5 Tips for Secure and Efficient Employee Offboarding

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Having systems in place before an employee leaves is the key to efficient employee offboarding that won't compromise security.

Many companies spend a lot of time perfecting their employee onboarding process. However, it’s critical to spend the same amount of time (if not more) optimizing their offboarding policies.

Offboarding can be surprisingly complex. IT needs to secure a departing employee’s equipment, revoke access to applications, and recover an endless list of company-owned materials.How do you complete a long list of offboarding tasks efficiently and securely? Here are a few tips to consider, and ways a platform like BetterCloud can help.

1. Create a Checklist

As soon as an employee officially announces their exit, supervisors should introduce a checklist of actions leading up to their exit date. It should include everything expected of the employee up until that day. That checklist might include returning company equipment, training temporary colleagues about role-specific tasks or knowledge, closing out retirement and benefits packages — or rolling them over — and much more.

After each action is completed, it should be clearly noted on the checklist. It helps ensure the important actions are actually getting done and makes the entire offboarding process streamlined for all involved parties, including the employee. It also helps to have a paper trail of everything that’s being done.

Make It Collaborative

It’s important that everyone working with said employee has access to the checklist, including HR, management, and supervisors. It should be a collaborative effort, hosted through a cloud application, or at least a team-based tool, such as BetterCloud.

Allowing everyone access encourages stronger communication and keeps all involved parties in the loop, especially for offboarding processes that take up to two full weeks or longer.


2. Design an Intelligent Exit Survey

Exit interviews are the preferred method for acquiring last-minute details about the departure, but remote processes are prioritized these days, so exit surveys take their place. The idea is to gather information from the leaving employee about their general experience. Did they have difficulties during their employment and is that why they’re leaving? What things did or didn’t happen to them? Is there anything you can do to recapture their loyalty and retain them?

The surveys should be easy to fill out, with thought-provoking questions that don’t necessarily take hours to complete. No one wants to do more work for a company when they’re leaving, so making things too complicated could mean they won’t participate.

Report and Assess Survey Data

The information gathered during the exit survey should not be sent to a remote server and left to rot. It’s valuable and it can vastly change future employee experiences. It’s important to take those insights and get them in front of the right people. If an employee was unhappy and explains why, it’s possible other employees might feel the same.

The data should always be analyzed and repackaged for high-level executives. It should also be reviewed and potentially acted upon by HR and other departments. If and when changes can be made to improve the experience of existing employees, it must happen.

3. Restrict as Soon as Possible

About 34% of data breaches in 2018 involved internal actors, or people working with the company in question. In other words, rogue employees are more common than you might expect, and many times an attack happens after they leave, or are planning to. It’s imperative to restrict access to systems as soon as possible.

The IT department should restrict software and email accounts, and hardware should be returned and potentially wiped through a factory reset. Moreover, additional security measures should be taken, including restricting physical access to sensitive areas of the property, equipment like server rooms, and so on.

Use SaaS Tools to Streamline Access

One of the best things about cloud software applications and SaaS tools is that users can be added and removed near-instantly. This helps ensure that when new employees come aboard, they have access to all of the necessary applications through a single platform or client. However, when they leave, it’s just as easy to remove access by limiting privileges through the platform.

The company can tap into automation to vastly speeding up and optimize various processes, like onboarding, offboarding, and other workflows. These tools will seamlessly integrate with apps you already use, too.

4. Auto-Suspension and Lockout

As part of the restrictions process, departing users can be automatically suspended or removed from accessible systems. That includes clearing associated sessions when using Office 365, Okta, Slack, Zendesk and many others.

This should be automated through something like BetterCloud because you never know what a slighted or disgruntled employee will do — retaliation is certainly a possibility. Even an amicable separation may result in digital damage or negligence, especially if others have access to the same accounts and logins. Locking people out prevents them from stealing data, corrupting, deleting or causing any form of harm.

Cleaning Up Directories

With team-based services, such as internal email and collaborative applications, even removed users will still show up at times. This allows the possibility of them sneaking in after an autocomplete mishap. It just makes sense to prevent it from happening from a security and digital hygiene standpoint.

This process can also be automated to remove or hide users from various applications and services when they are suspended or flagged. You can also revoke permissions from collaborative documents or files and apps like Salesforce while using this same method.

5. Peripheral Cleanup

Similar to directories, accounts, and other personal data, a lot of peripheral cleanup needs to be done — and it can all be automated. It involves wiping two-step authorization and backup codes, app-specific passwords, administrative privileges, security access through tools like LastPass, turning off email forwarding, disabling IMAP and POP, and revoking third-party app access. Since most digital information is tied to a user’s business account or email, it can be wiped quickly and cleanly using offboarding workflows and tools.

Building Workflows

Developing workflows early and modifying them to include new accounts, data and internal systems allows optimizing how automation plays out during the offboarding process. Most of the work has already been completed by the time IT and security teams review a former user’s accounts and access. This means creating a process to check what’s happening during automation actions and whether to modify or update it to keep everything accurate and reliable.

6. Honor Strong Ethics and Respect

Disgruntled employees don’t just leave with a chip on their shoulder; they usually have information that may or may not seriously affect the company. When they share this information, they’re often referred to as whistleblowers. And while that’s seen as a negative in the corporate world, there are many protections for employees that break their silence. It’s important, then, for companies to handle the entire process correctly, with strong ethics, and deep respect for their previous employees.

Too many corporate entities see employees as expendable assets, which is just not the case. Employees are the lifeblood of any business, and are often on the frontlines interacting with customers. It’s important to treat them right, even when they’re leaving. What’s more, treating them respectfully can mitigate many offboarding issues that arise, particularly when it comes to unhappy personnel.

Consider Rewarding Valuable Employees

It may be a good idea to consider giving valuable employees a going-away present or gift, even something small. They may be leaving, but they’ve invested their time and energy into the company, sometimes for many years. Honoring them with a small gift shows your appreciation for what they’ve done, and sends them off on a happy note.

7. Finalize Documentation

All paperwork for the employee’s exit should be finalized before their last day. That includes documentation relating to benefits, payroll, severance, open contracts, NDAs, and much more. Trying to get this squared away after an employee has left is going to be near impossible, so it’s best to get it done now.

Create an Offboarding Package

Rather than waiting until employees are ready to leave and announce their intentions, you should have an offboarding documentation package in place. At the very least, a template should be created so that it’s quick and easy to get a completed package out to your exiting employees. It speeds up the process but also ensures you can get the documentation completed before they leave for good.

8. End Licensing

There’s no reason to continue paying for applications or services no longer needed after an employee takes their leave. Some tools tack on extra costs for each user who has access, regardless of whether or not they’re active.

Automating this process for SaaS applications above all will save money, improve security and maintain a clean, minimal roster of user accounts. Licenses can be removed or nullified for things like Office 365, Google and other services, and there’s almost no reason it needs to be handled manually.

Make It a Positive Experience

A theme you might have picked up on throughout this guide is that the offboarding process should be positive. Even though the employee is leaving, it doesn’t make sense to ruin their sentiment about a company. The exit process should be handled ethically and respectfully, and in a way that protects both parties — not just the company. Plus, you want your employees, even the ones leaving, to talk positively about their experiences. Over time, this has a huge impact on how your brand is perceived.

It is, however, critical that security is handled appropriately, which means restricting access to any and all systems, recovering company equipment and hardware, and ensuring the employee understands their role. Collecting feedback after someone leaves is also necessary to further improve the process for the better.


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Editor-in-Chief for ReHack.com
Editor-in-Chief for ReHack.com

Devin Partida is the Editor-in-Chief for ReHack.com, and has had her freelance work featured in the official CES magazine, as well as various other tech publications. When she isn't writing about the latest tech, gadgets or cybersecurity trends, you can find her biking around the Golden Gate Bridge. To view Devin's full professional portfolio, please visit this page.