Best Practices for Managing Employee Departures

manage employee departures

As the job market improves, job options for workers are increasing and so is employee turnover. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of the American worker is 4.6 years. For a Millennial worker born between 1977 and 1992, the wanderlust comes even sooner. Millennials move on an average of every 3.2 years.

Employee turnover is a trend that shows no sign of stopping, making it increasingly important for employers to offer competitive pay and benefits to their staff. For those that do jump ship, it’s critical for employers to ensure they’re taking the correct steps manage employee departures.

Changing jobs is a lengthy process for both employees and employers, which is why it’s crucial for companies to have a formal process in place. Whether employees leave involuntarily or of their own volition, HR managers should carefully follow exit procedures with employee departures. There are five steps you should consider when you and your employees split ways.

5 Steps to Successfully Manage Employee Departures

1. Exit Interviews

As an employer, the benefit to exit interviews for you is hearing a realistic take on what workers think about your company, management and the host of other items that come with a job.

Since departing employees are more likely to be open and honest about any problems they might have with the organization, you can take their feedback and apply it as necessary moving forward.

Use exit interviews to gather important information about whether salaries and benefits are up to par with competitors, as well as to improve culture, processes, management and development programs.

2. Timing of Final Paychecks

Most states have a timeline for when employers need to issue final paychecks to departing employees. Violating these regulations could lead to fines, penalties and interest payments.

Make sure you’re aware of the law in your state. FindLaw is a website for small business owners with a list of final paycheck requirements by state.

3. What’s Included in Final Paychecks

Each state has its own law regarding what has to be included in final paychecks. While you may be aware of requirements for hours worked and potential severance pay, make sure you know your state’s policy about compensating for unused sick or vacation time.

4. Health Insurance Benefits

When an employee covered under a company’s health plan leaves to take another job, he or she is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. If new group health insurance coverage is available, either at the worker’s new job or through his or her spouse’s employer-sponsored plan, the departing worker must request enrollment in the new plan within 30 days.

To ensure that pre-existing conditions are covered under the new plan, the worker’s former employer is required to provide a certificate documenting previous continuous coverage.


Workers who are laid off, quit or retire from companies with 20 or more employees, and who participated in their employers’ group health plans, may qualify to continue coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Employers must provide these departing workers with written notice explaining their rights under COBRA, and the workers have 60 days from the date of notice or the date coverage ended, whichever comes later, to sign up for COBRA coverage. COBRA coverage remains in effect for 18 months, or longer in some cases.

Voluntary Benefits

Some employers offer workers the opportunity to enroll in voluntary health care benefits in addition to major medical insurance plans. These voluntary benefits vary from company to company and may include disability insurance, long-term care insurance, accident and hospitalization insurance, cancer or specified-disease insurance and more. When meeting with exiting workers, employers should discuss their enrollment in these plans. In some cases, coverage terminates when employment ends. In other cases, coverage may be portable and remain in place as long as the worker continues to pay the policy premiums.

5. Retirement Benefits

Although you might offer all of your employees some type of retirement benefits, everyone will need different information upon departure. A Millennial will need different details than say, a Boomer, who is a few years away from retirement.

You should provide departing workers with copies of their retirement plan summary descriptions, as well as individual benefit statements. Explain if, when and how benefits can be collected, either at retirement age or in a lump-sum payment, as well as whether benefits can be rolled over to an IRA or to a new employers’ plan.

According to the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report, 48 percent of workers are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. While retention should remain a top priority for all employers, businesses should always have a plan in place for professionally handling employee departures and prepare to discuss these topics with them.

It is in the best interests of both your company and your workers to avoid loose ends and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Employee Leaving Photo via Shutterstock

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The Unofficial Guide to Being a Grown Man

black man in suit thinkingWe’ve all seen and perhaps grown tired of guides and lists that are rife with tedious clichés and full of humdrum regurgitated meme wisdom.

For that very reason, @GSElevator — in collaboration with John Carney (@Carney) of — presents a fresh, and hopefully thoughtful, look at what it means to be a man today.

- Stop talking about where you went to college.

- Always carry cash. Keep some in your front pocket.

- Rebel from business casual. Burn your khakis and wear a suit or jeans.

- It’s okay to trade the possibility of your 80s and 90s for more guaranteed fun in your 20s and 30s.

- Never stay out after midnight three nights in a row … unless something really good comes up on the third night.

Read the rest of the interesting tips here

Derrick Rose Helps Bring Pizza Chain Back From Brink of Bankruptcy

A new report says Derrick Rose’s investment has brought a local Chicago pizza chain back from the brink of bankruptcy, helped reinvigorate revenue — and sparked unprecedented site expansion.

Giordano’s Pizza is a 39-year-old company, purchased by the firm Victory Park Capital Advisors LLC last November for $52 million, is on track for nearly $100 million in sales this year, according to its CEO.

“The 39-year-old company, which was purchased by Chicago private-equity firm Victory Park Capital Advisors LLC in November for $52 million, is profitable and on track to generate nearly $100 million in sales this year, says CEO Yorgo Koutsogiorgas. He adds that Giordano’s has experienced double-digit percentage revenue growth each of the last two years,” writes Danny Ecker of Crain’s Chicago Business.

“We have seen an immense uptick in our sales for the last year and a half, which coincides to a degree with the announcement of his ownership with Giordano’s,” said CEO Yorgo Koutsogiorgas according to the report.

“With a recent cash infusion from its new owners and a revamped menu with more health-conscious fare, Giordano’s will soon expand beyond its 43 locations (40 of which are in Illinois, three in the Orlando, Fla., area).” Read the rest of the story here.

The Best PR-Reporter Relationships Are Selfless

Make yourself useful and reporters will realize that you care about more than a cheap score.

PR people in many cases are borderline intolerable. The few that are well-received generally position themselves as utilities. They’re able to do research and help reporters get stories written that aren’t necessarily about their clients. If they are, it’s in a nascent, industry-relevant manner–one that positions the client in the industry versus lauding them with attention.

Play the long game.

This is the long game of PR–one that’s about relationship-building over instant results. Sometimes it’s a very simple helping hand. Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and author of Without Their Permission, says running the PR and marketing for the travel site Hipmunk was as much about establishing a brand (and about his usefulness) as it was about getting coverage.

“It was important to just be a resource on travel and introducing [reporters] to people in the industry who’d know the right people…sometimes it was just a case of getting [Hipmunk CEO] Adam on the phone with reporters to talk about clever travel hacks,” Ohanian told me. His strategy worked–Hipmunk CEO Adam Goldstein and Hipmunk have been written-about and featured in hundreds of places, including The New York Times, CNN and The Today Show, as well as being named one of the 50 websites that make the web great.

Being useful rather than “successful” makes reporters realize that you care about more than a cheap score. You’re not a leech–you’re useful. So that email you send to them about your client will have a greatly increased chance of being read. In concert with actually working out what they want and giving it to them, you’ll make long-term contacts who will want to work with you.

Make introductions and reporters will keep you on their radar.

Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out and advisor to companies like NASA and Saudi Aramco, takes it a step further. The company connects reporters with potential sources on everything from technology to healthcare, and he recommends not even thinking about yourself–simply introduce the right people, and things will go perfectly. “In the end, being the guy who makes the introductions is the easiest way in the world to become useful to almost everyone. If you’re the one people call to meet other people, you’re always in the network, and always in the connection. You’re the go-to person when in need, and that’s a great place to be.”

If a reporter you’re speaking with is working on a story and he or she talks to you about it, help them if you can. Even if it takes up 10 minutes of research time, you’re helping them out. It’s not a trick, or a sly way to get in their good graces–you simply prove yourself as someone with a particular skill. Your general day-to-day should include reading constantly and learning the entire landscape of what you’re doing. If there’s something in there that’s useful to someone, reach out.

Don’t wait until you can get something out of it. You’ll develop a reputation as a good person who’s good at your job and that’s priceless.

When reporters reach out on Twitter, answer them.

It’s also possible to be useful just by following reporters on Twitter. Your average reporter will probably, at some point, ask a question his or her followers a question. Answer it. This is the slow-to-burn power of a well-kept friendship. The key is to be useful but not invasive–be respectful of them personally and professionally.

This all may feel a tad out of the ordinary. Being in PR conditions you to seek results, to “brand” a client or yourself. Be smarter than that: Work hard to make connections with others and bridge the gaps between those people. It could be a venture capitalist with a potential investment, a client with a good coffee bar, or a reporter with a great story that isn’t necessarily yours.

Don’t forget to help other PR reps.

Some of my greatest connections have been either bolstered or created by helping out. My friend Phillip Broughton invented a 40x concentrated coffee that diabetics can drink (pure coffee, with no additives, actually tastes sweet, even if it isn’t). I’ve happily sent at least 15 reporters coffee (out of my own pocket) not because I thought, “Hey, this is their kind of thing.” As a hobby of Phil’s (his day job is being a health physicist at University of California at Berkeley, handling radiation-producing machines), the Black Blood of the Earth is not something he needs PR for.

For reporters, though, it’s great. In a sea of vapid, over-valued startup garbage, a mega-coffee brewed by a radiation expert is compelling both as a story and as a product. Does it mean they’ll love me forever? Hardly. But it proves I give a damn.


Be Humble When You’re Changing the World

How do you balance the humility of great leaders against the goals of great entrepreneurs?

This is a column about the universe, the cofounder of AOL, the World War II movie, Band of Brothers. It’s also a column about a key component of entrepreneurial leadership, humility. Bear with me, it will all make sense soon enough.

In the waning days of our honeymoon, my wife and I recently trekked to the top of Mauna Kea, a 13,803-foot mountain on the Big Island of Hawaii. Besides being one of the few places in Hawaii where a winter coat and hat come in handy, it also happens to be one of the best places to gaze up at stars.

I was also drawn to Mauna Kea after reading that scientists estimate there are about 70 sextillion stars in the known universe. (Another study suggests that number is lower, at 300 sextillion.)

A sextillion is a 1 with 21 zeroes, so there’s no good way to wrap our arms around those numbers other than, by way of comparison, to point out there are about 7 billion living humans. Even at the lower estimate of 70 sextillion, that’s 1 trillion stars for each person.

Lessons in Humility

It’s a humbling thought, which led me to think of two people: AOL co-founder and venture capitalist Steve Case, and the late Maj. Dick Winters, who led the World War II airborne infantry company made famous in the book and film, Band of Brothers.

In a recent interview, Case surprised me when he said the wrong way to pitch a business idea was to lack humility. Likewise, Winters’ book preaches the importance of humility in leadership: “If you don’t worry about who gets the credit, you get a lot more done,” wrote the citizen soldier who led a fierce fight in Normandy. “Leaders should assume blame when the operation fails; when it succeeds, credit the men and women in your team. They do the lion’s share of the work.”

What About Big Ideas?

Humility is a logical feeling when confronted by the scope of the universe. But how on Earth can one accomplish big goals while maintaining, as the dictionary puts it, “a modest or low view of one’s importance”?

The answer lies in the balance. Having mulled it all over while admiring one of the most beautiful sights on the planet, here’s what I came up with.

Humility Means Respecting Your Team

If you don’t respect the members of your team, you’d probably both be better off if they weren’t part of it. Of course that means respecting their contributions and their individuality, but it also means respecting them by leading effectively. You need not only a worthwhile goal, but also a plan to get there–otherwise, your people deserve better.

Humility Means Respecting Your Customers

On a related note, humility requires respecting–and listening to–the people whose problems you seek to solve. As Jon Burgstone and I wrote in Breakthrough Entrepreneurship, a worthwhile entrepreneurial venture must “solve an important customer problem and in some small way, improve the world.” How you can identify those important customer problems without respecting and listening to your customers?

Humility Means Being Daring

Start the world’s biggest Internet company? That’s a worthwhile goal. Defeat the Nazis and liberate Europe? Obviously a mighty and worthwhile challenge. It’s not surprising that one component of successful entrepreneurship has something in common with leadership in all fields: Pick a problem worth solving and an objective worth your efforts.

One could probably write a doctoral dissertation in philosophy on this paradox. But if you want to practice true humility, you have to reach for the stars. Fortunately, you’ve got at least 70 sextillion to choose from.

Like this post? Here’s the best way to keep up with Bill Murphy Jr.


Grammy Nominated Artist Carolyn Malachi On the Power of Social and Her Blerd Appeal

Independent artist Carolyn Malachi utilizes the power of social media to spread her artistry (Image: Carolyn Malachi/Facebook)

Everyone wants the formula for innovation. Whether you believe it’s learned or innate,’s Innovator of the Week feature gives you a glimpse into the lives of founders/co-founders, business execs, entrepreneurs and artists revolutionizing their respective industries through technology and social media.

They say girls love Beyonce (well, according to rapper Aubrey “Drake” Graham), but it’s safe to say blerds love Carolyn Malachi.

You may know Malachi, great-granddaughter of jazz pianist John Malachi, for her spoken-word-meets hip-hop-R&B, jazz fusion, but the Washington, DC-bred artist is lending her voice to philanthropic efforts as well as technology and innovation. Last January, Malachi launched the #IAM Campaign in partnership with non-profit organization The School Fund, online textbook rental company Chegg, and Carmelita Group, merging music, business and tech. With each view of Malachi’s “Free Your Mind” video, an hour of class time was funded for students in Kenya and Tanzania, generating over 10,000 class hours to date.

“It worked so well,” says the independent, Grammy nominated artist. “We got such a huge response from this concept the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Civic Leadership Center got on board and they allowed us to debut the video at their annual event in December; right before we went to launch, Bono’s organization got involved.” The campaign has expanded with Malachi donating an hour of class time with every download of her 2013 release, Gold. Her passion to educate the next generation has led to partnerships with brands like FIAT and Sirius XM Radio for the safe-driving campaign, as well as the Recording Academy.

Malachi’s presence on social media, which includes over 20,000 Twitter followers and an engaged Facebook community, landed the talented crooner a partnership deal with Argo Tea that gave customers access to stream her entire album from their homepage, as well as a free song download to patrons via their social media page. This is the first partnership the tea café franchise has entered into with a young, black artist, and such was the case with social magazine platform Flipboard when Malachi became the first African American to be featured in its Creator Spotlight. Tapping into the relationship between celebrities and brands, social commerce platform Shopcade allowed users to style Malachi for her music video, “All Right,” with its “Stylist for a Day” campaign. The lucky winner also snagged the opportunity to dress her for a summer appearance on “The Daily Buzz” and a live performance.

During downtime on her recent tour, caught up with the Queen of Blerd Music to chat about her blerd appeal, what it means to be a black/brown nerd today and her noteworthy social media win. You’ve been embraced by the blerd movement. Why do you think this cool group of black and brown nerds has taken a liking to you and your music?

Malachi: It feels good to be embraced by the blerd movement. I think the thing that makes it really rewarding for me, and quite authentic, is that there seems to be a real connection to the music…it’s because the music I make helps people realize that we have the tools that we need to create things and to build what we want to see in our lives.

SBA Pulls More Levers on Its Smallest Loans

The agency moves to close a credit gap by eliminating fees on loans under 150k.

The Small Business Administration has pulled a page from an old playbook and is eliminating fees for its smallest loans.

Acting administrator Jeanne Hulit announced Wednesday on her blog that for its flagship 7(a) and 504 loans of $150,000 or less, the fee will be zero. The fee elimination will be good for all such loans originated as of October 1, the start of the agency’s fiscal year.

Lending Lift

While the dollar amounts are tiny– about $2,500 on the maximum amount–it could mean a lot to the smallest businesses still struggling with a weak recovery and a wan lending environment by sparking more demand.

This spring, the SBA had indicated it would eliminate fees on its key loans in its budget plan for fiscal year 2014, which began Oct. 1. The SBA pulled similar levers to jumpstart lending at the height of the financial crisis in 2009, when it increased guarantees on its loans.

“When you look at the numbers, the most significant credit gap we see is for smaller-dollar loans,” Hulit wrote. Hulit added that the lower-dollar loans would support new startups, entrpreneurs in underserved communities, veterans, women, and minority business owners.

The SBA is eliminating revenue-making fees despite sequestration cuts last winter that slashed 12 percent from the SBA’s 2014 budget. Its budget for the current year is $810 million.

Financial experts have sometimes criticized the SBA for neglecting smaller-dollar value loans. In fact, the SBA has seen the dollar volume of its smaller loans decrease for the past few years.

For fiscal year 2013, the SBA, in its weekly lending report for September 30, 2013, reported about 25,000 7(a) loans of $150,000 or less, with a dollar amount of $1.4 billion, a 12 percent decrease by dollar volume and a 27 percent decline in number from 2010.

Similarly, it reported 823 504 loans valued at $90 million for fiscal year 2013 , a decrease of 24 percent by number and of 22 percent in dollar volume from 2010.

Fees are usually assessed according to the maturity of the loan, and according to the size of the guaranteed portion of the loan. The fee is usually 0.25 percent on the guaranteed portion of any loan with a maturity of one year or less, the SBA says. The fee rises to 2 percent for the guaranteed portion on loans up to $150,000. Lenders usually pay the fee, and pass that amount on to the borrower plus their own origination fees. The highest guarantee for loans of $150,000 is 85%.

The SBA increased the size and guarantee maximum of its 7(a) and 504 loans at the height of the financial crisis in 2009, when its lending fell by about half as banks retrenched.

The SBA’s move, plus its aggressive campaign to get more community banks lending again, led to a rebound and record 7(a) and 504 lending levels starting in 2011 and continuing until the present.


New MacBook Pros Feature Price Cuts But Improved Features

new macbook pro

The new MacBook Pro with Retina display may not be the computer for every small business. But those needing high end features in the areas Apple excels, like graphics, should be ecstatic.

The latest generation of the laptops announced recently offered some pleasant surprises. Most importantly, Apple has dropped the price of the new laptops from $2,199 to $1,999 for the 15-inch laptop and from $1,499 to $1,299 for the 13-inch computer.

New MacBook Pro: System Improvements

But in introducing the new MacBook Pro with Retina display Apple also announced some other improvements:

  • Better processors (an Intel Core i7 for the 15-inch and a Core i5 for the 13 inch laptop).
  • Improved Intel Iris graphics in both laptops.
  • Increased battery life up to nine hours in the 13-inch and eight hours in the 15-inch.

Here’s another look at the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display from The Verge:

Retina Display

Apple introduced Retina display models of both the MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch laptops last year.

For those in need of a refresher, basically, Apple defines Retina display as one in which the number of pixels is so great the human eye can no longer distinguish them individually. So the number of pixels varies with the size of the display.

For the new MacBook Pro, Apple says that amounts to more than four million pixels for the 13-inch laptop and more than five million for the 15-inch producing images crisper than the printed page.

Image: Apple

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Fueled by Mobile, Social Commerce is Going Into High Gear

Mobile devices have become the remote controls of our lives and the focal point of social commerce.

Social commerce is poised to race past E-commerce, and at the wheel is the high-octane world of mobile. If you’re not a leader or you’re not positioning yourself as one, you will be left behind.

Can We Talk?

When I started in the retail business with a flower shop in Manhattan decades ago, most of my customers dropped in for a quick cup of coffee and to chat about what was going on in their lives, with their loved ones, and within the community.

Those conversations are now happening on social mediums. More than 70 percent of Internet users in the U.S. engage on social platforms and tools, according to a recent Pew study. In addition, more than 40 percent of this engagement is happening on mobile devices.

But in midst of this change from serving the 35 customers then who were my loyal shoppers at my first store to more than 35 million customers today across our floral and food brands, something has remained constant–it’s still all about relationships.

The difference is that this disruptive evolution is allowing us to keep building these relationships at a scale never seen before.

Mobile drives social.

Mobile devices have become the remote controls of our lives and the focal point of social commerce. It creates opportunities for businesses by encouraging customers to expand every conversation to their personal networks.

According to a June 2013 research report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF), U.S. mobile commerce grew 24 percent between the second quarters of 2012 and 2013. And in the second quarter of 2013, “m-commerce” dollars totaled $4.7 billion. NRF’s report says that during the 2013 second quarter, 57 percent of smartphone users visited a retailer’s website or used their app while in the retailer’s brick-and-mortar location. And 17 percent used their smartphones to take a photo of a product in-store and share it with their social networks.

Here are the social-commerce trends to watch.

Molding today’s retail environment are trends that center around user-curated, shopping-focused destinations such as The Find, Lyst, Svpply, and Wanelo. With so many available retail choices, consumers are looking for ways to vet through product offerings and narrow down their options based on valued customer opinions and experience. On these sites, users create and share lists of products and services for others to shop from. Imagine millions of people sharing a list of your products, and you can see the potential.

We’re also watching closely the trend of participatory commerce, involving companies such as Threadless, Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Using these sites, consumers become part of the production process through voting, funding, and collaboratively designing products. Clearly the DIY movement had a hand building up awareness and acceptance of from-scratch products, but it’s also clear that people want to be connected to the products they buy and to the people they buy them from. By supporting entrepreneurs and helping them out, they’re creating personal relationships that matter to them. And it’s becoming abundantly obvious that people want relationships to be part of their purchases; there’s a huge portion of the consumer base that wants to avoid cookie-cutter products and support small-scale products and projects and the people who think them up.


The Most Dangerous Coping Mechanism in Business

In the face of bad news, plenty of managers respond with a very natural human emotion: denial.

You might deny it, but it’s true. In response to bad news, even great managers succumb to a perfectly normal human emotion: denial.

When sales plummet, you lose a huge deal, or some other piece of bad news reaches your desk, it’s not uncommon to experience the first stage of grief as a coping mechanism. But great managers recognize when this happens and learn ways to snap out of it, Ron Ashkenas, business book author and managing partner of Schaffer Consulting, writes in the Harvard Business Review.

Read on for Ashkenas’s tips on how to recognize this response in yourself and keep it at bay.

Encourage your team not to sugar coat bad news.

Ashkenas says that denial is tricky–it’s usually easier to spot in other people than in yourself. This means you need to rely more on your team. “Even the most open and honest of managers sometimes engage in ‘wishful hearing’ and interpret things the way they want them to be, instead of how they really are,” he writes. “That’s why really good managers value subordinates and colleagues who are not afraid to bring them bad news, tell them the truth, and help them peel away their own unconscious avoidance mechanisms.”

Pay attention to the details.

You may not recognize a downward trend in reports, news, or the market. Sometimes it takes keen observation of the minutiae to realize your company is headed towards trouble. “Facts and data are usually open to interpretation, and people have different underlying criteria for how they analyze them,” he writes. “We all emphasize some things and discount others, based on past experiences, personality, and tolerance for discomfort.”

Talk it out.

Since there are never flashing red lights in business, you need to create an open atmosphere and discussion so that your team talks about developments both good and bad. “While denial can still occur, it is less likely when teams are able to look at the situation from multiple angles, challenge underlying assumptions, and eventually get a better picture of what’s really going on,” he writes.