Ending the employment relationship

In some cases, it will not be possible for an employee to remain on the job, or return to work.  

Respect and dignity that is demonstrated towards the employee will go a long way to support the individual who is facing a very difficult time in their life, including the loss of their job.

If this happens, to the extent possible, the employee should be provided with an opportunity to return to the workplace to:

  • Gather any personal belongings
  • Wrap up and/or debrief on any work or projects that are in progress and/or will be left behind 
  • Contact external colleagues to let them know they are leaving
  • Visit with and say goodbye to colleagues 
  • Hand in any items such as pass keys; pass-codes; parking or other passes; physical keys
  • Return any property of the employer that may have been with the employee off-site and/or at their home office
  • Review any administrative items that will be relevant to their departure from the workplace
  • Participate in any other options that may be available

In addition to this, there may also be a range of administrative activities that the employer will need to attend to with the employee.  For example:

  • Participate in an exit interview
  • Provide the Record of Employment
  • Provide a letter of reference and/or provide thanks for their contributions
  • Explain any processes related to group benefits and/or pension plan continuance
  • Discuss and/or provide any pay that is owed upon the end of the employment relationship
  • Review and agree to any accrued and unused vacation time to be paid to the employee 
  • Provide any other information that may be required 

Additionally, under normal circumstances, if a workplace lunch or a break-time gathering would have been organized, the same opportunity should be extended to the employee who is leaving.

As an employer, if you can ask yourself the following questions, you will be providing concrete support to your employee as they leave your workplace.  

  • If this were me, how would I handle it?
  • How would I want to be treated?  
  • What steps can I take to demonstrate sincere support to the individual?
  • What might I say to offer encouragement, thanks and appreciation?
  • Do I have all of the administrative items in order?  
  • When is the best time for the employee to meet?
  • How might I make this transition smoother?

The first step to this last question is for the employee to have an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the job exit process. It will leave a lasting positive impression, not only on the out-going employee, but also on their manager, friends and colleagues, and the broader workforce in general.

Dealing with job interruption and job loss can be extremely difficult. “Sorry to see you go” means so much. Whatever steps can be taken to express gratitude for their contributions, and to demonstrate support and respect for their current situation, will assist the employee in making this a smoother transition overall.  

Over time, if the employee would like to, you can keep in touch and/or occasionally get together. Taking the time to reach out now and then will help to alleviate some of the isolation that the individual might be experiencing following an unexpected exit from the world of work.  

Leaving a workplace is a process, not an event. Knowing that others care means a lot.