midway through a project, the whole thing could come to a halt if access to vital files is severed.

To combat this problem, the best solution is a bit of organisation. Really, any shared files between employees should be in a company wide resource like SharePoint, where they're not tied to one individual's account. However, when employees of our customers leave, we tend to have a look at their OneDrive usage, and if it's active, we'll find another member of staff to transfer the files and sharing permissions over to, allowing work to carry on as normal.

3. Consider timing and handover

Employees leave organisations for all kinds of reasons, and most of the time it's on good terms, with a notice period in place to allow time to recruit and handover to the next person. In these cases, there's not a lot to consider, other than ensuring that you give whoever is in charge of the IT some notice so they can ensure there's room in the schedule for the onboarding and offboarding work to take place.

Sometimes though, employees and employers can part ways on less than ideal terms, and in these cases it can be prudent to take much quicker and decisive action over their IT access. Disgruntled employees may try to cause disruption on their way out by moving or deleting files. Corporate espionage is a term we've all heard because it happens. Sometimes employees want to steal corporate data, and a lot of the time this happens on their way out.

To be clear, these scenarios are not everyday occurrences for most businesses, but if you were to find yourself in this position, it's likely that you'd want a way to limit any potential damage by severing an employee's IT access quickly. That's why we offer an emergency offboarding service, with the option to freeze, or completely sever an employee's access to their device, files, and emails with urgency.

4. Track down any logins to websites

When an employee leaves, it's common for them to hand in their laptop and their phone, and then on their last day IT will disable their access to all the systems they have oversight of, like emails and file shares. Often though, there can be other services that are in use, that can be overlooked.

HubSpot is a great example, with a lot of companies using it to support their sales and marketing. Even if a user no longer has access to their emails after they've left, if their account is still active in HubSpot, and they know their password, they'll still be able to login and use the system. At worst, this could lead to malicious actions from ex-employees, stealing lists of customers, or even sending bogus email campaigns using their old account. Just as likely, is the chance for mistakes. A saved login in a browser can easily lead to a post from the wrong social media account.

This is a difficult one to combat, because teams within organisations can sign up to any number of services to help them do their jobs, without thinking about the potential consequences above. Really, it's up to an organisation to keep track of the third party services staff are using, so that a complete offboarding procedure can be defined that covers every place there might be company data. Single sign on (or SSO) makes this job easier, allowing an employer (or their IT company) to revoke logins across any third party services that support sign in this way.

5. Repurpose company equipment

Far too often we come across companies that either have stacks of old company laptops sitting on shelves, or companies that pay Waste Electrical Recycling firms to come and collect laptops previously assigned to old employees. It doesn't have to be like this. By far the most economical, and environmentally friendly option is to repurpose equipment for staff. As long as a laptop or phone is in good condition, is adequately specced, and fully functional there's no reason not to. With the right device management policies in place, wiping a device and making it as good as new for a new employee is a simple task.

So our tip here is to consider your waste, and whether you might be able to reduce it by repurposing hardware when staff leave.

How to offboard users properly

These are just five basic tips that we think apply to every organisation. In reality, your staff offboarding and onboarding processes need to be tailored to your organisation, and strategic thought about how IT fits in, and how IT can help needs to be applied.

As part of our Managed IT Service we offer that strategic input, and we ensure that when staff come and go, they do so in a way that's smooth, efficient, and secure. If you'd like to find out more about how we can improve the processes at your organisation, why not book an IT assessment? It's a free report that demonstrates exactly how Impelling can improve the IT at your organisation.

Avatar for Impelling staff member Ed Hardie

Ed Hardie, Director

Ed's background is in software engineering, and while he still chips in with the odd bit of code for some automation here and there, these days his focus is across the business as a whole. He heads up the marketing team, oversees day to day operations, and advises our customers on their IT strategy. Read more posts by Ed Hardie

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