By Allen F. Weitzel
Do you have an employee departure program?
Employees leave jobs for many reasons and in many ways. To that end, I suggest that entertainment venues apply as much energy into establishing a professional exit system, as they do in creating new employee hiring systems. Look to the military as an example of good initial training and poor exit planning. Ask any veteran suffering from PTSD, with no clue what to do.
What To Know
Key ingredients for a successful departure program include:
- Understanding that employees are watching to see what management does and how they do it when an employee leaves. If you do not handle departing employees properly, other workers may change how and when they leave, and company morale could suffer.
- Consider the time when you might leave. How would you want that transition handled? You should create a program that will be comfortable for all employees leaving the company.
Examples In Common
When I decided to leave a prominent California park, the company president wished me well, thanked me for my hard work and asked if I had any departing wishes. I shared ideas, which he approved. At the inevitable retirement party, our department’s new boss, vetoed the president’s approved wishes and did not even speak at the party. He wanted to show he was in charge. My last day, I expected him to with meet me and accept my company belongings. No one showed, so I turned my keys into Operations and walked out, unescorted. Many employees noticed.
At that same park, we had a Czechoslovakia-born maintenance worker. He had worked for many amusement facilities, designing and building ride interiors. He had worked many years without respirator protection, no doubt suffering some lung damage. When he joined our facility, respirator testing was required. Early on, he passed such tests, but we later discovered that his supervisor did not assure he was following daily respirator procedures. One year, when he took the respirator test he failed it. He was unceremoniously terminated with no plans to try to facilitate a different job for him.
What do these examples have in common? First, management made their decisions based on personal impulses with little regard to the departing employee or company reputation. Secondly, other employees were watching how these departing employees were treated and many decided how and when they would leave the company. Some said they would leave with little or no notice and would not cooperate in transferring work to fellow employees. Old timers call it “spitting in the boss’s coffee.”
Planning Pays Off
Most companies ignore the problem until it happens and then apply a knee jerk solution to how each departure will be addressed; doing whatever seems easiest for the boss. An employee departure plan should mirror your crisis management plan, having a written procedure for every exit scenario. When workers leave, do not allow the process to become sloppy or damaging to the company. Departing employees can create emergencies at various levels of the operation, and using social media, they could give the organization a black eye.
Include retirement planning in your departure program. The plan should allow you to work with employees before they become a liability. It takes planning, skill and effort to handle the veteran workers who may be becoming less effective. Be honest with them. Help them get ready to retire, so leaving their job will not be a shock. Some people only know how to work and have no resources or activities planned for retirement.
It is not entirely the employer’s task to insure every employee’s well being after they retire or quit. We had a good 401K program and educated employees about managing it themselves. During the 2008 crash, some plans suffered nasty hits. When the dust settled, some employees lost large chunks of their retirement packages and blamed their companies, assuming that the company was managing their plans for them.
Departure Plan Elements
Employee going-away parties do not fix the fact that management has no exit plan. The exit plan should address retirement age employees, employees leaving for personal reasons and workers who no longer adequately do their job. Plans should contain education for the worker in advance of their leaving, short term and long term steps for both parties to follow, emergency procedures for poor employee performance, how the employee is to be treated in each scenario, and who does what. The plan should address the CEO to the restroom attendant.
Team up your safety and employee relations departments to work together to create the program, which should also include employee feedback. Once the plan is approved, educate employees on the plan. Everyone will breathe easier knowing that the end of employment will not be a messy affair.