Strategic HR and the PEOple Cycle:  Part III of III

Whitney Bower, Lauren Kersten, and Liz Warren

Welcome to the final part of our series Strategic HR and the PEOple Cycle.   Parts I and II focused on recruiting and onboarding, managing, coaching, and disciplining.  Here, in our final part of this series, we will focus on employee separation and post-separation.


Separation includes both voluntary resignations and involuntary terminations.  We recommend conducting exit interviews for employees who are resigning.  This will help identify turnover trends and areas for improvement in company HR processes.  We ask questions such as, “How was your relationship with your manager?” and “If you owned this company, what is one thing you might change?”  Employees often do not speak up about concerns in the workplace until they have already decided to leave.   Taking interview responses seriously, and making changes in your business based on them, may help reduce preventable turnover in the long run.

Involuntary termination occurs when an employee is failing to meet performance expectations, when some type of misconduct occurs, or when there is a lack of work and a reduction in employees is necessary.  Our clients often have us assist in the separation meeting and it is a best practice to always have a witness.  In addition, we recommend keeping the meeting brief, respectful, and fact-based.  For all types of separations, we strongly recommend documentation – a resignation letter and signed exit interview for voluntary terminations and a separation notice with the reasons for separation and supporting documentation presented to the employee at the time of termination.

Post Separation

When employees leave your organization, it might be the last you hear of them; however, they may take action regarding their employment with you that will require you to respond.  If they file for unemployment benefits and were separated for anything other than a layoff or poor performance, you must provide timely information and documentation in response to the claim.  A separated employee may also file a legal claim against the company.  They may claim harmful wrongdoing by the company such as discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination.  In that event, the burden is on the employer to prove that wrongdoing did not occur.  This is one of the many reasons we emphasize strong documentation.

Human resource is an essential function of any successful business.  Our clients often tell us they never realized how HR could benefit them until they saw the positive bottom-line results.  Offering both transactional and strategic services and introducing the PEOple Cycle to our clients helps them understand their role in the employment process and how this can affect their business.

For more on the separation process check, out our blog post The Five-Step Employee Separation Process.