Leaving a job can be a stressful and uncertain time for employees and so it’s vital that firms ensure their off-boarding process is robust. It may seem counterintuitive to hone a procedure that is related to individuals leaving your company, but employers have a responsibility to their employees when their circumstances are about to change.
Whether a departure is related to retirement, redundancy, a family/life event, or simply leaving for a new venture. There are both moral and reputational reasons to ensure that any employee leaving a business feels truly supported, particularly in relation to employee benefits.
Communication is vital in terms of notifying individuals when their access to employee benefits will end, and the most prepared firms will have a framework for providing advice for employees about maintaining their cover personally or signposting them to expert support services. Having the right off-boarding policies shows employees that the company they work for truly takes care of them, and doesn’t purely focus on the well-being of those being recruited or retained.
Developing communication and strategies
With two in five employees considering leaving their company, few firms will be able to avoid workers leaving. Developing clear communication plans for various types of exit scenario is an important first step, as the timeframes of an individual leaving a business could differ depending on the reasons. Retirement, for instance, could be planned in collaboration with an employee months in advance, however, a departure due to family circumstances could be more sudden.
Having systems and processes in place that ensure effective communication to individual leavers, regardless of their situation or motivation for leaving, means that firms can inform individuals about when specific covers end. This is particularly important for some employees in relation to private medical insurance, as individuals often only have a short window within which to take on the cover personally, especially if there is a desire to protect existing cover levels. For those where someone on the policy has a pre-existing medical condition, an ongoing or a pending treatment, knowing when they need to assume responsibility for this cover is imperative.
Maintaining cover is even more pertinent now, with the NHS waiting list hitting a record 7.2 million people in February 2022, and more than nine in 10 appointments requiring waits of up to 46 weeks.
Many who leave to work at another employer, may be able to join a new scheme. However, for employees who want to keep their existing plan, continuing an insurance policy is not necessarily something that is universal to all brokers, so it’s important for firms to be clear about how far they can support their employees.
And even if an individual is unsure about whether they want to maintain private medical cover on a personal basis, firms should still consider helping their employees to understand what happens to their private medical insurance when they leave.
Trying to purchase personal medical cover can be a challenging experience, and so employers should work to offer their employees support through their own broker or via external recommended third-parties.
Holistic approach required
The ways in which firms can help employees that are moving on does not only revolve around health, though.
Retirement is a major life shift, and firms should consider developing policies and frameworks that assist their employees in other areas, such as personal finance and life skills, as they approach this landmark. Initiatives such as ‘wind down’ policies, which enable those approaching retirement to slowly drop their hours in the lead up to them leaving the business, can be quick and easy to implement.
But firms should also ensure that they can support employees through the sometimes more challenging aspects of retirement, such as financial planning, and post-employment education and skills.
Pre-retirement planning workshops can provide individuals with the information they need to help tackle the financial and non-financial aspects of retiring. These sessions should help employees focus on their lifestyle objectives in retirement, and then assist them in developing plans to help them achieve these aims.
Providing information about where individuals can learn new skills or study for different qualifications can also be a useful pastoral service to people entering retirement.
Stress-test your offering
Fundamental shifts in the post-pandemic world of work mean that it has arguably never been more important to be seen as a responsible and caring employer, even to those individuals who are moving on.
This means that firms should audit their off-boarding process to consider how well it supports leavers, with a particular focus on what information is being communicated and whether this is being done in a timely manner.
It is also advisable for firms to make sure they fully understand the scope of services their current employee benefits brokerage offers, and whether these can be augmented by that provider, or whether a different provider needs to be engaged to enhance your exit provision.
This is vital to ensure that individuals are able to take on their private medical insurance in a personal capacity, for instance, or to maintain the life insurance they receive as an employee once they have left.
It’s important for firms to understand the depth of their current provision, but it’s even more crucial to know what the gaps are and how these can be filled.
Getting the process right for leavers and retirees could pay dividends for a firm’s reputation, and even bolster recruitment and retention if employees know that their employer cares about their entire employment journey.