How Companies Treat Exiting Employees Reflects Culture

What was your most memorable on-boarding experience? Maybe you received a personal welcome note from your new manager? Did you receive a package full of company swag in the mail? Was there an immediate in-depth training program? Were you welcomed with encouragement from all levels of the organization? Maybe you received all the tools/software to do your job successfully? Or maybe you were assigned a mentor?

You were probably convinced that you made the right decision and you were on the way to a long, successful, and fulfilling career with your new organization.

However, take a moment to recognize how the company treats employees on the way out. This treatment is much more important and reveals much more about the leadership and culture. Here are some red flags:

When an employee resigns, are they asked to leave the property immediately? This can be a sign of a culture of mistrust. Management believes that the employee will steal all the confidential company secrets during their last two weeks of employment. Or they think the employee will speak negatively about leadership or blow off all of their work and projects. The employee isn’t allowed to say good-bye to colleagues or transition their workload. This decision may leave the employee feeling like their work was never valued or acknowledged.

Are employees ignored or given the cold shoulder during their notice period? Even though the individual is leaving, they should still be treated with dignity and respect and allowed to contribute as long as they are there. If the company culture is one that advertises respect or inclusion, be careful of this behavior because they are not living their values.

Is the news kept confidential? Oftentimes, companies don’t communicate an exit until days after the person has already left. This behavior is bizarre. The former employee had a full workload and presumably interacted with many other people within the organization. In the meantime, emails and phone calls are piling up and co-workers are left wondering why the person isn’t responding. This can be a sign of lack of transparency within a company.

Is the direct manager missing from the termination meeting? This is by far the worst red flag! Whether a termination is performance-based or a layoff, the manager should always be present to give the employee the news and own his/her decision. This is not merely an HR responsibility. Sure – HR should be present to support the employee and go over termination paperwork, but the manager is ultimately accountable for the decision. Not being there is cowardly and incredibly disrespectful to the exiting employee.

If you notice the above actions by management, you may have warning signs that the company cares more about their recruiting practices and inflated sales pitch than living by their values when it really matters. Employees should be treated the same exiting an organization as they were coming into the organization!